Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child
PC 269(a) Law, Sentence, & Defense
Information on the crime of aggravated sexual assault of a child is found at California penal code section 269(a). The following article is a brief summary of the law, penalties, and common defenses associated with PC 269(a). It is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. If you are charged with a criminal offense, contact a criminal defense lawyer without delay.
PC 269(a): A defendant who commits any of the following crimes upon a child under fourteen years of age, and when the child is seven or more years younger than the defendant, is guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child:
Rape of a Child (PC 261(2) or (6)) [PC 269(a)(1)]
Rape or Sexual Penetration in Concert Against a Child (PC 264.1) (PC 269(a)(2)]
Sodomy Against a Child (PC 286(c)(2) or (c)(3), & PC 286(d)(2), or (d)(3)) [PC 269(a)(3)]
Oral Copulation of a Child (PC 287(c)(2) or (c)(3) & PC 287(d)(2) or (d)(3)) [PC 269(a)(4)]
Sexual Penetration of a Child (PC 289(a)) [PC 269(a)(5)]
PC 269(a) Penalties
Prison Sentence: All crimes listed under PC 269(a) are considered felonies. If found guilty of any PC 269(a) crime the defendant will face a prison sentence of fifteen years to life. This means that the defendant must serve at least fifteen years before he is eligible for parole consideration.
Consecutive Sentencing: If the defendant is found guilty of more than one PC 269(a) crime then the court will impose consecutive prison sentencing against the defendant. A consecutive prison sentence means that the defendant will serve a full and separate prison sentence for each violation.
For example, if the defendant is convicted of two counts of Aggravated Sexual Penetration of a Child (PC 269(a)(5)), then the defendant will serve a minimum thirty years to life prison sentence (fifteen years for each PC 269(a) violation).
Note: Consecutive prison sentencing for PC 269(a) violations is allowed where the defendant is convicted of either two separate occasions of PC 269(a) conduct against the same victim, or where the defendant is convicted of violating PC 269(a) against two or more different victims, regardless of whether or not the violations were simultaneous.
Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is period of supervision instead of jail or prison. A defendant who is convicted of aggravated sexual assault against a child pursuant to PC 269(a)(1-5) is not eligible for a probation sentence.
PC 1170(h) Sentence: Per California law, any person convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child under PC 269(a) is not eligible for a suspended or split prison sentencing. This means that any person convicted of a PC 269(a) crime must serve his or her incarceration in a California state prison, as opposed to a local county jail, and no part of that prison sentence may be suspended (not served unless and until the defendant violates a condition of out-of-custody post-conviction release), or split (served partially in prison and partially out of prison on work release or house arrest).
Work Release / House Arrest: A defendant convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child may not serve any part of his or her sentence alternatively on work release or house arrest. As stated, all incarceration periods related to PC 269(a) crimes must be served in a California state prison.
CIMT: The crime of aggravated sexual assault of a child is considered a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT). A crime involving moral turpitude means that the defendant’s conduct is considered morally reprehensible or otherwise involves deceit. A CIMT carries collateral consequences for non-US citizens and licensed professionals. A non-US citizen may be deported or denied reentry into the United States for a violation of any CIMT, including PC 269(a). Furthermore, a licensed professional, such as a therapist, teacher, doctor, lawyer, dentist, etc., may have his or her professional license revoked or suspended for a violation of any CIMT, including PC 269(a). For more information, see CIMT, Immigration Consequences for Criminal Convictions, and Professional Licensing and Criminal Convictions.
Sex Offender Registration: Upon conviction of any PC 269(a) crime the defendant will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his or her life. PC 269(a) is considered a tier-three level sex crime. This means that any person convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child must register with local authorities as a sex offender for life. For more information, see PC 290 Sex Offender Registration Requirements, and California’s New Three-Tier Sex Offender Registration System (SB 384).
Super Strike: The crime of aggravated sexual assault of a child is considered a super strike under California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law. This means that PC 269(a) crimes are considered serious (PC 1192.7), violent (PC 667.5), and subject to life sentencing upon one violation. Also, the benefits of prop 57 (early release for non-violent offenders) do not apply to any PC 269(a) sentence.
Additional Punishment: In addition to the penalties listed above, if found guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child, the defendant could face any of these additional punishments: ineligibility to join, or removal from, the armed forces (Navy, Marines, Space Force, Army, Merchant Marines, Air Force), prohibition from owning or possessing a firearm or firearm ammunition, restitution, monetary court fines and fees, violation of probation or parole (if the defendant was on parole or probation at the time of his or her PC 269(a) criminal conduct), and more.
PC 269(a) Defenses
Common defenses to an allegation of aggravated sexual assault of a child (minor under 14), include: coerced confession, insanity, illegal search and seizure of evidence, insufficient evidence required to prove the allegation, false allegations, and more.
Note: There is no statute of limitations defense to PC 269(a) crimes. This means that the district attorney will not be time-barred from bringing criminal charges against the defendant no matter how much time has passed since the alleged conduct that lead to the criminal charges. However, just because the district attorney is never time-barred in PC 269(a) cases does not mean that time does not diminish the chances of a successful prosecution against the defendant (memory loss, evidence lost, etc.).
Note: The defense of consent, which is normally a valid defense in most sex crimes, does not apply to a charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child. This is because a minor under the age of fourteen in not legally capable of giving consent. For example, if a thirteen year old middle-school boy agrees to have sexual intercourse with his teacher, who is twenty-two years old at the time of sexual intercourse with the victim, then the law will deem the boy’s agreement as invalid because of his age.
False Allegations: Showing false allegations is perhaps the most common defense used in PC 269(a) cases. Sometimes a false allegation is intentional. Criminal defense and family law attorneys commonly see intentional false allegations of sexual abuse against a child in cases where there is a related and contemporaneous contested child custody or divorce case between the accusing child’s parents. This is especially common where the defendant is a stepparent to the accuser and the defendant shares a biological child with the accuser’s other parent. Demonstrating these intentional false allegations as they relate to family law court cases relies heavily on the motive to fabricate. Of course, a false allegation is not always an intentional false allegation, but the allegation remains false nevertheless. Criminal defense attorneys usually expose a child’s unintentional false allegations of sexual abuse with the help of forensic interviewers (experts). These defense forensic child interviewers show the jury how the child’s initial interview(s) regarding the sexual abuse, usually conducted by well-meaning, but untrained parents or teachers, actually created the child’s false memories sexual abuse.
Warning: Anything a criminal suspect says or does can be used against him in a court of law. A criminal suspect should remain silent and make no statement when facing criminal charges. This means making no statement(s) regarding the criminal allegation(s) to friends, family, therapists, strangers, religious advisors, alleged victim(s), and especially…law enforcement personnel and their agents.
To learn more about the crime of aggravated sexual assault of a child, or PC 269(a), contact our sex crimes criminal defense lawyers today. Our team of experienced and successful sex crimes lawyers can answer all of your questions and assist you with every aspect of your defense. We offer free consultations and we are available to discuss your case with you in our office, or in jail, any day of the week. Call today!
Quick Reference Sheet
Crime: Aggravated Sexual Assault on a Child
Code: PC 269(a) (CalCrim No. 1123)
Wobbler (Yes): PC 269(a) is not a wobbler crime. PC 269(a) may only be charged as a felony.
Incarceration: Felony PC 269(a) prison sentence range: 15 years to life.
Probation Sentence: No. Probation sentencing is not available in PC 269(a) cases.
Work Release: No. Work release, house arrest, and other out-of-custody alternatives to jail are not available in PC 269(a) cases.
PC 1170(h)): No. PC 269(a) is subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any jail or prison sentence may not be:
Split (half in-custody / half out-of-custody)
Suspended (possibly never served)
Served in county jail (not state prison)
Strike: PC 269(a) is a super strike offense pursuant to California's Three Strikes law (one violation equals a life prison sentence). PC 269(a) is considered a serious offense and a violent offense under PC 1192.7 and PC 667.5, respectively.
Credits: Good conduct credits are not available in PC 269(a) cases.
Loss or denial of a professional license (i.e. doctors, lawyers, dentists, nurses, etc.); Deportation or denial of reentry into the US (for non-US citizens); Impeachment of defendant's credibility in subsequent legal proceedings, and more.
Firearms: Felony PC 269(a) convictions bar defendant from owning or possessing a firearm or firearm ammunition.
PC 288(a) Lewd & Lascivious Acts on a Minor
PC 288.5(a) Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Minor
PC 288.7(b) Sexual Penetration of a Child