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Tougher sentences for sex crimes – Chelsea’s Law

“Chelsea’s Law” was signed into effect on September 9, 2010. Codified as AB1844, the law becomes one of the toughest in the world for sexual offenders. Most punitive perhaps, is its “one strike and you’re out” element or a provision that allows a life sentence without the possibility of parole for an adult defendant who engages in even a single act of forcible sexual conduct against a child 14 years old or younger.

Other provisions require lifetime parole for violent sexual offenders, GPS monitoring as part of that parole and lifetime prohibitions against entering parks where children could play.

The law went into effect as an “urgency” matter on September 9, 2010, but it does not apply to those already in jail or awaiting trial on similar charges. The US Constitution prohibits the retroactive application  of punishment or the passage of an “ex post facto” law.

What may prove most controversial, especially in light of the court’s recent ruling in Mendez , is the “one strike” provision for children. A child convicted of perpetrating one count of forcible sexual assault on another child could be sent to prison for twenty-five years to life. (Unlike an adult, he could, however, be eligible for parole after 25 years.) People v. Mendez (B217683, Second Dist., 9/1/10, Cal.App.4th) just held that an 84-life sentence on a juvenile who neither committed homicide nor inflicted great bodily injury was cruel and unusual punishment.

“Chelsea’s Law” was named for Chelsea King, the Poway teenager who was murdered by John Albert Gardner, a convicted sex offender last year.

If you or someone you know may be accused of a sexual offense, call Orange County criminal lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a free consultation today.


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