Los Angeles, Our Client Age 13, Felony Lewd Act, Probation
Evidence of semen from our client was gathered from a tissue found in the trash can at the young girl’s home. There was no penetration by our client’s fingers of the girl’s vagina. The girl was not physically injured and our client did not threaten her in any way during the incident, although he said he held her in place, which was not good at all.Summary: Los Angeles, our 13 years old male client confesses in writing to felony lewd act with a three-year old girl he was entrusted to babysit; case resolved for home on probation (HOP) with client wearing a GPS anklet.
The case came to the attention of the police because the young girl’s older sister, age nine, described what had happened to her mom. She had apparently walked in on the client masturbating while touching the three-year old. The extremely alarmed mother of the two girls then contacted the police.
Without his mom being allowed to sit in on the police talking to our client, our client wrote a detailed confession to the police almost immediately after being arrested. He did so because police suggested he might be able to go home if he did so (he was actually not released to go home). No Miranda warnings were provided to the client, although police claimed they did give such warning. Our client denied being told he had a right to remain silent and he certainly did not waive such a right, he told us.
This type of trickery by police, especially of a young teenager, is deplorable, we think. While this case took place in 2012, the law has since changed on this type of police manipulation. In October, 2017, Jerry Brown signed SB 395 into law, requiring police to give extra Miranda warnings to a juvenile suspect under Welfare & Institutions Code § 625.6 under the age of fifteen.
When the client confesses in writing, it obviously shows guilt, but it also demonstrates an acceptance of responsibility for his conduct and cooperation with law enforcement. However, it is a common mistake to believe that a confession will erase the charges, especially with younger clients. In our experience, the charges only become stronger and the exposure to the client only increases.
In this case, the letter aggravated the severity of his conduct, as he graphically described what he had done, even describing how he used moderate force to the victim to complete his act.
In mitigation, our client had no prior record of any sort and was a good student, so the charges were deeply confusing to our client’s mom (a single mom), especially because the maximum sentence facing our client (if tried as an adult, which was unlikely) was eight years and registration as a sexual offender under Penal Code § 290, which would follow him the rest of his life.
Inglewood Juvenile Courthouse
The case was filed in the Inglewood Juvenile Court. The District Attorney viewed the case as extremely serious, commenting that the victim was vulnerable and he was in a position of trust, but the judge agreed with our office that a psychological evaluation was appropriate first and foremost. We asked the judge to appoint an expert we recommended. The prosecutor objected to this, reading parts of our client’s letter to the judge and commenting that our client knew full well what he was doing. This show of bravado, however, clearly backfired, as the client’s mom heard the letter being read and was visibly shaken, which the judge saw.
Indeed, sometimes a prosecutor does not appreciate the very powerful role he or she has in our system.
Such an expert examination was then conducted, the results of which recommended leniency in punishment as appropriate.
Our client’s family was extremely relieved when he was released home on probation (HOP) with imposition of any sentence stayed, but required to wear an anklet GPS to track his movement. Our client was also reassigned to a different school while on probation and required to undergo psychological counseling for the indefinite future to improve his impulse control issues.
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