Arrested? Suffering from a past conviction?

Call us or Click Here to schedule your free, in-person (weekends often available).

If our operators are busy, leave a detailed voice message.

Contact Us Now!

Habitual Sexual Offender Law

Penal Code 667.71

California Penal Code 667.71 PC is the law that governs habitual sex offenders. As used in this statute, a habitual sexual offender refers to any person who is convicted of a certain sex crime, and then is later convicted of the same sex crime or another qualifying sex offense. If an offender is found to be a habitual sex offender, the punishment of 25-years-to-life shall be imposed.


California Penal Code 667.71(a) states:

a habitual sexual offender is a person who has been previously convicted of one or more of the offenses specified in subdivision (c) and who is convicted in the present proceeding of one of those offenses.[1]


PC 667.71 applies to sex crimes such as Rape, per Penal Code 261, Lewd acts with a minor child, per Penal Code 288 PC; and Sodomy, per Penal Code 286 PC.

Being charged does not necessarily mean you are already found guilty of the offense. With the assistance of an experienced attorney, you may raise legal defenses in order to have these charges reduced or even dismissed. Common legal defenses raised for this type of charge include showing that a defendant was arrested without probable cause; confession for the crime was coerced; and/or the defendant was falsely arrested.

A habitual sex offender is classified as a felony under California laws and is punishable by imprisonment in the California state prison for 25 years to life.

When is Penal Code 667.71 applicable?

Commission of specific sex offenses twice or more times shall render the offender a habitual sex offender and shall be meted with more severe penalties. Specific offenses covered by this statute are as follows:

  1. Rape, in violation of Penal Code 261.
  2. Spousal rape, in violation of Penal Code 262.
  3. Rape, spousal rape, or sexual penetration, in concert, in violation of Penal Code 264.1.
  4. Lewd or lascivious act, in violation of Penal Code 288.
  5. Sexual penetration, in violation of Penal Code 289.
  6. Continuous sexual abuse of a child, in violation of Penal Code 288.5.
  7. Sodomy, in violation of Penal Code 286.
  8. Oral copulation, in violation of Penal Code 287.
  9. Kidnapping, in violation of Penal Code 207.
  10. Kidnapping, in violation of Penal Code 208 (kidnapping to commit specified sex offenses).
  11. Kidnapping, in violation of Penal Code 209 (kidnapping with the intent to commit a specified sexual offense).
  12. Aggravated sexual assault of a child, in violation of Penal Code 269.
  13. An offense committed in another jurisdiction that includes all of the elements of an offense specified in this subdivision.[2]

Legal Defenses

Challenging charges under Penal Code 667.71 can be a daunting task, though it is not entirely impossible. With a good defense, you and your attorney may be able to reduce or even dismiss a charge. Legal defenses which may be raised during trial largely depends on the facts of each case; thus, it is important that you discuss your case thoroughly with your lawyer before going to trial. Some of the most common defenses to accusations under PC 667.71 are: No probable cause; Coerced confession; and/or, Police arrested the wrong person.

“No Probable Cause”

The constitution provides for safeguards against authorities’ exercise of unbridled discretion towards arresting a person. In California jurisdiction, the law is specific to require that police officers must have probable cause to detain or arrest a suspect. Probable cause is defined as facts and circumstances that engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and that the person arrested is probably guilty thereof. In the absence of this probable cause, the arrest shall be deemed illegal. As a result thereof, any and all evidence obtained in the course of illegal arrest shall be excluded from evidence. This line of defense attempts to exclude evidence that is being used against a defendant for a PC 667.71 crime. In most instances, this exclusion can result in the dismissal or reduction in charges since prosecution will be left to proceed without any evidence.

“Coerced Confession”

This defense applies to the situation where a defendant was charged under PC 667.71 following a confession.

California law precludes police officers from using overbearing measures to coerce a confession. If the defendant can prove that he was only coerced to make a confession, then the judge may exclude the confession from evidence; or the case could get dropped altogether if the party got pressured into confessing to a crime he didn’t commit

Defendant is falsely accused or that Police Arrested the Wrong Person

Due process and opportunity to be heard are some of the essential rights accorded to defendants after being charged of an offense. As such, defendants are given full opportunity to present their defenses including the fact that they may have been wrongfully accused out of revenge, ill-will, or jealousy. In some instances, however, there can also be misidentifications of offenders. These are matters to be proven during trial.

Penalties

A person found to be a habitual sexual offender shall be held guilty of a felony and shall be punished with imprisonment in the state prison for 25 years to life. In addition to a more severe penalty, the offender shall also suffer lifetime registration as a sex offender, the offense being classified as a tier-three level offense under the new three-tiered level system of registration.

Related Offenses

Penal Code 667.71 on Habitual Sex Offender should be read in conjunction with its related offenses. There are three crimes related to charges involving habitual sexual offenders. These are:

  1. Rape – PC 261;
  2. Spousal rape – PC 262; and,
  3. Lewd acts with a minor child – PC 288

Let’s take a closer look at these related offenses.

1. Rape – PC 261

California Penal Code 261 PC defines rape as the use of force, threats, or fraud to have non-consensual sexual intercourse with another person. Rape is a felony punishable with imprisonment for three, six, or eight years in state prison. In addition to the penalty of imprisonment, conviction shall also result in mandatory registration as California Sex Offender.

The penalty prescribed for the crime of rape shall be substantially increased in cases when the alleged victim is a minor. In such cases, the prison term goes up to seven, nine, or eleven years.[3]

And if she (or he) is a minor under the age of 14, the possible term is nine, eleven, or thirteen years in prison.8

2. Marital Rape under Penal Code 262

California Penal Code 262 defines and penalizes what is known as marital rape. This crime is committed when a man or woman engages in an act of sexual intercourse with his/her spouse, without the spouse’s consent.[4]

The act of sexual intercourse is deemed to be “Without the spouse’s consent” within the meaning of this law under the following circumstances:

  1. The intercourse is accomplished against the spouse’s will, using either force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of bodily injury; or,
  2. The spouse is unable to resist due to drugs, alcohol, medication, or any other intoxicating substance…and the defendant knows or reasonably should know this.[5]

Conviction for this offense carries with it the same penalty as the imposed for rape of a stranger i.e. imprisonment in the state prison of up to 8 years.

3. Lewd Acts with a Minor Child under Penal Code 288

California Penal Code 288 defines and penalizes lewd and lascivious acts involving a child. PC 288 is a “wobbler” offense, which means that it may be charged as misdemeanor or a felony depending upon their circumstance and their prior criminal history. However, if convicted of a sex crime under this statute, you can expect to become a lifetime inclusion on California’s sex offender’s registry list.

By legal definition, a lewd act with a minor under Penal Code 288 is committed by either touching a child for sexual purposes, or causing a child to touch him/herself or someone else for a sexual purpose.

Penalties for child molestation, being a wobbler, will depend on a variety of factors, including: the age of the child, whether the lewd act was accomplished by force, violence, duress, or threats, whether there was a pattern of lewd acts, and if the child is 14 or 15, the age of the defendant. However, it should be noted that convictions under this provision will necessarily entail registration as sex offender whether charged as misdemeanor or felony offense.


If you have been arrested or been accused of a crime in California, call us as soon as possible to request your free consultation at (626) 827-7222.


[1] California Penal Code 667.71(a) PC.

[2] California Penal Code 667.71(c) PC. People v. Hammer (Cal., 2003), 30 Cal. 4th 756, 134 Cal. Rptr. 2d 590, 69 P.3d 436.

[3] California Penal Code 264 PC.

[4] California Penal Code 262 PC.

[5] Same.

Get in Touch with Coimbra Law

Schedule Your Free Appointment with Our Award-Winning West Covina Court Attorneys
Freedom at your Fingertips
    • Please enter your name.
    • This isn't a valid phone number.
    • Please enter your email address.
      This isn't a valid email address.
    • Please make a selection.
    • Please enter a message.
  • Must be checked