California has a series of laws that address the sexual abuse of children. Primary among these is Penal Code 288 – Lewd Acts on a Child. This section makes it a crime to touch a child anywhere on the child’s body, if done for sexual purposes. A conviction carries up to eight years in state prison.
But the legislature has enacted other laws that deal with the most extreme instances of child molestation.
Continuous sexual abuse of a child (Penal Code 288.5) is when a person engages in sexual contact with a child under 14, and does so three or more times over a span of three months or greater. A conviction under this section carries up to 16 years in prison.
Sexual acts with a child under 10 (Penal Code 288.7) is when a person engages in sexual conduct with a child under 10 years old. This section carries a sentence of life in prison even on a first offense.
These laws reflect the legislature’s view that a perpetrator who engages in repetitious conduct, or who chooses very young children as victim, represents an even greater danger to the community and thus should be dealt with in the harshest terms.