Criminal Law Expanded

Child Sexual Assault / Child Molestation

Engaging in sexual activities with a child or in a child’s presence is against the law. Illegal activity can include sexual stimulation of the child, masturbating in front of a child, and the intentional touching of a child’s private parts. The creation of child pornography and any form of sexual penetration of a child is also illegal. Punishments for child sexual assault and child molestation vary depending on the charged conduct and the severity of the offense.


Rape is an assault which consists of having sexual intercourse with another person without their consent. Sexual assault crimes may also include forcing another person into sexual acts against their will. Rape can also occur when a sexual act occurs with a person unable to give consent, such as a person with a mental disability or who is unconscious. In California, rape carries a sentence of up to 8 years and possibly longer if special circumstances are present.

Statutory rape is defined as having sex with a person, other than a spouse, who is under 18 years of age. However, if a person engages in sex with a person less than three years younger they may be charged with a misdemeanor.

A parole hearing is a hearing to determine whether an inmate should be released from prison to parole supervision in the community for the remainder of the sentence. The hearing is conducted by a Hearing Examiner of the United States Parole Commission. The decision on whether the inmate should be granted parole is made by a Commissioner of the United States Parole Commission after reviewing the hearing record created by the Hearing Examiner.

Only an inmate eligible for parole consideration under the sentence imposed by the court is scheduled for a parole hearing. Usually, the inmate must serve a minimum term of incarceration (imposed by the sentencing court) before the inmate is eligible for parole. In some cases the inmate may receive a hearing before reaching the parole eligibility date, but in no case may an inmate be released to parole before reaching the eligibility date.

Expungement (also called “expunction”) is a court-ordered process in which the legal record of an arrest or a criminal conviction is “sealed,” or erased in the eyes of the law. When a conviction is expunged, the process may also be referred to as “setting aside a criminal conviction.” The availability of expungement, and the procedure for getting an arrest or conviction expunged, will vary according to the state or county in which the arrest or conviction occurred. While expungement deals with an underlying criminal record, it is a civil action in which the subject is the petitioner or plaintiff asking a court to declare that the records be expunged.

A restraining order is an official command issued by a court to refrain from certain activity. Restraining orders are sought by plaintiffs in a wide variety of instances for the same reason: the plaintiff wishes to prevent the defendant from doing something that he or she has threatened. Restraining orders are used in a variety of contexts, including employment disputes, Copyright infringement, and cases of harassment, domestic abuse, and Stalking.

Resentence means to issue a new sentence for certain crimes. When a sentence of punishment is found to be void or illegal, it will be committed back to the trial court for declaring a new sentence.

A request made by a party, after a judgment is entered in a lawsuit, that the judge vacates that judgment and order a new trial. Typically, a motion for new trial argues that the judge made a significant legal error or that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict. In many jurisdictions, a party must make a motion for a new trial to reserve the right to make the same arguments on appeal.