High School Students Arrested - Accused of Sex Assault Hazing
We've unfortunately heard a great deal over the last year about teachers in southern California who have been accused of sexual assault against students.
Now, Anaheim Criminal Defense Lawyer Houman Fakhimi understands that fellow students are standing accused of sexually assaulting their younger classmates in an apparent hazing ritual.
The incidents reportedly occurred among soccer teammates at La Puente High School, about a half hour north of Anaheim in Los Angeles.
These are the kind of allegations that could effectively ruin a young person's future, including their chances of getting into a decent college and subsequently finding employment. It is critical that these students and their families not be intimidate by law enforcement or school officials into making statements that could be used against them in court. Police and prosecutors are masters of the interrogation process, and while use it to their advantage when questioning young defendants suspected of serious crimes. It is imperative for anyone arrested for a serious crime to immediately request and hire an attorney before answering any questions from police or school officials.
In all, four teens have been arrested on charges of sexual assault and a coach and school administrator have been placed on leave. The alleged victims said the coach did not participate in the alleged acts of sodomy with a foreign object, but was aware it was happening and even helped to lure victims into a storage room. An attorney representing two of the alleged victims has said that the coach knew what was happened and sanctioned it, giving the alleged victims a wink as they emerged from the storage room.
One of the younger students reportedly had to be hospitalized.
According to media reports, police have already conducted interviews with about 70 male students at the high school, and the investigation is ongoing.
Although all of the students accused thus far either are juveniles or were juveniles at the time of the alleged attacks, it is possible that prosecutors may choose to try them as adults. In California, anyone over the age of 14 can be tried as an adult for serious felony charges.
Some of the challenges juveniles (more than other defendants) face in adult court are:
- Believing that an arrest means they are guilty, and thus submitting a false confession or other statements because they don't fully understand it is their right to remain silent;
- Believing that they have to speak in court during early appearances;
- Believing whatever police or prosecutors tell them with regard to their legal status, and thus being bullied into accepting a plea deal;
- Waiving their right to a public defender.
Although there are definite disadvantages to having a case tried in adult court, there may, in some situations, be an advantage. For example, juvenile cases are heard solely before a judge, who tends to see delinquent youth all the time. Conversely, if the defendant's case is decided by a jury, juries tend to be more sympathetic to minors.
A skilled criminal defense attorney is going to be able to make the most of whatever situation you are facing.
Adults or those charged as adults for sexual battery under California Penal Code 243.4 may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, it carries up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine. As a felony, one faces up to 4 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
Either way, the individual would have to register as a sex offender, per California Penal Code section 290.
It's worth noting, particularly in this case, that an individual can be charged with sexual battery even if he or she was only an accomplice, and did not actively participate in the assault.
Contact Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are facing Anaheim criminal charges.