California Dems Cut Proposed Penalties For Child Prostitution Buyers

The California Senate passed a bill strengthening penalties for child sex trafficking after Democrats added a clause making purchasing sex from 16- and 17-year-olds a misdemeanor and making buying sex from children 15 years or younger a “wobbler” that cannot include prison time.

A “wobbler” is a crime that can be punished as either a felony or a misdemeanor in California.

Under existing California law, many crimes regarding purchasing sex from children are misdemeanors, with felony charges only available for cases involving minors 14 or under, or use of force. SB 1414, authored by state Sen. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, originally would have made attempted or successful solicitation of sex with a minor for money a felony with a prison sentence ranging from 2 to 4 years, a fine not exceeding $25,000, and registration as a sex offender. The bill would punish all those who solicit from a child, regardless of whether or not the person knew or reasonably should have known that the person solicited was a minor.