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Consecutive Sentences, Not Concurrent Sentences, Upheld in Forcible Sex Case

Posted by attorney Greg Hill

A San Joaquin County jury convicted Kesh Maharaj of multiple counts of lewd and lascivious conduct involving the same girl, who was under age 14. One count involved forcible lewd and lascivious conduct (Penal Code § 288 (b)) and three counts involved aggravated sexual assault (Penal Code § 269). In nine counts, he was convicted of lewd and lascivious touching. (Penal Code § 288 (a)).

The judge sentenced Maharaj to a determinate term of 33 years and four months, plus an indeterminate term of 45 years to life.

Generally speaking, Penal Code § 667.6 (a) allows the court to exercise its discretion in choosing between concurrent and consecutive sentencing. In this case, the trial court judge considered the evidence presented and stated on the record at sentencing that each of three counts of violating Penal Code § 269 were separate incidents. Consequently, as to each count, the judge imposed a full consecutive term of fifteen years to life. Defendant did not object to this at the trial court level.

Defendant then appealed the consecutive sentences, arguing that the trial court judge failed to state on the record why he was imposing consecutive sentences. In People v. Kesh Maharaj(2012 DJDAR 3837), the Third Appellate District examined the trial court record and found that defense counsel forfeited his right to challenge the consecutive sentences by failing to object in a timely manner. Therefore, the appellate court found the appeal was not cognizable for lack of objection at sentencing.

Alternatively, defendant argued that the trial court erred in sentencing him to a consecutive term for violating Penal Code § 288 (b) (lewd and lascivious touching) for conduct that occurred with the same victim at the same time as his conviction for violating Penal Code § 269 (aggravated sexual assault on a child under the age of 14 years). In other words, defendant was arguing he was being sentenced twice, and thus to unfairly longer term, for a single event.

The Third Appellate District disagreed, citing to the text of Penal Code § 667.6 (d), which mandates that a trial court to impose a “full, separate and consecutive term for each violation of an offense specified in subdivision (e) if the crimes involve… the same victim on separate occasions." The court commented that this sentencing scheme applies only when a defendant stands convicted of more then one offense specified in subdivision (e).

Looking to subdivision (e), the court noted that (e) included forcible lewd and lascivious acts upon a child under the age of 14, as well as lewd and lascivious touching. Therefore, consecutive terms were mandated and the trial court did not make a mistake because defendant was convicted of each offense on separate occasions. More fundamentally, the appellate court found a statutory ground to uphold the sentencing without even addressing the argument that defendant made concerning the same event.

If you are charged with a sex offense, call Greg Hill. He has handled over fifty of the most serious sex offenses statewide in his thirteen years of practice. His office is in Torrance, California. He is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate (B.S., 1987), Boston University graduate (M.B.A., 1994) and Loyola Law School graduate (J.D., 1998). Greg Hill & Associates represents clients in Torrance, Long Beach and the surrounding areas in sex offenses, as well as DUI, domestic violence and restraining orders, among other crimes. Visit the firm’s website at http://www.greghillassociates.com or the firm’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/greg-hill-associates/198954460153651.

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