California: Leftist groups oppose increasing penalties for soliciting sex with a child

Under current state law, if convicted of the crime of "solicitation involving a minor" for sexual purposes, the penalty carries a maximum of one year in prison. The new rule would have penalties of "2, 3, or 4 years, and a fine not to exceed $25,000."

In the California State Legislature, the battle to advance a law that would increase penalties for child sex trafficking is intensifying, as leftist groups such as Californians for Safety and Justice, the California Public Defenders Association and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights oppose its approval.

According to the current state law, soliciting a child for sexual purposes is a misdemeanor. The text states that "if you're convicted of solicitation involving a minor, the first-time penalty involves a minimum of two days in a county jail, with a maximum term of one year, and/or a fine of up to $10,000."

Republican state Sen. Shannon Grove is leading the initiative with the SB 1414 to elevate this misdemeanor to a felony:

This bill would require a person who, on or after January 1, 2025, is convicted of soliciting a minor, as specified, to annually register as a sex offender for a term of 10 years ... This bill would instead, if the person solicited was a minor, regardless of whether or not the person knew or reasonably should have known that the person solicited was a minor, make the offense punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 2, 3, or 4 years, and a fine not to exceed $25,000.

20230SB1414_99 by Veronica Silveri

Similar efforts have failed since 2014

According to Grove, in statements to KCRA 3, her motivation to pursue traffickers stems from conversations he has had with survivors of sex trafficking.

A lot of the survivors of lived experience have said you’ve gotta go after the buyer, it’s just a misdemeanor and I said there is no way. ... I thought they were mistaken.

However, Grove is not only facing radical left-wing groups that do not want the bill to go forward, she is also fighting resistance from other progressive lawmakers who refuse to increase prison sentences. This is not the first time a similar bill has been introduced in the California State Legislature. Other proposed measures with the same purpose have failed since 2014.