Hon: Sex offenders face stiffer penalties Sept. 1
Polk County Enterprise, July 2007
LIVINGSTON – On June 15, 2007, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law House Bill 8 commonly referred to as “Jessica’s Law”.
The new law, relating to the prosecution, punishment and supervision of sex offenders becomes effective Sept. 1 of this year, according to Polk County Criminal District Attorney Lee Hon.
Among other features, Jessica’s Law subjects certain repeat sex offenders to the death penalty or to life without parole and sets out procedures for repeat sex offenders in capital cases.
According to Hon, the law also creates the new offense of “Continuous Sexual Abuse” of a young child or children and sets punishment as a “Super First Degree Felony” with a punishment range of 25 years to life in prison.
In addition, Jessica’s Law enhances the punishment range for the offense of Aggravated Sexual Assault to 25 years to life where the victim is younger than 6 years of age and, with the presence of specified aggravating elements, where the victim is younger than fourteen.
The new law also increases the punishment for the offense of Sexual Performance by a Child where the victim is younger than 14, Hon stated.
Other important features of Jessica’s Law include the extension of the statute of limitations for the prosecution of certain sex offenses from 10 years past the victim’s 18th birthday to 20 years past the victim’s 18th birthday.
For some major sex crimes, the law completely abolishes the statue of limitations. Defendants sentenced to prison for the offense of Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child, and for the Aggravated Sexual Assault of certain young victims will not be eligible for parole or early release, according to Hon.
The new law also provides that persons convicted of certain specified sex offenses will no longer be eligible for probation or community supervision.
“I think Jessica’s Law is going to be a very effective tool in our ongoing effort to completely eradicate the sexual molestation and exploitation of children in Polk County,” Hon stated. “People who are inclined to victimize young children need to be fully aware that this law will be effective Sept. 1 and that the Polk County Criminal District Attorney’s Office intends to enforce Jessica’s Law to its fullest extent,” Hon added.