Far-Left Groups Oppose Bill to Increase Penalties for Purchasing or Soliciting a Child for Sex — Current Law Caps Jail Time at One Year, $10,000 Fine

The legislative battle in California heats up as progressive ‘social justice’ groups on the left oppose a bill that seeks to toughen penalties for buying or soliciting a child for sex.

According to current state regulations, this offense is only considered a misdemeanor, with penalties including up to one year in county jail, a minimum of two days behind bars, and a possible fine of $10,000. Those convicted are also mandated to register as tier-one sex offenders for a minimum of ten years.

Republican State Senator Shannon Grove is leading the charge with SB 1414 to upgrade the offense to a felony.

Last month, Senate Bill 1414 (SB 1414) was presented to toughen penalties for child sex trafficking.

The proposed legislation aims to classify soliciting or participating in commercial sex with a minor as a felony, carrying potential sentences of two to four years in prison and fines reaching $25,000.

Senator Grove’s motivation comes from discussions with survivors of sex trafficking, who stress the importance of targeting buyers to effectively combat the issue.

“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,” Grove told KCRA 3. “I thought they were mistaken.”

The proposed legislation also seeks to remove the requirement that convicted individuals must have known or reasonably should have known the minor’s age. Additionally, it aims to extend the mandatory sex offender registration period for buyers to ten years.

Grove is encountering pushback from other lawmakers cautious about extending prison terms.

According to the Senate Public Safety Committee’s assessment, there is evident opposition from advocacy groups focused on criminal justice reform, including Californians for Safety and Justice, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and the California Public Defenders Association.

According to KCRA 3, this isn’t the first attempt to introduce a bill of this kind at the state capitol; similar endeavors have encountered setbacks since 2014.

The Senate Public Safety Committee is set to review the bill on Tuesday, with Grove aiming to build on the momentum generated by last year’s bipartisan success.

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That legislation categorized child sex trafficking as a serious felony under California’s three strikes law.

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By Hunter Fielding
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