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Name: People v. Hillhouse
Case #: G030277
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 06/27/2003
Subsequent History: None

Appellant was charged with numerous sexual offenses against a person incapable of giving legal consent because of a mental disorder or developmental disability, in violation of Penal Code sections 288a, subdivision (g) and 289, subdivision (b). The victim was a 14-year-old minor who was developmentally disabled. The trial court dismissed the information on the ground that sections 288a, subdivision (g), and 289, subdivision (b) were inapplicable to acts committed against a minor, because minors are incapable of giving legal consent to sexual acts, without regard to any mental impairment. The prosecutor appealed the dismissal of the information, and in this opinion, the appellate court reversed the dismissal. If the Legislature had intended to restrict the definition of the victim, as it did in other statutes, it could have done so. Further, a minor may be capable of giving legal consent to sexual relations, and the existence of such consent is the distinction between crimes such as unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and rape, which carries a higher penalty. Here, the evidence showed that the victim functioned at the level of a first or second grader and lacked capacity for legal consent. There was also sufficient evidence that the defendant knew or should have known that the victim was incapable of giving consent to sexual acts.