Where the prosecution presented no direct evidence of sexual penetration, defendant’s confession, plus circumstantial evidence of other prohibited acts, established the corpus delicti of the offense. Sanchez was convicted of four sex offenses committed against two minors under the age of 10 years. On appeal, he claimed the evidence was insufficient to establish the corpus delicti of sexual penetration of a child 10 years of age or younger (Pen. Code, § 288.7, subd. (b)). Held: Affirmed. In every criminal case the prosecution must prove the corpus delicti of the offense, i.e., the fact of injury, loss, or harm, and the existence of a criminal agency as the cause of the harm. In California, the prosecution may not establish the body of the crime based exclusively on the confession, admission or extrajudicial statements of the defendant. However, the independent proof may be circumstantial and need not be shown beyond a reasonable doubt. It is sufficient if it permits a reasonable inference of criminal conduct. Sanchez admitted to police that he digitally penetrated one of the minors while giving her a piggyback ride. The minor did not recall such an event and no one else witnessed the crime. While there is no direct evidence of the specific prohibited act other than Sanchezs confession, there was other evidence from both minors that Sanchez committed other prohibited acts. Thus, there is more than sufficient corroborating evidence to provide a prima facie showing of injury, loss, or harm by a criminal agency.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/C073360.PDF