Pregnancy a Factor in Degree of Sex Crime Sentences

A California Supreme Court ruled that a sexual assault that leaves a victim pregnant could result in a harsher sentence for the offender. It further said that a pregnancy could be considered a “great bodily injury.”

The case involved a man who repeatedly had sexual intercourse with his 13-year-old stepdaughter. The teen became pregnant and the man arranged for her to have a surgical abortion when she was 25 weeks pregnant.

The accused man appealed, arguing that a pregnancy without complications is not a substantial injury and neither is an abortion he did not perform. The court agreed with the man on the abortion matter, but decided the pregnancy legally qualified as a significant injury.

Even though they ruled on this particular case, the justices did split 5-2 on whether every pregnancy from a sexual assault would amount to a great injury—the majority said it was a question for juries to decide, which the jury in this case did.

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