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HB 2589 would amend the chapter entitled “Assaultive Offenses” of the Penal Code to amend the definition of “disabled individual” for the purpose of more accurately describing who would be considered a victim of aggravated sexual assault. The age component of the definition of "disabled individual" under this statute currently begins at 14 years old. This legislation would change the age to 13 years old.
As described by the bill author there is a gap in the current law where the abusers of certain children may be charged with sexual assault rather than the more serious charge of aggravated sexual assault. This bill aims to close that gap so that 13 year old children who are neither considered "children" nor "disabled individuals" for the purposes of charging their abusers with the elevated penalty can be better protected under the law. Closing this gap neither creates a new penalty nor unduly elevates an existing penalty, so there is no overcriminalization concern with this bill.
We support this bill for preserving the individual liberty of the victims and for requiring their abusers to take a greater degree of responsibility for their heinous crimes.