Definition and Aspects of Harmful Matter Sent to Seduce a Minor:
California Penal Code 288.2 (PC 288.2) makes it a misdemeanor or, in some cases, a felony to send obscene or explicit materials to a minor with the intent to arouse either the minor or the sender or to facilitate sex with the minor. A minor is any person under the age of 18. A violator of this offense faces misdemeanor or felony charges that have severe consequences, including registering as a sex offender for the rest of the Defendant’s life.
To be convicted of California Penal Code 288.2 (PC 288.2), the Prosecution must prove the following:
- The Defendant knowingly and willingly sent or distributed harmful material to a minor by any means
- The Defendant was aware that the recipient was a minor
- The Defendant had the intention to arouse himself/herself or the minor; or facilitate sexual relations with the minor
- The Defendant sent the material with the purpose of engaging in sexual activity, intercourse, or oral copulation with the minor
This statute does not limit the accused of just sending the material in person but also applies to online activity. California Penal Code 288.2 (PC 288.2) has a broad umbrella to make it illegal to attempt to corrupt, seduce, or send sexual materials to anyone under the age of 18. Additionally, initiating any sexual conduct with a minor through messages sent is also a violation of California Penal Code 288.2 (PC 288.2).
Physical contact is not required in order to be in violation of this statute. If the Defendant sent explicit material that never resulted in an actual sexual relation, the Defendant would still be guilty of violating California Penal Code 288.2 (PC 288.2).
This statute defines harmful content as:
- Content that shows or describes sexual conduct in a blatantly offensive way
- A reasonable person would agree that the material does not add scientific, literary, political, or artistic value to the minor
- A rational adult would agree the material sent was of ‘prurient interest’
‘Prurient interest’ refers to a lewd or shameful interest in sex, nudity, or excretion. Body parts that fall under this category would include female breasts, sexual organs of either gender, anuses, or groins, sent with the intention of seduction.
For the purposes of California Penal Code 288.2 (PC 288.2), if the material was distributed as a form of education by a legitimate source, it does not violate the statute.
Criminal Offenses Related to Harmful Matter Sent to Seduce a Minor:
Similar or related offenses to California Penal Code 288.2 (PC 288.2), Harmful Matter Sent to Seduce a Minor:
- Child Endangerment – California Penal Code 273(a) (PC 273(a))
- Oral Copulation with a Minor – California Penal Code 287 (PC 287)
- Lewd Acts with a Minor – California Penal Code 288 (PC 288)
- Child Pornography – California Penal Code 311 (PC 311)
Examples of Harmful Matter Sent to Seduce a Minor:
A man in his thirties is aware that his next-door neighbor just turned sixteen years old. After obtaining the neighbor’s phone number, the man begins to send messages attempting to facilitate intimate contact between the two of them. He includes pictures and explicit descriptions of acts he would like to perform with the underaged neighbor. Under California Penal Code 288.2 (PC 288.2), the man could be charged with harmful matter sent to seduce a minor.
In another example, a biology teacher in a local middle school shows pictures of both female and male reproductive organs to her students as part of the school’s sexual education program. In this scenario, even though she showed nude materials, the teacher did not intend to seduce the students, and it was done in a legitimate, formal setting. Therefore, she is exempt from California Penal Code 288.2 (PC 288.2).
Defenses to Harmful Matter Sent to Seduce a Minor:
One potential defense questions the harmfulness of the material sent. If a reasonable person would disagree that the content distributed to the minor was explicit, the case could be dismissed. Since most adults have different ideas of what crosses the line, the Judge would use his/her best judgment to asses every individual case as needed.
Additionally, if the Defendant did not have harmful intentions when sending or showing the material to the minor, it would not fall under California Penal Code 288.2 (PC 288.2). One of the requirements the Prosecution has to prove is that the content was shared with the intent to sexually arouse or to facilitate sexual relations with the minor. If the pictures were distributed for educational purposes, the Defendant would not be guilty.
Lastly, if the material was sent or shown accidentally, the charges could be lowered or potentially dropped. The Defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt if he/she sent the material knowingly and willingly, with harmful intentions. It does not apply if the content got out by accident or got into the hands of the minor without the intention of the Defendant.
Consequences and Penalty for Harmful Matter Sent to Seduce a Minor:
California Penal Code 288.2 (PC 288.2), sending harmful material to seduce a minor, is a ‘wobbler’ offense, meaning it could either be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the details of the incident.
If it is charged as a misdemeanor, the punishment is up to one year in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines. In this case, if the sentence is met and the penalties are paid off, a Defendant could potentially get the misdemeanor charge expunged from his/her record.
A felony conviction results in a maximum fine of $10,000 and up to three years spent in state prison. Violators would also have to register as sex offenders, as per California Penal Code 290 (PC 290). This is perhaps the harshest predicament, as a Defendant would carry this title for the rest of his/her life, potentially preventing promotions, job opportunities, awards, and resulting in unfavorable judgments for future crimes.
If the convicted is not a citizen of the United States, a felony charge could end in deportation and being marked as ‘inadmissible’ to the States.
Furthermore, in the state of California, felony convictions result in the loss of the right to carry or obtain firearms.
Harmful material sent to seduce a minor, under California Penal Code 288.2 (PC 288.2), is a wobbler offense that carries serious, potentially life-long consequences. It is crucial that if you or someone you know is charged with sending obscene or harmful materials to someone under the age of 18, you contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
For an experienced attorney on your side, Action Lavitch from Action Defense Lawyers is available 24/7 at (747) DEFEND U or (747) 333-3638. With a proven track record of serious sex crimes against a minor and speaking both English and Spanish, Action Lavitch and the team from Action Defense Lawyers provide skilled legal representation and professional advice. Having an above 90% success rate for clients, Action Defense Lawyers is the go-to for those charged with California Penal Code Section 288.2 (PC 288.2), Harmful Matter Sent to Seduce a Minor. Book a free consultation today.