Definition and Aspects of Lewd Acts with a Minor:
Arranging a meeting with a minor to engage in sexual conduct is strictly against the law. Under California Penal Code 288.4 (PC 288.4), lewd acts with a minor is a wobbler offense that could result in severe jail or prison time, fines, and further consequences.
To be convicted of California Penal Code 288.4 (PC 288.4), the Prosecution must prove the following:
- The Defendant arranged a meeting with a minor or a person the Defendant thought to be a minor
- The purpose of this meeting was to satisfy an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in children
- The Defendant had the intention of exposing his/her pubic area, genitals, or rectal region or have the minor expose their public area, or have the minor engage in lewd behavior
By law, a minor is defined as anyone under the legal age of 18. This means that even a sexually mature and active 17-year-old is included under this statute, and anyone over the age of 18 is prohibited from participating in any form of lewd activities with the minor.
Additionally, the Defendant had to know or be under the impression that the Victim in question was a minor. This is important because there are multiple examples of undercover police officers posing as minors to catch predators who are engaging or trying to engage in lewd acts with a person they believe to be under-aged.
Lastly, under California Penal Code 288.4 (PC 288.4), the Defendant has to show up to the meeting and either expose his/her genitalia, have the minor expose themselves, or engage in lewd or lascivious conduct with the minor. A lewd act is defined as any activity that is supposed to result in sexual arousal in either the Defendant or the child.
Criminal Offenses Related to Lewd Acts with a Minor:
Similar or related offenses to California Penal Code 288.4 (PC 288.4), Lewd Acts with a Minor:
- Statutory Rape – California Penal Code 261.5 (PC 261.5)
- Harmful Matter Sent with the Intent Seduce a Minor – California Penal Code 288.2 (PC 288.2)
- Loitering at School – California Penal Code 653(b) (PC 653(b))
Examples of Lewd Acts with a Minor:
A man meets a girl on an online portal. After engaging in conversation and exchanging a couple of photographs where the girl looks to be over the age of 18, she confesses that she’s only 15 years old. If the man still chooses to meet the girl in person with the intention of continuing their sexual conversations in person, he could be charged with California Penal Code 288.4 (PC 288.4). While the girl looked older, the man was aware of her actual age and, therefore would be guilty of violating this statute.
In another example, a female teacher in her thirties develops a crush on one of her underaged high school students. She arranges a meeting with the 17-year-old boy with the intention of seducing him. If she acts on her impulses, she could be found guilty of Lewd Acts with a Minor (PC 288.4).
On the other hand, if the teacher was attracted to her student but arranged the meeting for studying purposes and never intended to act on her desire, she would not be in violation of this statute.
Defenses for Lewd Acts with a Minor:
One of the common defenses for California Penal Code 288.4 (PC 288.4) questions the intention of the Defendant. If he/she did not arrange a meeting as a result of sexual interest in minors, but as an innocent gathering, the Defendant would not be in violation of this statute.
Also, if the Defendant did not intend on engaging in lewd acts, he/she would not be guilty. This is true even if he/she had arranged the meeting motivated by sexual interest; if there was no intent at the time of the meeting, the case could be dismissed.
Often police officers are posing undercover as minors in order to trap predators. If the Defendant was pressured, harassed, or threatened into engaging in Lewd Acts with a Minor, he/she wouldn’t be guilty of California Penal Code 288.4 (PC 288.4). An experienced Defense Attorney could help with proving the Defendant’s innocence and aid him/her through the process of getting the accusation dismissed.
Lastly, if the Defendant was reasonably under the impression that the person he/she was meeting with was not a minor, an effective defense attorney could get the case thrown out. This means that if a reasonable person would agree that the minor looked like an adult or have shown a fake ID posing as an adult, the Defendant wouldn’t be in violation of this statute (PC 288.4). One of the requirements for Lewd Acts (PC 288.4) is that the accused person is under the impression that the Victim is under the age of 18. In this scenario, the Defendant wouldn’t have violated this statute.
Consequences and Penalty for Lewd Acts with a Minor:
California Penal Code 288.4 (PC 288.4) is a wobbler offense, meaning that it could either be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the details of the crime and the history of the Defendant.
If Lewd Acts with a Minor (PC 288.4) is charged as a misdemeanor, the Defendant could be sentenced to jail for up to one year, pay fines up to $5,000, and/or be subject to misdemeanor probation.
If he/she is charged with a felony, the Defendant could face felony probation, 16 months – 3 years in prison, and fines up to $10,000. Additionally, the convicted person would be required to register as a tier one sex offender, which carries a minimum of a 10-year registration requirement. This means that he/she would have to notify the city or county every year within five days of his/her birthday and every time he/she moves.
California Penal Code 288.4 (PC 288.4) is automatically a felony offense if the Defendant has a history of a sex crime that required him/her to register under California’s Sex Offender Registration Act.
Lewd Acts with a Minor, under California Penal Code 288.4 (PC 288.4), is a wobbler offense that can result in jail or prison time and severe fines, and in certain cases, even having to register as a sex offender. It is essential that if you or someone you know is charged with Lewd Acts, you contact an expert 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 sexual harassment and rape-related cases 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 288.4 (PC 288.4), Lewd Acts with a Minor. Book a free consultation today.