In light of the recent scandals that have rocked both Penn State University and Syracuse University, our sex crimes lawyers have been getting asked a lot of questions about child molestation, and the various legal defenses that might be employed in these highly publicized trials.

Lewd and Lascivious Act on a child is an extremely serious criminal offense, but one that may be defensible in California if handled properly by an experienced sex crimes defense attorney. Below is a short general summary of the law but California sex crime laws are extensive and cannot be easily summarized without knowing the facts of a specific case.

A person may be charged with committing A lewd or lascivious act under California Penal Code § 288 when:
– He or she willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act,
– The person commits the act on or with the body or any part of the body of a child less than 14 years old; and
– The person commits the act with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of that person or of the child
– Any touching of the child committed with the intent to sexually arouse the person or the child can constitute a lewd or lascivious act under the meaning of the law. The touching itself need not be in an inherently lewd manner, and sometimes may even have the outward appearance of innocence.

It may also be of any part of the victim’s body, or on the victim’s clothes. A common misconception is that rape must occur or that even contact with the bare skin, or with “private parts” is required. It is in fact not, and a person may be charged with this crime for what may appear innocent touching. That is why it is crucial to have a qualified criminal defense lawyer to ensure that a person charged with this serious crime gets the best representation possible and has his or her side of the story heard.

The circumstances of the touching are highly relevant to whether the touching was done to sexually arouse the defendant or the child. Factors that a court or a prosecutor will consider include:

– The person’s statements to a police officer;
– If the person accused has any prior acts of lewd conduct admitted or charged against him;
– The relationship of the person being accused and the alleged victim; and
– If there was any coercion, bribery, or deceit used to obtain the victim’s cooperation to avoid reporting the crime

If you or a loved one have been charged with Penal Code 288, contact the experienced Southern California criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich. We’ve have been helping criminal defendants for over 30 years. Call us at (877) 466-5245.

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