Can a Child Be Charged with Child Molestation? (PC 288)
In nearly one-third of all sex crimes cases in which the victim was a minor, the perpetrator is also under the age of 18. So, do minors face the same criminal penalties as adults who commit lewd acts involving another minor?
Over the past 35 years, our skilled child molestation attorneys have experienced many cases in which the defendant was a minor. Let’s closely examine the definition of PC 288 and how a minor could be charged with committing lewd or lascivious acts involving a minor.
Can a Child Commit Lewd or Lascivious Act with a Child? (PC 288)
In order to be convicted of child molestation under PC 288, the prosecutor must prove all of the following elements:
- You purposefully touched a child’s body either on the bare skin or through the clothing; OR you caused a child to touch his or her own body, your body, or someone else’s body, either on the bare skin or through clothing; AND
- You committed the act with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions or sexual desires of yourself or the victim; AND
- The victim was under the age of 14 at the time of the incident
Notice that the language of these elements does not mention the defendant’s age. That is because you could be charged with this crime even if you are under the age of 18.
Is the Punishment Different if You are a Minor?
If you are an adult charged with committing lewd or lascivious acts upon a minor, you will be facing felony charges. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000 if convicted under PC 288.
But what if you are a minor? The penalties you face depend upon how you are charged. Minors 14 years old or older could be charged in the criminal justice system and face the same penalties as an adult who is convicted under PC 288. Some cases must go to the criminal courts, depending on the circumstances surrounding the case — for instance, cases involving forcible sex acts. However, cases involving anyone under the age of 18 typically can be handled in the juvenile court system.
If the matter is handled in juvenile court, a judge could impose the following punishment at a disposition hearing:
- You may be allowed to live with your parent(s) or legal guardian under court supervision
- You may be required to move out of your family home to live with a relative, in foster care, a group home or an institution
- You may have to serve probation
- You may be placed on probation AND sent to a probation camp or ranch; or
- You may be committed to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) up to the age of 25
Like adults, minors convicted under PC 288 may be required to register as a sex offender under PC 290.
Contact an Experienced Child Molestation Attorney Immediately
If you or your minor child has been charged with a sex crime, the best thing you could do is speak to an experienced child molestation attorney right away. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled sex crimes attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing child molestation charges for more than 35 years. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Los Angeles and San Diego, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich child molestation attorney available near you no matter where you are located.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.