Consequences of Online Enticement of a Minor for Sexual Activity (Penal Code Section 288.4)
Lawmakers are particularly concerned about harm being done to minors from sexual predators. Laws protecting children from being sexually assaulted, such as penal code 288.4, have become stricter as America wages war on a new front – sex offenders.
If you use any means to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, you may be face severe punishment. Many people who have been charged with this crime do so using online chat rooms, or through social media such as Facebook or Twitter.
It is important that you understand that luring a minor to engage in unlawful sexual activity can be charged as either a California or a federal offense, depending on the circumstances.
California Law Prohibits Arranging a Meeting with a Minor for Sexual Purposes (Penal Code Section 288.4)
Under California law, it is a crime to arrange a meeting with a minor or a person you believe is under the age of 18 for the purpose of “lewd and lascivious”(or sexual) conduct. Attempting to arrange a meeting with a minor for sexual activity is a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a maximum $5,000 fine upon conviction (Penal Code Section 288.4(a).).
However, if you have a prior sexual offense conviction listed under California Penal Code Section 290, you can be charged with a felony violation of Penal Code Section 288.4. A felony conviction of Penal Code Section 288.4 with a prior sex offense conviction is punishable by up to three years in prison and/or a maximum $10,000 fine.
If you in fact arrive at the arranged meeting with the minor, you can be charged with a felony. This conviction is punishable by up to four years in prison (Penal Code Section 288.4(b).).
Federal Law Prohibits Enticing a Minor for Sexual Activity (U.S.C. 2422(b).)
The punishment under federal law for enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity is very harsh.
Under federal law (18 U.S.C. § 2422(b).), if you use the mail or any facility to entice any individual under the age of 18 to engage in prostitution or “any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense” or attempt to do so, you face a minimum of 10 years to life in federal prison if you are convicted.
Recent Example of Enticing a Minor to Engage in Unlawful Sexual Activity
In 2010, 45-year-old Randy Shill met a 16-year-old high school girl in Oregon, to whom he later sent a “friend request” using Facebook. He told the girl she was “very beautiful,” at which point the girl alerted her father who contacted the FBI.
An FBI agent ultimately assumed control of the girl’s online accounts, pretending to be her while communicating with Shill. Believing the agent to be the underage girl, Shill engaged in sexually explicit online conversations with the agent and eventually arranged a meeting to have sex.
When he arrived at the meeting place, Shill was apprehended by FBI agents. Shill was found to be in violation of third degree sexual abuse of a minor and contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor, both misdemeanors under Oregon law.
Because these crimes met the definition under federal law of “any sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense,” Shill was charged under 18 U.S.C. § 2242(b).
Shill pled guilty to the federal crime of enticing a minor and received the mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years authorized under federal law.1
Enticing a Minor to Engage in Sexual Activity is a Registerable Sex Offense
Perhaps as devastating as a lengthy jail or prison sentence and/or a heavy fine, a conviction for seducing a minor online requires you to register as a sex offender. Once registered, this information is made public, making it difficult or impossible to secure and maintain gainful employment and housing.
Among other restrictions, California state law prohibits a sex offender from residing within 2,000 feet of any schools or parks where children gather. Although the state law applies to sex offenders paroled from prison, vast numbers of cities and counties have enacted their own local laws prohibiting where a sex offender may live even after he or she is off parole or probation.
Sex offender registration is a lifetime requirement in California. Failure to register is illegal. Sex offender registration can mean a lifetime of hardship for you and your family.
Call the Sex Crimes Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If you or someone you care about has been accused of an unlawful sex crime such as enticing a minor for sexual activity, immediately contact an experienced sex crimes defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich. The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully representing our clients facing sex offenses in both state and federal court.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, the skilled and aggressive criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been able to help our clients successfully defend against registerable sex offenses. We will do everything within our power to help you get the best possible result in your case.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. United States v. Shill, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Case No. 13-30008; http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2014/01/24/13-30008.pdf↩