Is There a Statute of Limitations on Child Molestation [PC 288]?
California Penal Code 288 defines the crime of lewd and lascivious acts on a minor, more commonly known as child molestation. There are several crimes considered to be child molestation crimes but the most common are the following:
- PC 288(a): lewd or lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14;
- PC 288(b)(1): lewd or lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14 using force, threat, or duress;
- PC 288(c)(1): lewd or lascivious acts with a minor aged 14 or 15 years old.
Under PC 288, a lewd or lascivious act is an act where you willfully and lewdly touched any part of a child’s body or you willfully caused the child to touch your body or the body of someone else. The touching must have been conducted with the intent to arouse, appeal to, or gratify your lust, passions, or sexual desires, or those of the child.
Most convictions under PC 288 are felony crimes. If convicted of a crime under PC 288, you will be required to register as a sex offender for life under PC 290. If convicted under PC 288(a), you face up to 8 years in state prison and up to $10,000 in fines. If convicted under PC 288(b)(1), you face up to 10 years in state prison and up to $10,000 in fines. PC 288(c) is a wobbler offense, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to 1 year in county jail while a felony charge is punishable by up to 3 years in state prison.
Statute of Limitations for Lewd or Lascivious Acts with a Minor (PC 288)
In recent years, there has been a growing number of sex crimes involving minors that have only surfaced long after they were committed. Though victims have rights to see that justice is served, the statute of limitations exists because over time, evidence for a case can deteriorate and witness testimony can be less reliable. However, the statute of limitations for sex crimes in California are complicated.
In the past, California felony sex crimes had a 10-year statute of limitations, meaning you could not be charged with an offense if 10 years had passed since the alleged victim’s 18th birthday. However, the following new laws have made changes to the 10-year statute of limitations:
- Charges can be filed within one year of when the crime was reported to law enforcement if substantial sexual conduct was involved and there is independent evidence to support the alleged victim’s claims;
- Prosecution for a felony PC 288 offense can begin at any time if the crime was committed on or after January 1, 2017 and for crimes for which the statute of limitations that was in effect prior to January 1, 2017 and has not expired as of that date;
- A crime committed on or after January 1, 2015, or where the statute of limitations was in effect prior to that date, or have not expired since that date, and alleged to have been committed when the victim was under 18 years of age can be prosecuted at any time before the victim’s 40th birthday
If an offense is punishable by imprisonment in California state prison, prosecution must begin within 3 years after the commission of the offense. If the offense is punishable by up to 8 years or more in prison, prosecution must begin within 6 years after commission of the offense.
Defenses for Lewd and Lascivious Acts with a Minor (PC 288)
Because you face harsh penalties if convicted under PC 288, it is important to hire an experienced sex crimes attorney who will help defend you in your case. To convict you of violating PC 288, the prosecution must prove the following:
- You willfully touched any part of the child’s body either on the bare skin or through the clothing;
- You willfully caused the child to touch your own body, or the body of another on the bare skin or through the clothing;
- You committed the act with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of yourself or the child;
- The child was under the age of 14 at the time the act was committed.
Your attorney can show that the touching was accidental or you lacked the intent to cause sexual gratification of yourself or the child. False accusations are a common occurrence and your lawyer will argue that the child misunderstood the act, that the wrong person is being blamed, or that a third party is attempting to coach the child into making the allegation.
Your attorney should be willing to gather witness testimony or call the child’s credibility into question. They may also order a psychological profile, showing that you would not be capable of committing these acts. By building a strong defense, your sex crimes attorney can ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
Contact the Sex Crimes Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or someone you love has been accused of committing lewd or lascivious acts with a minor, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our sex crimes attorneys have over 35 years of experience successfully defending our clients against these very serious charges. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich sex crimes attorney available near you no matter where you are located.
Call our office today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.