September 30, 2010 By Stephen Klarich

The United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, ruled that two Oregon statutes that criminalized exposing minors to sexually explicit materials were unconstitutional and could not be adequately enforced. These statutes, aimed at abolishing the practice of “luring” and “grooming” minors with sexually provocative materials so that they would be less squeamish about engaging in sexual conduct, were intended to prevent sexual abuse of minors at its earliest stages.

The parties opposing the laws, which included booksellers and non-profit literary, legal, and health organizations, argued that the laws were a violation of First Amendment Free Speech. They specifically claimed that the laws were constitutionally over-broad by criminalizing a substantial amount of permitted speech ranging from sexual education materials to novels intended for children and young adults by authors such as Judy Blume. The Court agreed with the opposition and struck down the laws, stating that the actual text of the laws could be interpreted to include a much larger range of protected speech than intended – thus rendering the laws unenforceable due to their over-breath.

Sexual conduct with a minor is a punishable crime in California under Penal Code Section 288(a). Any person under this statute who “willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act…upon or with the body…of a child who is under the age of 14 years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying lusts, passions, or
sexual desires of that person or the child, is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.”

In addition to a prison sentence, a conviction under Penal Code Section 288(a) may also result in a lifetime obligation to register as a sex offender with local law enforcement agencies pursuant to California Penal Code Section 290. A failure to comply with this requirement will likely result in further penalties that include additional fines and jail time.

If you are accused of engaging in acts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor, it is very important that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our Southern California defense attorneys have over 30 years of experience in handling child molestation cases. We will work hard to ensure that you are given aggressive representation for the purpose of achieving the best possible results in your case. Call us today at (877) 466-5245 or visit us online at We will be there for you when you call.

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