November 16, 2012 By Stephen Klarich

Being convicted of “lewd acts with a minor” under California Penal Code 288 carries severe penalties.  Depending upon the specifics of the case, prosecutors can charge a defendant with either a felony or misdemeanor.  The differences between the two are the potential jail/prison time to be served and the amount of the fine that will be levied.

Felony Penalties for Lewd Acts with a Child

Felony charges subject the defendant to a state prison sentence of one (1) to eight (8) years and a maximum $10,000 fine.

Misdemeanor Penalties for Lewd Acts with a Child

Misdemeanor charges subject the defendant to a maximum one (1)-year county jail sentence and a maximum $1,000 fine.

If the Defendant Is Found Guilty

The following penalties will also be imposed if the defendant is found guilty.

Penalties for Violating California Penal Code 288:

•    The perpetrator must register as a sex offender (pursuant to California Penal Code 290)
•    The perpetrator must pay for any medical or psychological treatment the minor incurs as a result of the offense
•    If the minor suffered great bodily injury because force or violence was used to commit the offense, the perpetrator must serve an additional and consecutive five (5)-year state prison sentence

Specifics of the Case

Ultimately the penalties for violating the lewd acts with a minor law in California depend on the specifics of the case.  Prosecutors use the following circumstances to determine the severity of the charges they file against a defendant:

•    Age of the child, and possibly the age difference between the defendant and child
•    Specific facts of the case (e.g., was force or violence involved)
•    Defendant’s criminal history

Separate Offenses

It’s also crucially important to understand that each independent act of child molestation in California is a separate offense, which is punishable as its own violation.  This means that if a perpetrator were to fondle a part of a child’s body, then proceeded to fondle a different part of the child’s body, this would be two (2) separate counts of lewd acts with a minor in California.


When an alleged victim is 14 or 15 years old and the perpetrator is at least 10 years older, the charge is what’s known as a “wobbler.”  Prosecutors can file wobblers as either a felony or misdemeanor.

Wallin & Klarich – Distinguished Southern California Criminal Defense Attorneys

Wallin & Klarich have been successfully defending persons accused of sex crimes in California for over 30 years.  Our highly skilled teams of distinguished defense attorneys fight aggressively for every client with cutting-edge techniques.  Utilizing professional private investigators and respected psychologists and medical experts, we act to ensure the best possible outcome for all of our clients.

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Contact Wallin & Klarich now at (877) 466-5245 or visit us at if you or a loved one has been charged with a sex crime in California. We will be there when you call.

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