June 17, 2024 By WK Law

What You Need To Know If You Are Accused of Child Molestation – Penal Code Section 288

Facing accusations of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor in California can be daunting. These charges carry severe legal implications and could dramatically impact your life. This blog aims to provide a comprehensive overview to help you understand what constitutes such acts, the potential consequences, and the steps you can take if accused.

Our experienced sex crime defense attorneys can guide you through the legal process. Call Wallin & Klarich today toll-free at (877) 466-5245 for your free consultation with our experienced attorneys. We will be there when you call.

What are Lewd or Lascivious Acts?

Lewd or Lascivious Acts Defined (California Penal Code Section 288) 

In California, lewd or lascivious acts with a minor typically involve any action that is indecent or of a sexual nature, committed with or directed toward a child under the age of 14. According to California Penal Code Section 288, these acts are intended to arouse, appeal to, or gratify the sexual desires of the perpetrator or the child.

California Penal Code Section 288 is designed to protect minors and dependent individuals from sexual exploitation and harm. It covers a range of offenses, all involving lewd or lascivious acts committed upon minors or vulnerable persons. Here’s a detailed explanation of each subsection:

Subsection (a)

Subsection (a) is aimed at anyone who engages in lewd or lascivious acts with children under 14 years old with the intent of sexual arousal or gratification. These acts can involve any part of the child’s body, and intent is a critical element of this charge. Convictions under this subsection can lead to imprisonment for three, six, or eight years, highlighting the severity with which the law views such offenses.

Subsection (b)

This subsection addresses situations where the act is committed using force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury. Such aggravated circumstances lead to enhanced penalties, with prison sentences ranging from five to ten years. This emphasizes the additional gravity the law places on coercive or violent acts.

Subsection (c)

Subsection (c) expands the scope to include acts committed upon children aged 14 or 15 by individuals who are at least ten years older than the victim. This reflects an understanding that older individuals hold significant influence or authority over younger teens, and thus, the law enforces imprisonment terms of one to three years in the state prison or up to one year in a county jail.

Subsection (d)

Finally, subsection (d) deals with acts committed by caretakers upon dependent individuals who are severely disabled or under the age of 18. This subsection seeks to protect those who are particularly vulnerable due to their reliance on caretakers. Convictions under this subsection can result in imprisonment for five, eight, or ten years, underlining the trust and responsibility caretakers have towards their dependents.

Understanding the specifics of each subsection helps in recognizing the different layers of protection the law provides to minors and vulnerable individuals. These detailed provisions allow for more tailored defense strategies, aiding in the effective challenge of prosecution’s evidence and interpretation of the accused’s actions.

Legal Components You Need to Know

Elements of the Crime 

To secure a conviction, the prosecution must prove several elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The act was committed willfully.
  2. The victim was under the age of 14.
  3. The action was lewd or lascivious.
  4. There was intent to arouse, appeal to, or gratify sexual desires.

Intent is Key 

One of the most challenging aspects for the prosecution is proving intent. However, this is also a critical point where a skilled defense attorney can make a significant impact.

Age of the Victim 

Another crucial factor is the age of the victim. Charges and penalties differ significantly depending on whether the victim is under 14 or between 14 and 15 years old.

Severity of Molestation Charges and Their Consequences

Types of Charges 

Molestation charges can range from felonies to misdemeanors. The prosecutor will make the “filing decision” based upon many factors including the severity of the crime, the age of the victim, the nature of the act and whether force or fear was used in the commission of the sexual act.

Potential Penalties 

Penalties can be harsh and may include:

  • Prison Time: Felony charges can result in several years to life imprisonment.
  • Fines: Convictions can carry substantial financial penalties.
  • Sex Offender Registry: Convicted individuals are almost always required to register as a sex offenders. When this happens it can have a  significant impact on the accused person’s personal and professional lives.

Long-Term Impact 

Beyond legal penalties, a conviction can lead to long-lasting repercussions such as difficulty finding employment, housing, and societal stigma.

Defense Strategies and Legal Options

Challenging the Evidence 

A robust defense often involves challenging the evidence presented by the prosecution. This can include questioning the credibility of witnesses, the validity of physical evidence, and the interpretation of the defendant’s actions.

Proving Lack of Intent 

Since intent is a crucial element, demonstrating a lack of intent to commit a lewd or lascivious act can be an effective strategy. Evidence showing the accused had no sexual motive can be compelling.

Mistaken Identity 

In some cases, mistaken identity can be a valid defense. This is particularly relevant when accusations are based on the testimony of young children, who may be more prone to misidentification. 

Motive to Lie  

Probably the most important part of a defense when a child molestation charge is made is being able to answer the question “why would the alleged victim make up such a serious charge?”.

The more evidence our law firm is able to show as to why the alleged victim would not be telling the truth the higher the likelihood of a positive result in your case.

Prior Acts of Dishonesty 

It is very important to explore whether the alleged victim has a history of making up false allegations against any person. In addition we must explore if the alleged victim has a penchant for being dishonest. A dishonest person is more likely to lie about a serious sex crime allegation than someone who has no history of being dishonest. 

Coaching Someone to Lie 

In many cases the alleged victim is being coached to make up false allegations of child molestation. This can be because there is a child custody dispute going on between the parents of the alleged victim. One parent may believe by having their child make up false allegations that the “accused parent” will not be awarded custody of the child.

Financial Motivation 

In addition in other cases the alleged victim is making up the allegation of sexual misconduct for financial reasons.

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today

If you are facing a lewd or lascivious charge or a child molestation charge you need an aggressive defense attorney to fight for your freedom. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have represented hundreds of clients fighting child molestation charges. We know how to defend you in order to obtain the best result in your case. If your matter must go to a jury trial we are ready to fight for your innocence. We know the most effective defenses to argue on your behalf and will be there for you every step of the way.

You may not be aware of all your options. Calling our office costs you nothing, but picking up the phone could be the difference between years in prison and total exoneration. Let our skilled attorneys examine your case to find the best way to help you in your time of need. We have offices in Irvine, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Torrance, Victorville and Anaheim.

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney. We will be there when you call.

Confidential Consult
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

SCHEDULE YOUR free consultation

If you or a loved one have been accused of a sex crime, this is the time to contact us.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.