California Lewd Acts With a Minor Defense Attorney
Children are an extremely vulnerable population. Their trusting and naive natures mean adults can easily manipulate them, and their size enables others to quickly overcome them. Due to these factors, some adults are consistently on the lookout for anyone who could be a threat to children. Some parents, teachers, and other authorities are hyper-vigilant, looking for signs of misconduct where there are none. This can lead to unnecessary fear and false accusations of child molestation.
When you rub someone the wrong way in regard to your conduct with a minor, you could find yourself being questioned by the police. If a situation gets out of hand, you could even find yourself charged with a crime, such as lewd acts with a minor. By this point, you need to call an experienced sex crime lawyer from Silver Law Firm at (510) 995-0000. We will review your situation and advise you on your defense options.
Understanding What Defines the Crime of Lewd Acts with a Child
The crime of lewd acts with a minor is outlined in California Penal Code (PC) §288, within the chapter prohibiting bigamy, incest, and crimes against nature. The first subsection of this statute makes it illegal for you to willfully commit any lewd or lascivious acts (including any actions that constitute other crimes) upon or with the body of a child under the age of 14, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the sexual desires of yourself or the child.
Examples of lewd acts with a minor include:
- Touching a child’s genitals or anus over clothing or on bare skin
- Fondling a young girl’s breasts over or under clothing
- Kissing a child on the lips or body
- Oral copulation with a minor
- Forcing a child to undress or watch you undress
Prosecutors will charge you with a felony if there is evidence that you intentionally acted in a crude or offensive manner toward a child with any type of sexual motivation. For you to be found guilty, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- Acted intentionally
- Committed a crude or offensive sexual act
- Committed the act upon a minor who is 13 years or younger
- Intended to arouse yourself or the minor or gratify your or the child’s sexual desires
By working with an experienced attorney, you can mount substantive defenses against one or more of these elements as part of your overall defense strategy. However, if convicted under subsection (a), you can be imprisoned for three, six, or eight years and fined up to $10,000.
Using Force to Commit Lewd Acts With a Minor Can Lead to a Longer Punishment
Subsection (b) of PC 288 states that if you use any type of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate physical harm against the child in order to commit any sexually-motivated lewd act with that child, then you can be found guilty of a felony and imprisoned for five, eight, or 10 years, and fined up to $10,000.
This offense includes actions such as:
- Restraining a child who struggles against your touch
- Hitting a child to incapacitate them or make them stop struggling
- Forcing a child to submit to your actions by threatening them or their parents with harm
It is Also a Crime to Commit Lewd Acts on a 14 or 15 Year Old
The law also prohibits you from intentionally committing sexual acts upon or with a minor who is 14 or 15 years old. If you are at least 10 years older than the minor, measured from the date of the child’s birth to your date of birth, then you will be charged with committing lewd acts with a minor.
According to subsection (c) of PC §288, this is a wobbler, punished as either a misdemeanor or felony. As a misdemeanor, you face up to one year in county jail. As a felony, you can be imprisoned for one, two, or three years.
If someone accuses you of an offensive or crude sexual act with a teenager, speak with an attorney as soon as possible. As a wobbler, you have the chance of minimizing the consequences of being convicted. Your attorney can fight for your acquittal in court while pushing for you to receive a misdemeanor punishment if convicted.
It is Illegal for Caretakers to Commit Lewd Acts Upon Dependent Individuals
This statute protects dependent persons of any age in addition to children. For instance, if you are a caretaker of a dependent person and are convicted, then as a wobbler, you can be punished with up to one year in county jail or one, two, or three years in prison. If you commit the lewd acts upon a dependent person using force, violence, or threats against that dependent person, then you will face a felony charge, punishable by imprisonment for five, eight, or 10 years.
Under this law, you are considered a caretaker if you are an owner, operator, employee, administrator, independent contractor, or volunteer at any private or public facility that provides care to elderly or dependent adults. This includes 24-hour care facilities, clinics, nursing homes, adult day health care centers, secondary schools, sheltered workshops, camps, foster homes, and more.
An individual is a dependent person if they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially restricts their ability carry out normal activities or protect their rights.
For example, lewd acts could be committed by:
- A nurse at a hospital against a patient
- A nursing assistant at an elderly care facility against a resident
- A foster parent toward a child placed in their care
If Convicted of Lewd Acts With a Minor, You Must Register as Sex offender
If you are convicted of violating PC §288(b) or PC §288(c), then you will be required to register as a sex offender in California. These are considered Tier 3 offenses, and you must register for the rest of your life. If you are convicted of PC §288(a), a Tier 2 offense, you must register for at least 20 years.
Registering as a sex offender means your picture, personal information, and the offense you were convicted of will be publically available online. It creates a significant amount of stigma, making it difficult to maintain a job, go to school, and meet new people.
You always want to avoid sex offender registration. This means working with an attorney from the very beginning.
Penal Code 288a Statute of Limitations
Like all crimes, there is a time limit on when cases involving sex acts with minors can be filed. For misdemeanor offenses under California PC 288(a), you have to be charged within a year of the alleged incident. If you’re facing felony charges, this statute of limitations extends to the alleged victim’s 28th birthday.
A Lawyer Will Mount a Strong Defense on Your Behalf
If you have been accused of child molestation, you should speak with an experienced and aggressive lewd acts with a minor defense attorney at Silver Law Firm. There could be one or multiple defenses appropriate for your circumstances, including that you did not act willfully or your conduct with the child had no sexual conduct or motivation. We will aim to prove that the allegations are entirely false and that there is no evidence to support the charges.
For a more in-depth discussion of your rights and legal options when charged with a child sex crime, contact Silver Law Firm at (510) 995-0000 and schedule a consultation.