All sex crime charges in California are serious and carry severe penalties. California Penal Code section 288 (a) covers sex crimes with a minor under the age of 14. This law exists to protect those that cannot protect themselves and it is a necessary and important law. Unfortunately, it is also a very broad law and it often leads to convictions of individuals who had no intent of doing harm or whose actions may have been misunderstood. Understanding this important law is extremely critical, especially for those who work with and around children.
California Penal Code section 288 (a) states: “Any person who willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act… upon or with the body, or any part or member thereof, of a child who is under the age of 14 years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person or the child, is guilty of a felony.” This is a felony punishable with up to eight years in prison for each count.
This law defines acts as lewd or lascivious when the intent is to arouse the desires of either party. There does not need to be bare skin touching to be considered lewd. There does not have to be actual arousal either. There only has to be the intent for arousal. A child under 14 cannot legally give consent. Not knowing the age of the minor is not a defense.
A majority of such sex crime allegations come directly from the young victims. Or from others who hear something and then tell others. And some false allegations are made by spouses in anticipation of a divorce or while in a pending custody battle. To defend these cases, a sex crime defense lawyer will have to determine if there is any motive for a false allegation. Reviewing medical records, interviewing all pertinent parties and examining all possible motives will be necessary to produce a successful outcome in your particular situation.
If you have been accused of being involved in lewd acts with a minor, you would be well-advised to contact the experienced and skilled Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange County sex crime defense lawyers at Sitkoff & Hanrahan. For decades, we have represented those who have been falsely accused of sex crimes in California. Call us at (866)-430-8383 to discuss your case today.