In cases involving accused child molestation, the prosecuting attorney in the case has two major options to bring charges against the defendant.
If the prosecutor believes that the defendant had illicit contact with a minor over an extended period of time, but witness testimony might not be able to corroborate every individual instance of that contact, the state can charge the defendant for “Continuous sexual abuse of a child” under California Penal Code 288.5 PC.
However, in some cases, when the defendant might have only had one or a few instances of illicit contact with a minor or if the state has enough evidence that they feel confident proving each instance of illicit contact in court, they can charge the defendant with “Lewd acts with a minor.”
The state of California takes crimes against children very seriously, so as you might imagine, lewd acts with a minor carries steep penalties. It is a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in state prison, mandatory lifetime registration as a sex offender and one strike under California’s “three strikes” law.
If you or someone you love has been accused of lewd acts with a minor, your first call should be to a skilled sex crimes attorney. They will review your case and help you understand the charges against you.
What is ‘Lewd acts with a minor?’
If the prosecution feels it has enough evidence to charge the defendant for each incidence of illicit contact with a minor, the defendant will most likely be charged with lewd acts with a minor.
Under Penal Code 288 PC, lewd acts with a minor is defined as:
- For the purpose of sexual gratification, touching a child under the age of 16 on any part of its body. This means that even if the touch was below the garments or not on a genital area, someone may be convicted for “Lewd acts.”
- On the adult’s urging, a child under 16 has his or her hands on someone else’s genitals for the sake of the adult’s sexual gratification.
While this law applies to any child under 16, it is most commonly applied in cases where the minor is 14 or younger.
Penalties for ‘Lewd acts with a minor’
In California, lewd acts with a minor is always considered a felony, and the penalty is determined by a variety of criteria in the case.
- The defendant’s age
- The child’s age
- If “force, fraud, threats or duress” were used
- If there was a history of abuse
In cases where no force is used, penalties include:
- Three, six or eight years in state prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
When force is used, penalties rise to:
- Five, eight or ten years in state prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
In addition to this, a conviction for lewd acts with a minor will add a strike to your record under California’s “three strikes” law. You will also be required to register as a tier-three lifetime sex offender on the California Sex Offender Registry.
Defenses against ‘Lewd acts with a minor’ charges
If you’ve been accused of a lewd acts with a minor, it’s important to get in touch with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A good defense attorney can help protect your rights and represent you in court. They can also advise you on the best way to approach your case.
There are many potential defenses against charges under 288 PC, depending on the evidence in your case. Your attorney will review the facts of your case with you and work with you to build your defense.
Attorney Robert M. Helfend is a criminal defense lawyer who represents people accused of crimes in Los Angeles County, California. Mr. Helfend has been practicing law for more than 35 years and has represented thousands of clients, including those accused of lewd acts with a minor. Call today for your free case evaluation – 800-834-6434.