Internet Sex Crimes

California Penal Code Section 288.4

The Law

California Penal Code Section 288.4

California Penal Code Section 288.4 makes it a crime for a person who, motivated by sexual interest in minors, arranges a meeting with a minor or a person he believes is a minor in order to engage in sexual behavior. Punishment for this crime can carry up to three years in prison.

What Does This Mean?

Anybody who has ever seen the television show “Dateline: To Catch A Predator”, is familiar with the scenario this crime encompasses. A man is in an internet chat room and believes he is talking to someone under the age of 18. Eventually, the conversation turns sexual in nature and a rendezvous is set up. The perpetrator goes to the rendezvous and is arrested by waiting authorities. It turns out the perpetrator was not talking to a minor but instead was talking to an undercover police officer.

How To Defend This Crime

The key to defending this crime is to establish the accused had no sexual interest in minors. Because the substance of the internet chats are often preserved, there is no argument as to what the accused said. Therefore, it is important to find ambiguity in what was said and demonstrate that the accused was not motivated by a sexual interest in minors when he arrived at the meeting.

This is why it is imperative to have an attorney who is knowledgeable in the law and experienced in the courtroom. It is important to have an attorney who can discover and exploit the ambiguities in the language used by the accused. Once a jury sees that ambiguity and begins to doubt the defendant’s intent, a successful verdict is possible.

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