Sex crimes Against Minors

California Penal Code Sections 288, 288a, and 289

The Law

California Penal Code Sections 288, 288a, and 289

California Penal Code Sections 288, 288a, and 289 make it illegal for a person to commit a “lewd and lascivious” act upon a minor. If the minor is under the age of 16, the punishment is more severe. If the minor is under the age of 14, the punishment is even more severe. If force is used or the offender is the minor’s caretaker, punishment is also increased.

Depending upon the severity, these crimes carry punishment ranging from county jail time to maximums of 8 or 10 years in prison. If there are multiple victims, the offender can receive a sentence of life in prison.

A conviction of any of these crimes requires lifetime sex offender registration.

What Does This Mean?

Any touching of a minor may be prosecuted under these statutes if the prosecutor can prove the offender committed a touching with the intent to sexually arouse the offender or the person touched. The question then becomes: How do you prove intent?

Intent is easy to prove in the following factual situations:

  1. The perpetrator touches the minor with his penis.
  2. The perpetrator uses his mouth to touch a sexual organ of the minor.
  3. The perpetrator uses his fingers to touch or penetrate the minor’s sexual organ.

Intent is more difficult to prove in the following factual situations:

  1. The perpetrator brushes his hand against the outer clothing of the minor.
  2. The perpetrator has a legitimate reason to touch the minor such as a caretaker bathing a minor or applying medical aid.
  3. The perpetrator mistakenly or unintentionally rubs up against the minor.

How To Defend These Charges

The majority of sex crime charges are based solely upon the word of the minor. Many people will ask “Don’t they need pictures, video, DNA or something else?” No, people are convicted everyday based upon the testimony of one person.

The key to defending these charges is to attack the believability of the complaining witness. Many times the minor has a history of lying when they get in trouble. Or the complaining witnesses may be trying to cover up for their own bad acts by deflecting attention on the accused. Or the complaining witness may be seeking attention for any number of reasons.

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 reasons a complaining witness may lie. All it takes is for the jury to be given a reason to believe the witness is lying. Once the jury is given that reason, the falsely accused can expect a successful result.

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