Penal Code Section 288 – Lewd Acts Against A Child / Child Molestation
Penal Code Section 288 punishes, among other crimes, the crime of touching a minor under the age of 14 for sexual purposes. Section 288 also punishes touching a minor of 14 or 15 years old, when the person is at least 10 years older than the child. The touching can occur anywhere on the minor’s body. These offenses are sometimes referred to as “child molestation” or “lewd acts” against a child.
Penal Code 288 charges may be the most commonly charged sex offense. These charges often involve family members or other situations in which the defendant and the alleged victim know each other. It is highly common for the Department of Child and Family Services to become involved in these cases.
These charges are extremely serious, and are punishable by up to 16 years in state prison depending upon the age of the minor (for example, older or younger than 14), the age of the defendant, if the victim was injured, and if there were ongoing or continuous sex acts.
A conviction under Penal Code 288 may be a “strike” under California’s three strikes law, and anyone convicted under this section will be required to register as a lifetime sex offender under Penal code 290.
Related Charges and Offenses
What the Prosecutor Must Prove to Convict a Person under Penal Code 288
In order to convict a defendant of lewd acts against a child, a prosecutor must prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- Defendant willfully — meaning purposefully — touched any part of a child’s body or willfully caused a child to touch his/her own body, the defendant’s body, or another person’s body, AND
- Defendant did this with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passion, or sexual desires of himself or of the child.
Defenses to Penal Code 288 Charges
While every charge under Penal Code 288 must be evaluated on its own facts, successful defenses in “child molest” cases may include the following defenses:
- The alleged victim is lying. The number of cases in which alleged victims fabricate stories of child abuse is shocking.
- “Blame shifting” — this occurs when the child victim is abused by a person other than the defendant, but blames the defendant for the abuse.
- “Victim Manipulation” — this occurs when an adult manipulates a child to lie about or exaggerate sexual abuse allegations, typically to benefit the adult against the accused. For example, in a child custody battle.
- Accidental contact
Contact Us Now
Schwartz & Naderi’s team of criminal defense attorneys has over 80 years of combined experience aggressively defending clients facing all types of sex-related charges, including child molestation charges, and will strategize a vigorous defense from the moment of arrest until the completion of the case.
If you or a loved one has been charged with any sex offense, contact a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney from Schwartz & Naderi today at (310) 246-9550.