In California, it is not only illegal to engage in a sex act with a minor, but even to attempt to meet with one for the purpose of sex. In fact, the other person need not even be a minor for you to be charged with this crime. Because the laws concerning sexual acts with a juvenile are so complex, it is critical you speak with a Vista child molestation defense lawyer as soon as possible if you have been accused of any crime related to having sexual relations with someone under 18In California, it is not only illegal to engage in a sex act with a minor, but even to attempt to meet with one for the purpose of sex. In fact, under California Penal Code section 288.4 (PC), the other person need not even be a minor for you to be charged with this crime. Because the laws concerning sexual acts with a juvenile are so complex, it is critical you speak with a lawyer as soon as possible if you have been accused of any crime related to having sexual relations with someone under 18.
Better Understanding 288.4 (PC)
First, it’s important to recognize that thanks to 288.4 (PC), you need not even touch a minor to be charged with a sex crime. Arranging to meet with a minor when your actions are “motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in children,” for the purpose of “exposing your pubic or rectal area, having the child expose his or her genitals or rectal area, or engaging in lewd or lascivious behavior” is a crime.
Additionally, the person you made the arrangements with doesn’t even need to be under 18 under this law. If you believe the person to be a minor, you can still be charged and found guilty of soliciting sex with a minor. This is why so many people charged with 288.4 (PC) are caught in sting operations where law enforcement officers pretend to be juveniles so they can catch people attempting to arrange to meet a minor for lewd purposes.
Anyone Accused of this Crime Needs a San Diego Lawyer Immediately
With so many aspects of the law relating to your intentions and beliefs, it’s easy to see why you should insist on speaking with an attorney with experience defending those accused of California sex offenses, particularly those involving lewd acts against a minor or a person under 18, before you discuss the crime with the police. Remember, anything you say to the police can be used against you.
Most cases involving accusations related to attempting to arrange a meeting for the purposes of sex with a minor occur online, so it is important your sex crimes lawyer also has experience handling computer crimes defense as well so he or she can protect you against illegal search and seizure of your property, including electronic devices. Your attorney should also understand the ins and outs of entrapment laws since many people charged with this crime are victims of police sting operations.
Penalties for Violations of 288.4 (PC)
While arranging to meet with a minor for a lewd or lascivious purpose is sometimes charged as a misdemeanor under 288.4(a) (PC), punishable by up to one year in county jail, it is still a sex crime that can result in your being required to register as a sex offender for at least 10 years.
If you actually arrived at the meeting place, then the you will face charges related to 288.4(b) (PC). This crime is always charged as a felony and you will face an additional two to four years in state prison. Arrival at the meeting place will also get you charged with attempted child molestation if you thought the minor was under 14 or if you thought they were 15 or under and you are at least 10 years older. If you solicited a minor prostitute for sex, you will face an additional $25,000 fine. Those charged with these charges will still be subject to sex offender registration, but will be placed on a higher tier, meaning they will need to register for at least 20 years.
With such serious consequences at play, it is easy to see why you anyone accused of 288.4 (PC) or any other crime related to sexual interactions with a minor should always contact a defense attorney immediately. With over 35 years of experience, Peter M. Liss has a proven track record of helping people fight these types of charges and he can help you too. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free consultation.