Lewd Acts with a Minor Causing Harm – Penal Code 288(i) PC
What is the crime of lewd acts with a minor causing them bodily harm? This severe felony offense typically involves someone touching and inflicting harm on a child under 14 for sexual gratification purposes or making them feel themselves or someone else for a sexual purpose.
California Penal Code 288(i) PC describes this felony as when a person commits lewd acts on a minor under 14 years old to inflict bodily harm in the commission of the offense. A conviction could result in a sentence of life in state prison with the possibility of parole.
To be charged under this statute, the minor victim must be physically harmed during the incident, such as when somebody aggressively hits an 11-year-old girl in the face while grabbing her intimate body parts.
The primary law for lewd acts with a minor is defined under Penal Code 288 PC. Lewd and lascivious acts mean touching a child under 14 for sexual purposes willfully. The act must be on purpose rather than accidental touching.
Further, the touching has to be done with the intent to arouse or gratify the lust of the perpetrator, the minor child, or another person.
The “bodily harm” required under this law for a conviction of lewd acts with minor causing harm has to be a significant injury directly related to the alleged lewd acts. Our California criminal defense attorneys will look at this law below.
What are the Related California Sex Crimes?
Numerous offenses are related to lewd acts with minor causing harm, including lewd acts with a minor child without force, lewd acts with a minor with force, lewd acts with force by a caretaker, and statutory rape. Let's discuss these and some others below.
Penal Code 288(a) PC lewd acts with a minor without force involve willfully committing an indecent act with a minor under 14 for the sexual gratification of the perpetrator or the child. It's a felony carrying up to three, six, or eight years in state prison upon conviction and sex offender registration for 20 years.
Penal Code 288(b)(1) PC lewd acts with a minor using force involve willfully committing an indecent act with a minor under 14 for sexual gratification and using force or violence during the crime. This felony offense could result in five, eight, or ten years in a California state prison and lifetime sex offender registration.
Penal Code 288(b)(2) PC lewd acts with force by a caretaker occurs when a caretaker of a dependent or impaired person commits a lewd act on them. This is also a felony crime that could result in five, eight, or ten years in state prison after a conviction and lifetime sex offender registration.
Penal Code 287 PC oral copulation with a minor occurs when any oral copulation is accomplished using force, violence, duress, menace, or fear. You could face up to eight years in state prison if convicted.
Penal Code 261.5 PC statutory rape occurs if you engage in sexual intercourse with someone under 18 years old, even if it is consensual. In California, a minor can't give consent to sexual activity. This offense is a wobbler that can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony.
What are the Legal Penalties If Convicted?
If you are convicted of 288i PC lewd acts with a minor causing injury, you could face the following punishments:
- Life in prison with the possibility of parole,
- Mandatory requirement to register as a sex offender,
- felony on your criminal record,
Further, a judge could impose probation if they deem it appropriate. Anyone convicted of this charge also must register as a sex offender for life. Felony convictions in California can't be expunged.
What Are the Legal Defenses for This Crime?
Numerous legal defenses can be used against charges of lewd acts with minor causing harm, which are discussed below.
Touching was accidental. Recall that this law requires a willful touching or lewd act. The prosecution has to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the touching or lewd act was on purpose and not an accident.
False accusation. Perhaps we can show that the allegations are false and made by someone with a motive to lie. Maybe the child was coached by an adult motivated by jealousy or anger over a bad breakup. Perhaps we could uncover evidence proving the allegations are false or overly exaggerated.
No injuries. Recall that the law requires evidence of a significant injury, which is one of the primary elements of the crime.
Coerced confession. If you confessed to police that you committed lewd acts with a minor child, then maybe we can argue that overaggressive police detectives used coercive techniques to get you to confess.
If we can show law enforcement coerced you into confessing to a crime you did not commit, then the judge has the discretion to exclude the confession being used against you. They could also dismiss the case. Perhaps there were Constitutional violations by police which can lead to the suppression of any evidence.
If you were charged with Penal Code 288(i) lewd act with a minor causing bodily harm, you might have the option to negotiate with the prosecutor for lesser charges or even a case dismissal.
Through prefiling negotiations with law enforcement and the District Attorney's Office, we might be able to convince them to file formal criminal charges before the first court date, called a “DA reject.”
Eisner Gorin LLP is located in Los Angeles, California. We provide legal representation for people across Southern California. You can contact our law firm for a case review by phone or use the contact form.