Criminal Defense Attorneys Representing Individuals Accused of Committing Lewd Acts on a Minor Under 14 Years Old.
Lewd acts with a child is covered under California Penal Code Section 288. It's a criminal offense to touch a child's body for a sexual purpose. This sexual related crime is commonly known as lewd acts on a minor under 14 years old, or lewd and lascivious conduct with a child. To commit this type of sex crime, you must touch a child under 14 with the specific purpose of arousing yourself or the child.
The touching does not have to be on a specific body part of either yourself of the child. The touching could even been through clothing or could even be in the form giving instruction to the child to touch themselves.
It's important to note that touching sexual organs is NOT required. In fact, it is not required to directly touch skin to be charged with lewd acts on a minor. Consent of the minor is not a valid legal defense. Neither is a mistake of the minor's age. It should be noted that Penal Code 288 is closely related to statutory rape laws under Penal Code 261.5.
This means that just rubbing against a child who is fully clothed, or under a blanket, is sufficient for a criminal conviction under Penal Code Section 288. Typically, if the prosecutor believes they can prove that the reason for touching the child was sexual in nature, you can expect them to aggressively pursue charges. However, the prosecutor would have to prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, the touching was for the purpose of sexual gratification. It is not necessary to prove that sexual gratification was actually achieved. See related: Oral Copulation with a Minor.
If you have been accused of lewd acts with minor, you need to immediately contact a Los Angeles sex crime attorney at our law firm. If you are contacted by a Los Angeles police detective, politely decline to make any statements without first consulting with a lawyer.
Exercise your legal right to remain silent. Any statements you make to police may incriminate yourself. You must understand that police detectives are highly paid to build a criminal case and make arrest. That's what they do, especially in sexual related allegations against children. Don't help them convict you. Let's examine the legal definition of lewd acts on a minor below.
California Penal Code Section 288 – Lewd Acts with a Minor
Under California Penal Code Section 288, the legal definition of lewd acts with a minor consists of specific elements of the crime. This means the Los Angeles County prosecutor must prove that:
- You willfully touched a child's body, or willfully caused the child to touch their body, or another person's body
- The touching was done for the specific intent to arouse, gratify lust, or sexual desire of yourself or the child
Legally, “willfully” means your committed the act deliberately on purpose. It makes no difference if you had any intent to commit an offense or harm another individual. Touching a child's body part, or having the child touch themselves or another person, means through any type of clothing or their bare skin.
Again, it's critical to note that with regards to specifically intending to arouse a sexual desire, the prosecutor does not have to prove that you or the children were actually sexually aroused. They only to prove your intended to satisfy a sexual desire. If these above elements of the crime can be proven, it's sufficient for a conviction for lewd acts on a child.
Call a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at our office for more detailed information. See related: Meeting Minors for Lewd Purposes in Los Angeles and Contacting a Minor to Commit a Felony under California Penal Code 288.3. California Penal Code Section 288(b)(2) defines the crime of lewd acts by a caretaker upon a dependent adult. California Penal Code 220 defines the crime of assault with intent to commit a felony.
Legal Penalties for Lewd Acts with a Minor
A lewd act with a minor is “wobbler,” meaning it can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony sexual related offense. Legal penalties will depend on the age of the child at the time of the offense. If the victim was under 14 years old, it's a felony offense and the penalties can include up to one year in a Los Angeles County jail and probation, or up to eight years in a California state prison.
If any force or threats were used on the child, the penalties will increase substantially. If you have a prior sexual related conviction, you could possibly face prosecution under California's habitual sexual offender law and face up to 25 years in state prison. Furthermore, if the child was under 14 years old, a conviction would qualify as a strike under California's Three Strike Law. A conviction would also require lifetime sex offender registration.
This is a national database that can be assessed by anyone and would require registering your current home address with the police department.
If the victim was 14 or 15 at the time of the offense, and you were at least 10 years older than the child, then it can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony crime. Typically, prosecutors will make a decision based on the specific facts of the offense and your prior criminal history.
If convicted of a felony case, the legal penalties can include up to one year in a Los Angeles County jail and probation, or up to three years in a California state prison. A misdemeanor conviction would include up to one year in county jail and probation. Call a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at our office to discuss potential legal penalties for your case.
Legal Defenses against Lewd Acts with a Minor
It's not uncommon for someone to get falsely accused of committing lewd acts on a child. Just an allegation that you may have been involved in a sex crime against a child can ruin your reputation and career. When a child accuses someone of a lewd act, police and Los Angeles County prosecutors will aggressively pursue the case. While children should always be protected against predators, just an accusation will typically generate anger and an immediate focus on building a criminal case to obtain a conviction.
An experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can utilize a variety of legal defenses against charges of lewd acts with a minor. Every case has its own set of unique circumstances. A skilled defense attorney at our law firm will thoroughly review all the details in order to build an effective defense strategy. These defense tactics include:
- Challenging the accuser's credibility – In cases where there is no physical evidence, the case often depends on just the word of the alleged victim. It may be possible to prove the accuser has a motive to harm you or they might have a history of false allegations.
- Accidental touching – In order to obtain a conviction for lewd acts on a minor, the prosecutor has to prove you willfully touched or willfully caused the minor to touch you. It may be possible to prove that the touching that was considered a lewd act was actually an accident.
- No intent to arouse or gratify – One of the elements of the crimes the prosecutor has to prove to obtain a conviction is that the touching was specifically intended to sexually arouse or gratify yourself. Our criminal defense attorneys may be able to show the touching in question was not sexual related.
Track Record of Success Defending Sex Crimes
Our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm has a history of success defending our clients against sexual related charges. In one case in San Fernando Superior Court, our client confessed to Los Angeles police detectives he molested his girlfriend's daughter.
Our criminal lawyers provided psychiatric evaluations and other exculpatory evidence to the prosecutor. After exhaustive negotiations, our client accepted a plea bargain for the lowest prison term possible. All the criminal charges that could have resulted in a life sentence were dismissed.
In another case in Los Angeles Superior Court, our client faced charges of statutory rape after a sexual relationship with a minor. Our criminal attorneys thoroughly reviewed all the evidence and client's background. After extensive negotiations with the Los Angeles County prosecutor, the sex crime allegations were dismissed. Our client was only required to perform community service. No jail time.
Call a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are under investigation or already charged with lewd acts on a child, do not speak to anyone about the case. Anything statements you make will most likely be used against you. Your future and freedom are at stake. A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Eisner Gorin LLP are former prosecutors are well understand the criminal process is sex crime cases.
Let our top-rated criminal defense law firm review the details of your case and discuss strategy. Contact our lawyers at 877-781-1570.