The crime of lewd and lascivious act upon a minor aged 14 or 15 years is found at California penal code section 288(c)(1). The following is a brief overview of the law, the penalties, and the common defenses related to PC 288(c)(1). For further information, contact our sex crimes criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation.
PC 288(c)(1) Law
A person who commits a lewd and lascivious act, with the intent to arouse the sexual lust or sexual gratification of either the victim, or the defendant, and where the victim is aged either fourteen (14) or fifteen (15) years of age, and the defendant is at least ten (10) years older than the victim, is guilty of PC 288(c)(1) [PC288(c)(1) Paraphrased].
Note: In determining whether the defendant is at least 10 years older than the child, the difference in age shall be measured from the birth date of the defendant to the birth date of the child.
Lewd & Lascivious Act: In short, a lewd and lascivious act is the offensive or indecent sexual touching of a child, with the intent to sexually arouse the child, or sexually arouse the defendant when the touching is committed. PC 288(c)(1) is complete when the sexual touching occurs. It does not matter if the defendant or the child is, in fact, sexually aroused, so long at the requisite intent is present at the time of the touching.
PC 288(c)(1) Penalties
Lewd and lascivious act upon a minor aged 14 or 15 is classified as a “wobbler” crime in California. A “wobbler” crime is any crime that may be charged as either a felony, or alternatively as a felony. Whether the defendant charged with a felony or misdemeanor lewd acts case depends on the circumstances of the case, the harm caused to the victims, the presence of any plea bargain terms, if any, the defendant’s criminal history, and more. For more information, see Wobbler Crimes.
Felony PC 288(c)(1) Prison Sentence: If found guilty of felony lewd act on a minor 14 or 15, the defendant may face up to 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in prison. Whether the defendant receives a 16 month, 2 year, or 3 year prison sentence depends on the facts of the case, the defendant’s criminal history, the terms of any plea agreement, the presence of any mitigating or aggravating facts in the case, and more.
Misdemeanor PC 288(c)(1) Jail Sentence: If found guilty of misdemeanor lewd act on a minor 14 or 15, the defendant may face up to year in the county jail.
Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a period supervision as opposed to a prison or jail sentence. A probation sentence is allowed in both felony and misdemeanor PC 288(c)(1) cases, but a probation sentence is not guaranteed. Also, a probation sentence in felony cases is only allowed in “special” cases where the interest of justice is best served by granting a probation sentence to the defendant.
A probation sentence, if granted, carries “terms of probation” that must be fulfilled to remain on probation. A violation of the terms can lead to incarceration as if the defendant was not granted probation in the first instance.
Probation terms for lewd acts cases usually include criminal protective orders (restraining orders against the defendant in favor of the victim), payment of fines and fees, probation monitoring fees (for felony convictions), and usually some work release or house arrest commitment.
Suspended Prison Sentence: If found guilty of felony lewd act upon a minor aged 14 or 15, the defendant may not have his or her prison sentence suspended (not served upon conditions of release), or split (served partially in prison and partially out of prison on work release).
This means a defendant convicted of felony PC 288(c)(1) must serve all of his or her prison sentence in a California state prison, as opposed to a county jail, and no part of that prison sentence may be served out of prison.
Sex Offender Registration: If the defendant is found guilty of PC 288(c)(1), he or she will be required to register as a sex offender with local law enforcement. The length of registration period is ordinarily twenty (20) years for felony convictions of PC 288(c)(1)-F. and ten (10) years for misdemeanor convictions for PC 288(c)(1)-M. For other requirements, see PC 290 Registration.
Crime Involving Moral Turpitude: Lewd and lascivious acts upon a 14 or 15 year are considered crimes involving moral turpitude. A crime involving moral turpitude, or CIMT, is any crime that involves deceit or otherwise involves morally wrong behavior.
A CIMT, including penal code 288(c)(1) crimes, carry collateral penalties for non-US citizens (deportation, denial of citizenship, and more), professional licensing (i.e., doctors, dentist, lawyers, teachers, nurses, etc.), and persons who want to, or are actively serving in the US armed forces (Navy, Army, Air Force, Space Force, Marines, Merchant Marines, and Coast Guard). For more information, see Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude.
Additional Penalties: Other penalties associated with PC 288(c)(1) convictions include, but are not limited to, court fees and fines, restitution orders, criminal protective orders, civil lawsuits, enhanced penalties for future criminal conduct, loss of school scholarships, and more.
PC 288(c)(1) Defenses
Common defenses to PC 288(c)(1) crimes include insufficient evidence to prove sexual intent during touching, coerced confessions, illegal search and seizure, reasonable mistake as to the victim’s age, severe intoxication, insanity, false allegations, and more.
Note: Consent to touching is not a defense in penal code 288(c)(1) cases because a child aged 14 or 15 is legally incapable of consenting to sexual touching.
PC 17(b) Reclassification: A defendant may request that a felony PC 288(c)(1) be reclassified as a misdemeanor PC 288(c)(1) crime. This is usually done after the preliminary hearing in a felony case. A PC 17(b) motion, or request to reclassify a felony to a misdemeanor, is not a true defense in the sense that the defendant’s case is dismissed. However, the lower classification greatly reduced the possible penalties related to a felony conviction.
Whether a judge will grant a PC 17(b) motion depends on many factors, including the defendant’s criminal history, the facts of the case, the terms of any plea bargain between the defendant and the district attorney, and much more. For more information, see PC 17(b) Motion
Post-Conviction Relief: After conviction for PC 288(c)(1), a defendant might have several post-conviction options, including appeal the criminal conviction (if found guilty, not plead guilty), withdraw of a guilty plea, post-conviction PC 17(b) motion (see above), modification of probation terms, expungement of the criminal conviction, and more.
If you or a loved one is facing lewd and lascivious acts against a minor aged 14 or 15, or PC 288(c)(1) [aka Child molestation], contact our sex crimes criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation. Our criminal defense team has helped hundreds of defendants charged with sex crimes, including charges of PC 288(a), 288(b), 288(c), and more. Our lawyers are available every day of the week. In some cases, we can visit local county jails to assist with a consult for a small fee (West Valley Detention Center, Central Detention Center). Call today!