Lewd Acts with a Child/Child Molestation (PC 288):
Child Molestation is a serious charge that carries serious legal and social consequences. An accusation of this nature can ruin an innocent person’s life. While there are many types of child molestation, almost any conviction will result in having to register as a sex offender for life. The charge under Penal Code 288 PC makes it illegal to touch a child under the age of 14 with sexual intent. Even “touching” a child through clothing is a crime under this section. According to the law, a child under 14 cannot consent, therefore making a consensual defense in implausible under this section.
When these acts are committed against a child 16 or 17 years old, it is no longer considered child molestation; it will be prosecuted as statutory rape or sexual battery. However, both charges require the accused to be subject to the lifetime sex offender registration.
Penalties (PC 288):
Perhaps the most severe consequence of being convicted under this statute is that a PC 288 conviction triggers a lifetime duty to register as a sex offender. Any conviction under PC 288 will result in this mandatory requirement.
If convicted of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14, the offense is considered a felony with a sentence of 3 to 8 years in a California State Prison. If any force was used on the child involved, you could face anywhere between 5 to 10 years in a California State Prison. When the act(s) are committed against a child age 14 or 15, and the accused is at least 10 years older than the child, then you could face anywhere from 1 to 3 years in county jail.
Legal Defenses (PC 288):
Common defenses to a PC 288 charge include (but are not limited to): the accuser is mistaken or fabricated the truth, the contact was accidental, and that were was no intent to cause sexual arousal. We have also found in some cases there is a third party involved, in which the third party “coaches” the child into making a false allegation of sexual conduct.