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Penal Codes 288(a), 288(b)(1), & 288(c)(1)

Child Molestation Defense (Lewd Acts)

Information on the crime of lewd and lascivious act on a minor, commonly known as child molestation, is found at California penal code section 288. There are many child molestation crimes that fall under PC 288 and other penal code sections, but the three most commonly charged child molestation charges include:

More child molestation crimes and related maximum jail or prison sentences are listed at More PC 288 Crimes.

PC 288 Laws (Abbr.)

PC 288(a): Any person who willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act upon, or with the body, or any part or member thereof, of a child who is under the age of 14 years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person or the child, is guilty of a lewd or lascivious act against a child (PC 288(a)).

PC 288(b)(1): Any person who commits an act described in subdivision (a) by use of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or another person, is guilty of lewd and lascivious acts on a child with force (PC 288(b)(1).

Note: For PC 288(b)(1), the force used must be more force than is necessary to accomplish the act, otherwise the crime should be refiled under PC 288(a).

PC 288(c)(1):Any person who commits an act described in subdivision (a) with the intent described in that section, and the child is 14 or 15 years old, and that person is at least 10 years older than the child, is guilty of lewd and lascivious acts against a minor ages 14 or 15 (PC 288(c)(1)).

Note: For PC 288(c)(1), in determining whether the person is at least ten (10) years older than the child, the difference in age shall be measured from the birth date of the person to the birth date of the child (PC 288(c)(1).

A lewd and lascivious act means an inappropriate sexual touching. The touching can be either when the minor is touched by the defendant, or when the defendant is touched by the minor as directed or forced by the defendant. The touching does not have to be skin to skin contact. In fact, many child molestation charges involve allegations that the defendant touched a minor over the minor's clothes.

Touching a child, even in a child's private area, is not a lewd and lascivious act, unless the touching is made by the defendant with the specific intent to sexually arouse the defendant or the child. If the defendant's touching is for the purpose of sexual arousal, then the touching is a lewd and lascivious act no matter where touching occurs.

Examples of common non lewd and lascvious acts include: touching a child's sexual areas during potty training, spanking a child's buttocks for corporal punishment, accidentally touching a child's sexual areas, examination of a child's sexual areas by a doctor, etc.

Punishment for PC 288(a), 288(b)(1), & 288(c)(1)

PC 288(a) Sentence: Lewd and lascivious acts on a minor under fourteen (14) is charged as a felony. If found guilty of PC 288(a), the defendant may face up to eight (8) years in prison with good time behavior credit limited to fifteen percent (15%) off the defendant's prison sentence.

PC 288(b)(1) Sentence: Lewd and lascivious acts on a minor under fourteen (14) with force is charged as a felony. If found guilty of PC 288(b)(1), the defendant may face up to ten (10) years in prison for each count. Prison sentences run consecutively, not concurrently, for PC 288(b)(1) charges, and good time behavior credit is limited to fifteen percent (15%) off the defendant's prison sentence. 

PC 288(c)(1) Sentence: Lewd and lascivious acts on a minor fourteen (14) or fifteen (15) years old is charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. If found guilty of misdemeanor PC 288(c)(1), the defendant may face up to one (1) year in jail. If found guilty of felony 288(c)(1), the defendant may face up to three (3) years in prison. Good behavior credits for PC 288(c)(1) sentences are limited to fifty percent (50%) off the defendant's jail or prison sentence.

Sentencing Enhancements: A sex crime enhancement is a charge that is commonly added to PC 288 crimes to add sentencing punishments to the underlying crime. Common sentencing PC 288(a) and 288(b)(1) enhancements include: Kidnapping to commit a sex offense, multiple victim allegations, physical injury suffered by a minor during an act of child molestation, and denial of probation or suspended sentence (PC 667.61(c) & (d), 1203.066, and 1170(h)). Many of these enhancements make a PC 288 crime a life sentence.

Probation Sentences: A probation sentence is a period of supervision instead of jail or prison. Probation sentences are allowed but uncommon in PC 288(a), 288(b)(1), and 288(c)(1) cases. A probation sentence in a PC 288 case will only be granted if the judge finds special and unusual circumstances in a case and that probation will best serve the interests of justice. Some enhancements make a PC 288 crime ineligible for probation, including an enhancement of substantial sexual conduct charged as PC 1203.066. Substantial sexual conduct means the defendant is alleged to have touched the sexual organs of the child.

Suspended Prison Sentences: Suspended and split prison sentences are not available in PC 288 cases. This means that if the defendant is convicted of a PC 288 crime, and the defendant does not receive a probation sentence, then the defendant must serve his or her prison sentence in a California state prison and no part of that prison sentence may be served out of custody on work release or electronic monitoring (house arrest). For more information on suspended or split prison sentences see PC 1170(h) Crimes.

Sex Offender Registration: If found guilty of lewd and lascivious acts on a minor under PC 288(a), 288(b)(1), or 288(c)(1), the defendant will be ordered to register as sex offender for the remainder of his or her life. In some PC 288(c)(1) cases the defendant may be released from the obligation to register as sex offender upon the granting of a certificate of rehabilitation. For more information, please see sex offender registration or certificate of rehabilitation.

Three Strikes Offense: Lewd and lascivious acts on a minor filed under PC 288(a) or 288(b)(1) are strike crimes under California's Three Strikes Law. Moreover, these crimes are considered serious and violent offenses under PC 1197.2(c) and PC 667.5(c) respectively. 

Note: Misdemeanor PC 288(c)(1) is not a serious offense, a violent offense, or a strike crime.

Immigration Consequences: Non U.S. citizens convicted of PC 288 crimes may be deported or denied reentry into the United States. PC 288(a), 288(b)(1), and 288(c)(1) are all considered crimes involving moral turpitude and crimes of violence. For more information on crimes of moral turpitude and immigration consequences for criminal convictions, see immigration consequences

Collateral Penalties: In addition to the punishments and sentences listed above, if found guilty of child molestation under PC 288 the defendant may face any of the following: increased penalties for subsequent criminal actions, fines and fees, restitution orders, criminal protective orders, loss of suspension of a professional license, loss of the right to own and possess firearms (for felony convictions of PC 288 crimes), and more.

Defenses to PC 288 Crimes

Common defenses to PC 288 charges include: insufficient evidence, mistake of fact, statute of limitations, insanity, intoxication, coerced confessions, illegal search and seizure, and more.

Note: In many PC 288 cases a defense attorney will use a forensic child psychologist to show indicia of unreliability of statements due to circumstances, including adoption of other child's statement, improper interview techniques (leading or suggestive type questioning), false memory effect, effect of interviewer's bias on child's statements, motivation to misrepresent, limited ability to recall or accurately remember an event, expose hyper vigilance in a child, and more.

For more information on defenses, including defenses to lewd and lascivious act on a minor charged under PC 288(a), 288(b)(1), and 288(c)(1), see defenses.

Our Sex Crimes Attorneys

PC 288 cases carry some of the longest prison sentences of any crimes. The mere allegation of child molestation, even when untrue and uncorroborated, can destroy a person's career, relationships, and reputation. A conviction for a child molestation crime will carry lifelong punishments.

Despite severe punishments, PC 288 cases are among the most difficult cases to defend for the following reasons:

  • Reluctant and protected witnesses make favorable evidence gathering by defense more difficult. In fact, the accusing child is afforded the greatest protection against access to a defense interview;
  • Bails amounts are set so high in PC 288 cases that most defendants must fight their case from jail;
  • Prosecutors are under greater public pressure to win PC 288 cases and to not make deals with child molesters. Some of the best prosecutors are assigned to PC 288 cases;
  • Child molestation trials often involve distasteful and embarrassing evidence that is emotionally difficult for everyone involved. This emotion is difficult to suppress and jurors often emotionally side with the child who is alleging the defendant's conduct;
  • Defendants in PC 288 cases are often secretly and lawfully recorded by law enforcement during pretext telephone calls between the defendant and the alleged victim. The call is pretextual because it is placed by the alleged victim to the defendant for only one get a confession or an apology from the defendant. The major problem with these pretext phone calls is that defendants are sometimes compelled to apologize to a child accuser only to avoid a wrongful accusation to the police in the first place, or they apologize to an ambiguous set of alleged facts that are later filled in with more criminal facts by the alleged victim. The jury often hears from the prosecutors that the defendant "confessed" or "apologized" during these pretext calls, but a true confession from the defendant rarely occurrs. Expensive psychologists, defense testimony, and preparation of interview transcripts are often required to undue the damage of this unreliable practice.
  • Finally, jurors are more prejudiced against defendants in child molestation trials then other types of cases. Jurors will subconsciously seek to confirm their prejudices by unintentionally viewing the evidence in a manner that is consistent with that preset prejudice. This psychological phenomenon is called confirmation bias and its presence in PC 288 trials can be very difficult for defense attorneys to overcome.

Our sex crimes criminal defense attorneys are highly successful and experienced in sex crimes defense, including defense at trial for PC 288(a), 288(b)(1), 243.4, 209(b)(1), and other child molestation charges. We have a provable winning record in these types of cases and we have represented hundreds defendants charged with misdemeanor and felony sex crimes. See Recent PC 288 case victories.

WARNING: If you are charged with any crime, especially a sex crime, you should not speak to anyone about your case except a criminal defense attorney. Everything you say to anyone, law enforcement or otherwise, may, and usually will, be used against you in court. Time is not on your side. A good defense against PC 288 crimes starts early. 

If you are charged with the crime of lewd and lascivious acts against a minor (child molestation), or PC 288(a), 288(b)(1), or 288(c)(1), contact our sex crimes criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation. Our attorneys are available seven days a week to answer your questions and discuss your defense options. Call today!

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More PC 288 Crimes & Sentences

  • PC 288(a) Lewd & lascivious acts against a minor under  the age of 14 [Felony: sentence up to eight years in prison for each count; lifetime sex offender registration required upon conviction. Serious & Violent crime under CA Three Strikes Sentencing]
  • PC 288(b)(1) Lewd & lascivious acts against a minor by use of force or violence [Felony: sentence up to ten years in prison for each count; lifetime sex offender registration required upon conviction. Full consecutive sentencing. Serious & Violent crime under CA Three Strikes Sentencing]
  • PC 288(b)(2) Lewd & lascivious act against a dependent by force [Felony: sentence up to ten years in prison for each count; lifetime sex offender registration required upon conviction. Full consecutive sentencing. Serious & Violent crime under CA Three Strikes Sentencing]
  • PC 288(c)(1) Lewd & lascivious act on a 14 or 15 year child when the defendant is at least ten years older [Misdemeanor or Felony: sentence up to one year in jail for misdemeanor conviction and up to three years in prison for felony conviction; lifetime sex offender registration required for misdemeanor or felony conviction]
  • PC 288(c)(2) Lewd & lascivious act by a caretaker on a dependent adult [Misdemeanor or Felony: sentence up one year in jail for misdemeanor conviction and up to three years in prison for felony conviction; lifetime sex offender registration required for misdemeanor or felony conviction]
  • PC 288.7(a) Sodomy or intercourse with a child 10 years old or younger [Felony sentence of 25 to life; lifetime sex offender registration required]
  • PC 288.7(b) Oral copulation or sexual penetration with a foreign object against a child 10 years old or younger [Felony sentence of 15 to life; lifetime sex offender registration required]
  • PC 288.5(a) Continuous sexual abuse of a minor [Felony sentence up to 16 years in prison; sex offender registration for life]

Common PC 288 Sentencing Enhancements:

  • PC 667.61: Multiple victim allegations
  • PC 288(i): Evidence of physical injury
  • PC 209(b)(1): Kidnapping to commit PC 288
  • PC 667.71(b): Habitual sex offender
  • PC 1203.066: Substantial sexual conduct

Recent PC 288 Successes

  • F.F. Accused of two counts of PC 288(a), & PC 209(b)(1) in Riverside [Defendant faced life in prison] Trial: Psychologist testified, over prosecutor's objection, that the alleged victim suffered from common psychological phenomenon that affected her statements to the police (adopting statements of others, filling in for memory loss, confusing other person's history with her own, and questioned by goal objective officers, and others with leading, compound, and suggestive type questions: Result: Hung jury on all counts and offered probation only (no jail) before a second trial was conducted.
  • B.C. Accused of four counts of PC 288(a) in Riverside [Defendant faced 32 years in state prison at 85% percent]. Trial: 13 year old alleged victim testified at trial as to all four counts; alleged victim's younger brother testified that he witnessed several of the offenses. The District Attorney attempted to introduce hair fiber evidence to support his case. At trial, hair fiber evidence was excluded on successful motion by defense attorney; psychologist for defense testified as to the presence of pressure on the children, by non-forensic examiners, to testify against defendant: Result: Defendant found not guilty on two counts, jury hung 6/6 on remaining two retrial by D.A. on 288(a) charges.
  • E.C. Accused of seven counts ranging from 209(b)(1), 644/261 [Attempted rape on minor], 243.4 [Sexual Battery], and other sex crimes [Defendant faced life in prison plus 25 years] Trial: Confession by defendant played to jury but found to be coercive by police officers. Defense, over prosecutor's objection, was successful in bringing a medical expert to testify as to the extent of alleged victim's injuries and the inconsistencies in her testimony as it related to her alleged injuries: Result: First trial was hung on all counts, second trial defendant was found not guilty on the most severe charges and found guilty of only lesser offenses. Defendant was immediately released from custody with credit for time served after jury acquittal on most charges.
  • J.G. Accused of sexual penetration of minor under PC 289 [Defendant facing 8 years in prison at 85%] Trial: Confession of defendant thrown out on defense motion. Probation only offered by the prosecutor after remaining evidence was fairly weak to support conviction [Defendant accepted]
  • S.F. Accused of multiple counts of 288(a) and 288(b)(1) charges. Defense argued that the statute of limitations had expired when the alleged victim reported to a "rape crisis center" the conduct of the defendant. Defense argued that the rape crisis center is a mandated reporter and presumably reported the incident to the police. Therefore, the police are presumed to have learned of the event soon after the alleged victim reported to the rape crisis center. Outcome: Plea deal struck with DA for no-time offer before judge heard the motion to dismiss for failure to observe the statute of limitations

All Misdemeanor & Felony Sex Crimes Defense

California Child Molestation Laws & Defense PC 288(a), 288(b)(1), & 288(c)(1)


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