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What Does California Define as Lewd and Lascivious Conduct? 288(a)

Posted in Criminal Defense,Sex Crimes on April 21, 2021

If you or somebody you love has been accused of engaging in lewd and lascivious conduct, a need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The charge of lewd and lascivious conduct in California can result in a person facing extremely stiff penalties, including time in prison, major fines, and a requirement to register as a sex offender. Here, we want to discuss PC 288(a) and how it can affect a person if they are convicted.

What is lewd conduct?

When we turn to Penal Code 288 in California, we can see that it is illegal for a person to engage in any lewd or lascivious conduct with a minor. “Lewd and lascivious” acts refer to any actions that are indecent or of a sexual nature. We will often see these charges commonly referred to as child molestation in the state of California.

Examples of behaviors that are categorized as lewd conduct

There are various types of actions that a person can complete that could be considered lewd and lascivious conduct in order to satisfy prosecution requirements in California. Some of the conduct that is considered lewd and lascivious towards a minor includes the following:

  • Groping
  • Indecent exposure of genitalia
  • Sexually touching somebody else
  • Getting somebody else to touch the defendant sexually
  • Convincing or forcing others to touch each other in a sexual manner

In order for a person to be found guilty of lewd and lascivious acts, the sexual contact must be intentional and willful. This cannot be accidental contact.

A common question that we receive about PC 288 is whether or not lewd or lascivious acts can be committed if the child involved was wearing clothes. For the purposes of a violation of this law, the required element for prosecution is that the specific intent of the defendant was to satisfy sexual desire or arousal. Thus, a lewd and lascivious act can occur whether a person touched a child’s naked body (or the child touched the defendant’s body) or a child’s clothed body.

Additionally, penetration is not required for a person to be found guilty of lewd and lascivious acts against a minor. In general, oral copulation or orifice penetration will likely turn a lewd and lascivious act into a more severe type of crime, including rape, sexual assault, or sexual battery.

lewd conduct charges in California

Penalties for a conviction

Under PC 288 in California, we can see that a person convicted for this offense will be guilty of a felony and subject to up to 8 years in state prison. There are also circumstances under this Penal Code where a person could be eligible for probation, with or without a jail term involved. The court will use various factors to determine whether or not probation is appropriate in these situations. Some of these factors can include the nature and circumstances of the crime, the remorse of the defendant, and the vulnerability of the victim.

If the court determines that probation is not appropriate in this situation, a prison sentence of three, six, or eight years will be assigned based on mitigating or aggravating factors laid out under California law. A court can also impose a fine of up to $10,000.

Is a sex offender registration required?

If a person is convicted under any part of PC 288 in California, they will be required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of their life. Failing to register as a sex offender in California could result in a prison sentence of up to three years when the underlying conviction was a PC 288 violation.

If you were charged with lewd and lascivious conduct in California, contact our defense lawyer in Riverside as soon as possible to start working on your case.