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Lewd Act Upon a Child Under 14
PC 288(a)
Law, Penalties, & Defense

Information on the crime of lewd and lascivious act on a minor under the age of fourteen (14), is found at California penal code section 288(a) [PC288(a)-F]. The following is a short summary of the law and punishment related to PC 288(a).

PC 288(a) Law (Abbrev.)

PC 288(a): Any person who willfully commits any lewd or lascivious act upon 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 (defendant) or the child, is guilty of a lewd or lascivious act against a child under 14 (PC 288(a)) [Abbrev.].

Lewd Act Defined: A lewd and lascivious act means an inappropriate sexual touching. The inappropriate sexual touching can be either when the child is touched by the defendant, or when the defendant is touched by the child as directed or forced by the defendant.

The inappropriate sexual touching does not have to be skin to skin contact for PC 288(a) to apply. Additionally, the inappropriate sexual touching can involve any part of the child or the defendant under Penal 288(a) law.


PC 288(a) Punishment

PC 288(a) Prison Sentence: Lewd and lascivious act upon a 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 for each PC 288(a) conviction.

Probation Sentences: A probation sentence in a PC 288(a) case is a period of supervision instead of a prison sentence. Probation sentences are allowed in 288(a) cases, but a probation sentence after conviction of PC 288(a) will only be granted if the judge finds 1) special and unusual circumstances in the case justify a probation sentence, 2) the interest of justice is best served by allowing the defendant to serve a probation sentence instead of a prison sentence, and 3) the community will not be placed in danger by allowing the defendant to remain out of prison.

Suspended Sentence: Suspended and split prison sentences are not available in PC 288(a) cases. This means that if the defendant is convicted of lewd and lascivious acts upon a child under the age of fourteen (14), and the defendant does not receive a probation sentence, then the defendant must serve his or her prison sentence in a California state prison, as opposed to a local county jail, and no part of that prison sentence may be served out of custody on work release or electronic monitoring (house arrest).

Sex Offender Registration: If found guilty of lewd and lascivious acts upon a minor under fourteen (14), the defendant will be ordered to register as sex offender with local law enforcement for at least twenty (20) years. For more information, see Sex Offender Registration Requirements.

Three Strikes Offense: Lewd and lascivious act upon a on a minor under fourteen (14) is a strike offense under California's Three Strikes Law. PC 288(a) is considered both a violent offense, and a serious offense under California law.


Immigration Consequences: Non-U.S. citizens convicted of PC 288(a) may be deported, denied naturalization, and denied reentry into the United States. Also, for purposes of immigration consequences, PC 288(a) is a classified as a crime involving moral turpitude and a crime of violence.

Collateral Penalties: In addition to the punishments and sentences listed above, if found guilty of lewd and lascivious act upon a minor under fourteen (14), the defendant may face all of the following penalties: increased penalties for subsequent misdemeanor or felony convictions, penalty fines and fees, victim restitution orders, criminal protective orders, loss or suspension of a professional license, loss of the right to own and possess firearms, loss of military service opportunities, civil lawsuits, and more.

Note: For common defenses related to Penal Code 288(a) criminal charges, including a discussion of the application of the statute of limitations defense in PC 288(a) cases, please see Sex Crimes Defense Strategies.

If you or a loved one is charged with California penal code section 288(a) [lewd and lascivious act upon a child under fourteen (14)], call our sex crimes criminal defense lawyers today. Our law firm has successfully represented hundreds of defendants charged with felony and misdemeanor sex crimes in every San Bernardino and Riverside County criminal court. Your consultation is free and discreet for first-time, in-office visits. Call today!


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