Lewd or Lascivious Acts
with Child Under 14
PC 288(a) & PC 288(a)-F
Law, Penalties, & Defense
Information on the crime of lewd or lascivious acts with child under 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 or 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.
Multiple PC 288(a) Sentencing: It is not uncommon for a defendant to be charged with multiple counts of penal code 288(a), from one "incident" of lewd or lascivious act upon a child under 14 years of age. This is because the Caselaw related to PC 288(a) states that "each individual act that meets the requirements of section 288 can result in a new and separate violation" (People v. Scott (1994). 'There is no requirement that multiple acts of PC 288 be separated by hiatus or period of reflection' (People v. Jimenez (2002) [Summarized].
Example: Jane Doe, a thirteen-year-old female, claims defendant, unlawfully and with sexual intent, touched two different areas of her breasts over the course of a few seconds. Result: Defendant may be charged with two counts of PC 288(a).
Multiple PC 288(a) Sentencing: Multiple charges of lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14 years of age may be served concurrently, which means 'at the same time.' In other words, multiple counts of PC 288(a) do not necessarily require a longer prison sentence; however, for purposes of sentencing, the "maximum" prison sentence for multiple counts of PC 288(a) equals eight (8) years for count 1, and two (2) additional years for each additional count.
Example: John is convicted of three (3) counts of lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14 years of age (PC 288(a)). At sentencing, the judge may either grant probation (See Probation Sentence); order three (3) years of prison (low-term of three (3) years for each count of PC 288(a) to be served concurrently); order six (6) years of prison (mid-term of six (6) years for each count of PC 288(a) to be served concurrently); order eight (8) years of prison (high term of eight (8) years for each count of each count of PC 288(a) to be served concurrently); or order twelve (12) years of prison (eight (8) years of prison for count one and two years of prison for counts two and three).
Note: Other sentencing combinations may apply, but the important part of PC 288(a) sentencing is to know that each count may run concurrently to other counts of PC 288(a) [No "consecutive" sentencing in most PC 288(a) cases].
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 (PC 667.5, and PC 1192.7, respectively.).
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 or lascivious acts with child under 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!