Lewd Act on a Child
14 or 15 Years Old
Law, Penalties, & Defense
Information on the crime of lewd and lascivious act on a minor the age of fourteen or fifteen (14 / 15), is found at California penal code section 288(c)(1) [PC288(c)(1)]. The following is a short summary of the law and punishment related to PC 288(c)(1).
PC 288(c)(1) Law (Abbrev.)
PC288(c)(1): A person who willfully commits any lewd or lascivious act upon a child age 14 or 15, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person (defendant) or the child, and the defendant is at least 10 years older than the child, is guilty of a lewd and lascivious act against minor age 14 or 15 (PC 288(c)(1)) [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.
Note: In determining whether the person is at least 10 years older than the child, the difference in age shall be measured from the birth date of the defendant to the birth date of the child.
PC 288(a) Punishment
Wobbler Crimes: Lewd and lascivious act upon a minor age 14 or 15 is classified as a “wobbler” offense. This means that PC 288(c)(1) may be criminally charged as either a felony, or alternatively as a misdemeanor. The crime “wobbles” between two crime classifications.
Felony Prison Sentence: When lewd and lascivious act upon a minor age fourteen (14) or fifteen (15) is charged as a felony, the defendant may face up to three years in a California state prison [PC288(c)(1)-F].
Misdemeanor Jail Sentence: When lewd and lascivious act upon a minor age 14 or 15 is charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant may face up to one (1) year in the county jail [PC288(c)(1-M].
Note: In PC 288(c)(1) cases, it may be possible to have a felony criminal charge reduced to a misdemeanor criminal charge. This is true even when the district attorney objects to the reclassification. Whether or not the district attorney, or the criminal court judge, reduces a felony to a misdemeanor, depends on many factors, including presence or absence of any aggravated or mitigating circumstances in the case, the defendant’s criminal history, the sophistication of the alleged offense, the terms of any negotiated plea bargain between the district attorney and the defendant, and more.
Probation Sentences: A probation sentence in a PC 288(c)(1) case is a period of supervision instead of a jail or prison sentence. Probation sentences are allowed in both felony and misdemeanor PC 288(c)(1) cases, but a probation sentence after conviction of felony PC 288(c)(1) will only be granted if the judge finds that 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, as opposed to a prison sentence, and 3) the community will not be placed in greater danger by allowing the defendant to remain out of prison. For more information, see Probation & Parole for CA Sex Crimes.
Suspended Sentence: Suspended and split prison sentences are not available in felony PC 288(c)(1) cases. This means that if the defendant is convicted of lewd and lascivious acts upon a child age 14 or 15, 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).
Note: Suspended and split prison sentence ineligibility only applies to felony PC 288(c)(1) cases. A misdemeanor jail sentence after a conviction for PC 288(c)(1) may be suspended or split, depending on many factors.
Sex Offender Registration: If found guilty of lewd and lascivious acts upon a child age fourteen (14) or fifteen (15), the defendant will be ordered to register as sex offender with local law enforcement for at least twenty (20) years [Felony PC 288(c)(1)-F Conviction], or ten (10) years [Misdemeanor PC288(c)(1)-M Conviction]. For more information, see Sex Offender Registration Requirements.
Three Strikes Offense: Lewd and lascivious act upon a on a child aged 14 or 15 is not a strike offense under California's Three Strikes Law. However, per PC 1170.12, a felony conviction of PC 288(c)(1) may trigger a “third strike” if the defendant has previously amassed two or more prior serious or violent felony convictions.
Immigration Consequences: Non-U.S. citizens convicted of PC 288(c)(1) may be deported, denied naturalization, and denied reentry into the United States. Also, for purposes of immigration consequences, both misdemeanor and felony violations of PC 288(c)(1) are classified as crimes involving moral turpitude and crimes of violence.
Collateral Penalties: In addition to the punishments and sentences listed above, if found guilty of lewd and lascivious act upon a minor aged 14 or 15, 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 (felony convictions), loss of military service opportunities, civil lawsuits, and more.
Note: For common defenses related to Penal Code 288(c)(1) criminal charges, including a discussion of the application of the statute of limitations defense in PC 288(c)(1) cases, see Sex Crimes Defense Strategies.
If you or a loved one is charged with California penal code section 288(c)(1) [lewd and lascivious act upon a child aged fourteen (14) or fifteen (15)], call our sex crimes criminal defense lawyers today. Our award-winning criminal defense team 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!