Lewd and Lascivious Act on a child is an extremely serious criminal offense, but one that may be defendable in California if handled properly by an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Below is a short general summary of the law but California sex crime laws are extensive and cannot be easily summarized without knowing the facts of a specific case.
The best thing you can do for someone charged with this crime is to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Lewd Act on Child Charges
A person may be charged with committing a lewd or lascivious act under California Penal Code § 288 when:
- He or she willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act,
- The person commits the act on or with the body or any part of the body of a child less than 14 years old; and
- The person commits the act with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust or passions or sexual desires of that person or of the child
Any touching of the child committed with the intent to sexually arouse the person or the child can constitute a lewd or lascivious act under the meaning of the law. The touching itself need not be in an inherently lewd manner, and sometimes may even have the outward appearance of innocence.
It may also be of any part of the victim's body, or on the victim's clothes. A common misconception is that rape must occur or that even contact with the bare skin, or with “private parts” is required. It is in fact not and a person may be charged with this crime for what may appear innocent touching. That is why it is crucial to have a qualified criminal defense lawyer to ensure that a person charged with this serious crime gets the best representation possible and has his or her side of the story heard.
The circumstances of the touching are highly relevant to whether the touching was done to sexually arouse the defendant or the child. Factors that a court or a prosecutor will consider include:
- The person's statements to a police officer;
- If the person accused has any prior acts of lewd conduct admitted or charged against him;
- The relationship of the person being accused and the alleged victim; and
- If there was any coercion, bribery, or deceit used to obtain the victim's cooperation to avoid reporting the crime
Punishment for Lascivious Act on Child
This offense is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six or eight years, and a severe monetary fine. Additionally there are many sentencing factors and enhancements that may apply to this crime.
For instance if a person is charged with several instances of lewd conduct, the government may charge that person with several counts and then sentence them consecutively (meaning time is served one after another). This would extend a possible prison sentence tremendously.
There are also enhancements that apply depending on the circumstances of the case. In addition to prison time there may also be other punishments that a person would be sentenced to such as registration as a sex offender and hormonal chemical treatment (forced sterilization). Only a seasoned criminal defense lawyer can advise you of all of the possible consequences and defenses available.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
When someone is charged with a sex crime the best thing they can do for themselves is hire a qualified criminal defense attorney who will zealously fight for their case. Many times, cases are won and lost based on the type of representation a person has.
Don't let yourself or your loved one be bullied by the strong-arm tactics of the government. Many sexual crimes can be defended and the person may be acquitted if they are handled correctly. Contact The Sigal Law Group for a FREE evaluation of your case. Toll free: (888) 335-6008.