Does the Mistake in Age Defense Apply to PC 288(a)?

April 22, 2023

Penal Code 288(a) prohibits lewd or lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14 in California. This means that if an individual engages in any type of sexual conduct with a child under the age of 14, they can be charged with this crime.

One defense that is commonly raised in cases involving PC 288(a) is that the defendant believed the child was over the age of 14. However, this defense is not valid under the law. Under California law, the prosecution does not have to prove that the defendant knew the victim’s age. Instead, the prosecution only has to prove that the defendant engaged in the prohibited conduct with a child under the age of 14.

This is known as a “strict liability” crime, which means that the defendant’s intent or knowledge of the victim’s age is not a factor in determining guilt. This means that even if the defendant honestly and reasonably believed the victim was over the age of 14, they can still be found guilty of the crime.

Furthermore, even if the victim represented themselves as being older than 14, the defendant can still be found guilty under Penal Code 288(a). The law states that a child under the age of 14 is not capable of consenting to sexual conduct, regardless of whether they represent themselves as being older.

Another defense that is commonly raised in cases involving Penal Code 288(a) is that the defendant did not know that the conduct was prohibited. However, this defense is also not valid under the law. The law does not require the prosecution to prove that the defendant knew that the conduct was illegal. Instead, the prosecution only has to prove that the defendant engaged in the prohibited conduct.

In addition to the above, it is important to note that a conviction under PC 288(a) carries severe penalties. A conviction can result in a state prison sentence of up to eight years, as well as the requirement to register as a sex offender. The conviction also carries a lifetime ban on owning firearms and a lifetime prohibition on working with children.

Contact Us for Help in Southern California

If you’ve been accused of PC 288(a), then you must protect yourself. Contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers today. Call us to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Orange County sex crimes attorney.

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