What is the Punishment for PC 288? California Lewd Acts with a Minor

January 8, 2022

Overview of Lewd Acts with a Minor in California

Lewd acts with a minor is charged under penal code 288(a) pc.[1] To be convicted, the prosecutor must prove:

  1. You willfully touched or caused the minor to touch yourself, themselves, or another;

  2. The act was committed with the intent to arouse, appeal, gratify the lust, or sexual desires of themselves or the minor;

  3. The minor was under 14 years old.[2]

Penalties & Punishment for PC 288

Penal Code 288(a) is punishable in the state prison and a fine up to $10,000. A conviction will require the offender to register as a sex offender.

Victim Under 14

If the alleged victim is under the age of 14 at the time of the act, then it is punishable in the state prison for 3, 6, or 8 years.

Victim is 14 or 15

A person who commits lewd acts upon a minor that is 14 or 15 years old, and the defendant is at least 10 years older than the minor, then the offense is a wobbler.[3] This means that the offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor conviction carries up to 1 year in the county jail. A felony conviction carries a prison sentence of 1, 2, or 3 years.

Force, Threat, Fear

If the act was carried out by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or another person, then it carries a sentence of 5, 8, or 10 years in prison.[4]

Bodily Harm

If the victim suffers bodily injury as a result of the defendant, then the prosecutor will file charges under penal code 288(i)(1). Bodily harm means any substantial physical injury resulting from the use of force that is more than necessary to commit the crime.[5] A conviction will carry a prison sentence of life with the possibility of parole.

Sentencing Enhancements

Third Strike

PC 288 is categorized as a strike offense applicable to California’s three-strike laws. If someone has two prior strike convictions, then a third conviction will carry a sentence of 25 years to life. A prior strike can be either a serious or violent felony.

Habitual Sex Offender

A habitual sex offender is someone who suffers from one or more convictions for an enumerated offense. A habitual sexual offender must be punished in the state prison for 25 years to life. An enumerated sex offense, among others, includes:

One-Strike Offender

Penal Code 667.61 is a special sex crime allegation that identifies several instances where an offender could receive a life sentence. Moreover, if a defendant committed an enumerated sex offense while in the commission of residential burglary, then it carries a 25 to life prison sentence.[6]

Great Bodily Injury

If the victim suffers great bodily injury, then the punishment carries a consecutive 3 years in prison. Great bodily injury means significant or substantial physical injury. It is an injury that is greater than minor or moderate harm.

Hire a Sex Crimes Lawyer Today

If you are under investigation for committing lewd acts with a minor under PC 288(a), then contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers today. We offer free confidential consultations about your rights, defenses, and all your options. Attorney John D. Rogers is a board-certified criminal law specialist by the California state bar. His certification assures competency and experience within an area of law and professionalism and ethics in practice. Only a small amount of practicing criminal defense lawyers in California hold this distinction. Give us a call at (949) 625-4487 to speak with an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney.


[1] Pen. Code, § 288(a) – (“Except as provided in subdivision (i), a person who willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act, including any of the acts constituting other crimes provided for in Part 1, upon or with the body, or any part or member thereof, of 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 or the child, is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.”)

[2] See CALCRIM No. 1000.

[3] Penal Code 288(c)(1) – (“A person who commits an act described in subdivision (a) with the intent described in that subdivision, and the victim is a child of 14 or 15 years, and that person is at least 10 years older than the child, is guilty of a public offense and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for one, two, or three years, or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year. 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 person to the birth date of the child.”)

[4] Penal Code 288(b)(2) – (“A person who is a caretaker and commits an act described in subdivision (a) upon a dependent person by use of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or another person, with the intent described in subdivision (a), is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for 5, 8, or 10 years.”)

[5] Penal Code 288(i)(3) – (“As used in this subdivision, ‘bodily harm’ means any substantial physical injury resulting from the use of force that is more than the force necessary to commit the offense.”)

[6] Penal Code 667.61(d)(4) – (“The defendant committed the present offense during the commission of a burglary of the first degree, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 460, with intent to commit an offense specified in subdivision (c).”)

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