California PC 288.4 – Arranging a Meeting with a Minor for Lewd Purposes
In California, arranging a meeting with a minor to commit a lewd and lascivious act is charged under penal code 288.4 pc. It is characterized as a wobbler, which generally allows the prosecutor to file misdemeanor or felony charges. However, if the accused actually goes to the agreed location, then the crime is a straight felony.
PC 288.4(a)(1) criminalize arranging a meeting with a minor, or someone the defendant believes to be a minor, for the purpose of exposing their genitals, pubic, rectal area, or engaging in a lewd and lascivious act.
PC 288.4(b) is a straight felony that criminalizes the same conduct, but it’s more aggravating since the defendant actually went to the arranged meeting place or suffers from a prior conviction.
The crime is accomplished through various means such as via e-mail, text messages, online chat, or through social media platforms. It is not uncommon for a defendant to communicate with a law enforcement officer posing as a minor.
Someone charged under this crime may also be charged with:
- Sending harmful matter to a minor – PC 288.2
- Contacting a Minor for Lewd Purposes – PC 288.3
- Lewd and Lascivious Acts with a Minor – PC 288(a)
- California Child Endangerment – PC 273a
Prosecution for Penal Code 288.4 PC
To be convicted of PC 288.4, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- Defendant arranged a meeting with a minor or with someone who the defendant believed to be a minor;
- Defendant was motivated by abnormal or unnatural sexual interest;
- Defendant intended to engage in sexual contact with a minor;
- Defendant showed up at the designated location to meet the minor.
Legal Defenses to Arranging a Meeting with a Minor
A defendant must be motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in children. Similarly, the law requires that you intend to engage in a sexual act with the minor. Accordingly, if the communications reveal that the intent was to socialize only, then you didn’t harbor the requisite intent to commit the crime.
Good-Faith Belief in Age
The prosecutor is required to believe that the minor is actually under the age of 18. However, you may assert a good-faith in-age defense if you reasonably and actually believed the alleged victim was 18 or over.
Entrapment occurs when law enforcement coerced or harassed the accused into contacting and attempting to meet with the minor. It requires that the crime would not have occurred if the police had not harassed or coerced the accused.
Punishment for Soliciting a Minor for Lewd Purposes
A misdemeanor conviction under PC 288.4(a)(1) carries:
- Up to 1 year in the county jail,
- 10-year sex offender registration,
- Up to $5,000 in court fines and fees.
If convicted of a felony, then the punishment is:
- 2, 3, or 4 years in the state prison,
- 20-year sex offender registration,
- Up to $5000 in court fines and fees.
A felony conviction occurs when a defendant either (1) goes to the arranged location, or (2) has a prior conviction under PC 288.4.
Examples of PC 288.4
A police officer poses as a 14-year-old girl and places an internet ad wanting to speak with an older man. Dan responds to the ad and engages in multiple discussions with the undercover police officer. The two arrange a meeting to have lunch in a public place. When Dan arrives at the location he is immediately arrested by police. In this scenario, Dan would not be guilty of arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes because the underlying meeting was not for sexual purposes but rather to have lunch.
Dan was chatting online with Sally. Sally and Dan agree to meet at the local coffee shop and later engage in intercourse. Dan shows up at the local coffee shop and is arrested on the spot for arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes. In this case, although Dan had the intention of engaging in a sexual act with Sally, however, Dan did not “know” Sally was a minor, therefore Dan is not guilty of this crime.
Contact Us to Schedule a Free Consultation
If you are under investigation or have been charged with PC 288.4, then you need to protect yourself by retaining an experienced Orange County sex crimes attorney. Call the Law Offices of John D. Rogers today to schedule a free confidential consultation.
Attorney John D. Rogers is a board-certified criminal law specialist by the State Bar of California. This distinction is only held by a small percentage of California criminal defense lawyers. Give him a call today to discuss your matter and start mounting your defense.
 Penal Code 288.4 provides, “Every person who, motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in children, arranges a meeting with a minor or a person he or she believes to be a minor for the purpose of exposing his or her genitals or pubic or rectal area, having the child expose his or her genitals or pubic or rectal area, or engaging in lewd or lascivious behavior, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both the fine and imprisonment.
(2) Every person who violates this subdivision after a prior conviction for an offense listed in subdivision (c) of Section 290 shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison.
(b) Every person described in paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) who goes to the arranged meeting place at or about the arranged time, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years.
(c) Nothing in this section shall preclude or prohibit prosecution under any other provision of law.”
 See same.
 See same.
 See CALCRIM Nos. 1125 and 1126.
 See CALCRIM No. 3408.
 See same.