California P.C. 288(a) Child Molestation / Lewd Acts with a Child Under 14
“Child Molestation” is formally called Lewd Acts with a Child under the age of 14 and it’s governed under Penal Code 288(a). Mere accusations of child molestation can have devastating consequences on an individual and destroy all familial & friendship relationships. Additionally, prosecutors treat sex crimes very seriously, especially crimes against children and often add additional charges of assault and sexual battery. Thus, the punishment is substantially great often requiring the defendant serve time in state prison and register as a sex offender for the rest of their life. It’s important that if you have been accused or arrested for child molestation, contact an attorney immediately. You should not make any statement to anyone whatsoever.
Los Angeles Child Molestation Lawyer John Rogers understands that accusations of child molestation can occur at any time which is why he makes himself available 7 days a week to consult with individuals accused of sex offenses. The best approach to defeating child molestation accusations is early criminal defense attorney intervention, contact Mr. Rogers immediately.
Lewd Acts with a Child under 14 Defined
In California, Penal Code 288(a) provides the formal definition of child molestation, “Any person who willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act, upon 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.”
Elements of the Crime
In order to prove that someone is guilty of child molestation under P.C. 288(a), the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- Defendant willfully touched any part of a child’s body by bare skin or through clothing
- Defendant willfully caused a child to touch defendant’s body, or someone else, by bare skin or through clothing
- Defendant committed the act with intent to arouse, appeal, gratify lust, or desires
- Child was under the age of 14
Consent of a child does not constitute a defense for the act. In addition, arousing, appealing to, or gratifying lust of the defendant or the child is not required. Furthermore, the actual touching need not be in a sexual manner.
Searching your Electronic Devices
When police officers begin a child molestation investigation, the first thing they usually do is obtain a search warrant to forensically examine all of your electronic devices – i.e., mobile phone, computer, laptop, email account, including all content you erased previously, internet searches, etc. Police are generally looking for any admission made by your to the act or whether or not you possess child pornography. Furthermore, it gives law enforcement a chance to see whether or not they should continue investigating you since the evidence usually consists of one witness, the victim. Police are looking for additional evidence to build their cases against you to corroborate the alleged victim’s accusation. In addition, police officers often seize your mobile device via search warrant to ascertain your GPS phone location during the time of the incident.
Police Attempting to Question You
As stated above, child molestation accusations often consist of a single witness pointing the finger at you. Police officers always investigate to find additional evidence to corroborate the alleged victim’s statement. When police officers or a detective asks to “talk” to you, respectfully say no and contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. Giving a statement to a detective will only hurt your chances of defeating the accusations. Detectives want you to make an incriminating statement to build their case against you. Again, if police want to speak with you, chances are Police don’t have much evidence.
What are the Legal Defenses to Child Molestation?
- Child molestation cases are typically filed against a defendant after a long period of time. However, a long delay may have prejudiced a defendant’s ability to put on a defense under their due process right. For instance, loss of witness memory, destruction or dissipation of evidence, death of exculpatory witnesses, etc. If a person’s due process right has been violated by a prolonged period of time, the case will then be dismissed.
- False accusations of child molestation are unfortunately common. There are a number of reasons for falsely accusing someone. For instance, a messy divorce could have caused a former spouse to fabricate molestation stories about you in an effort to gain full custody of the child or gain a favorable result in property division.
- Mistaken identification is also unfortunately common. Witness identification has been proven to be fallible and discredit worthy, hence why investigators often attempt to question an accused or seek corroborating evidence.
- Another common defense is that the accuser suffered mistaken memory issues causing them to exaggerate the circumstances over a prolonged period of time. Other factors are the constant influence and suggestiveness or other family member or law enforcement bombardment of false information that the accuser over time believes actually occurred.
- The child was 14 years old or older: If the child not under the age of 14 then you are not guilty under this statute.
Defending your case with Expert Witnesses
Child molestation and sex crime cases are typically defended with an expert witness to testify. Los Angeles Child Molestation Lawyer John Rogers has access to numerous experts to testify on your behalf. For instance, psychologists, child psychiatrists, eyewitness / memory experts that would call into the question the victim’s accusations and or the validity of the prosecutors case in general.
Police Look for Other Victims
Child molestation case often have multiple people coming forward. Police officers are aware of this and often question family members, relatives, and friends of the accused to additionally support their case against you.
What is the Punishment for Child Molestation in California?
Punishment for child molestation varies depending on the circumstances. Pertinent questions to ask are: Whether there was a weapon involved? Did you threaten the victim? Were you working in a caretaker capacity? Do you have a prior sex crime on your record? Have you been to state prison before? These questions are important because it can add an additional two years to your prison sentence. However, if none of the above questions are applicable, punishment ranges as follows:
- 3, 6, or 8 years in state prison
- Lifetime Sex Offender Registration
- Probation / Parole Supervision
- Sex Offender Counseling Classes
- Protective / Stay Away Order Imposed
- Court Fines & Restitution to the Victim
Los Angeles Criminal Defense Investigation to Child Molestation
It is important that an extensive investigation be conducted on your behalf if you have been accused of any sex crime, especially one involving a child. A majority of the time, a private investigator is retained to conduct this investigation on your behalf to obtain necessary records and information in preparation of your defense.
- Phone records, text message, emails must be examined by your defense attorney to determine if foul play is involved – i.e., if anyone is motivated to influence their child to say you molested them bring out that you’ve been false accused.
- Video or audio recording of family or social events with you and the complaining victim.
- A full detailed analysis of your relationship, if any, with the complaining victim. How you met? How often have you seen the complaining victim?
- Incidences involving lying, deceit, or prior false accusations of the complaining victim or their direct family members.
- Interviewing all witnesses and running background checks on anyone the prosecutor intends to call as a witness to testify against you.
- If you have an alibi, it’s necessary to get as much information as possible to prove your innocence.
Free Los Angeles Child Molestation Attorney Consultation
Sex crime accusations are extremely serious which is why one should retain an attorney at the earliest possible stage. If you have been arrested, charged, accused, or under investigation of child molestation, contact Los Angeles Sex Crimes Attorney John Rogers at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers immediately. Mr. Rogers is located at 1801 Century Park East, 24th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90067. Call 877-888-9820 now for a free confidential consultation concerning your rights and defenses.