Child Molestation/Sexual Assault

Lewd Act with a Child/Child Molestation (Penal Code §288)

Child Molestation is a serious charge and not only carries grave legal consequences but has severe social consequences as well. Sadly, this accusation can ruin an innocent person's life. A conviction of almost any type of child molestation will result in a branding as a sex offender for life, social ostracism, and often destroys relationships with family and friends. To avert the consequences, you should consult an Orange County child molestation lawyer.

False accusations of child molestation DO happen, but the truth is, the prosecutor and society are inclined to believe the accuser. If the accusation becomes a conviction, the consequences last a lifetime. It is imperative that anyone accused of molesting a child consult with an attorney experienced in defending this type of crime.

A charge under Penal Code section 288 makes it a crime to touch a child under the age of 14 with a sexual intent. The touching does not have to be on the child's bare skin; touching through clothing, if the intent is sexual, is a crime under this section. Under the law, a child under 14 cannot consent; therefore the child's "consent" to the touching is not a defense. Nor is there a defense of mistaken age of the child, even if the child appeared to be and/or claimed to be much older.

Every discreet act of touching with sexual intent can be charged as a separate count. For example, if the child is fondled in one area of his or her body and then kissed, those are two separate acts of lewd conduct that can be charged as two separate counts.

When these acts are committed on a child of 14 or 15 years of age and the person committing the act is at least ten years older than the child, the crime is punished under Penal Code section 288(c)(1). While this crime is punished less severely than if the child is under 14 years old, it will still result in a "branding" as a sex offender with a lifetime registration requirement.

When these acts are committed against a child 16 or 17 years old, it will be prosecuted as statutory rape or sexual battery, rather than child molestation. Both of these charges will also expose the accused to the sex offender lifetime registration requirement.

I am an experienced child molestation attorney in Orange County with many successes in defending these types of allegations. Because the social consequences of a conviction under this particular statute are very serious, a person accused of child molestation must immediately enlist the help of an attorney who will fight hard for the best possible outcome. I will challenge every element of the case, from the scientific evidence to witness statements and everything in between. Contact me at any time to set up a confidential consultation with an Orange County child molestation attorney without charge. I will work with you and your family to provide a fee structure that best suits your circumstances.


Perhaps the most severe consequence of a conviction under this statute is the lifetime sex offender registration requirement. Any conviction under Penal Code section 288 will result in a mandatory requirement that the offender register pursuant to Penal Code section 290. Among other impediments, this registration requirement will result in social ostracism and difficulty finding a place to live and work.

If convicted of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14, the offense is a felony with a sentence of three, six, or eight years imprisonment in state prison. If force was used upon the child, the sentence is five, eight, or ten years imprisonment. When it is a case of molesting a child with whom the accused lives or has frequent contact and the molestation occurs over at least three months and includes at least three separate acts, the punishment proscribe under Penal Code section 288.5 is imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 6, 12, or 16 years.

When the act or acts are committed against a child age 14 or 15 and the accused is at least 10 years older than the child, the punishment is imprisonment in the state prison for one, two, or three years, or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year. A child molestation lawyer in Orange County can help you try to stay out of jail if you have been charged.

California Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog - Sex Crimes