Setting Up a Meeting with a Minor for Lewd Purposes

This statute falls under California’s Sex Crimes and these kinds of offenses should never be taken lightly. Attempting to legally fight these charges without help can be a daunting task.

Facing possible charges for violating California’s PC 288.4, arrange a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes, is an extremely serious offense. A conviction could result in high fines and potential jail time.

Treating these charges seriously means retaining the legal expertise of a criminal defense lawyer. They are familiar with the legal statutes and penalties associated with PC 288.4 and know what it takes to defend against it.

Free Consultation (619)-233-4433

Legal Definition of PC 288.4

To better understand what this law entails, we must look at how California defines it. Under PC288.4, it is unlawful to:

  • Arrange, set up, or solicit a meeting with a minor, including anyone you think might be a minor,
    • A minor is a person who is under the age of eighteen years old.
  • While being motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in minor, and
  • With every intention to engage in sexual misconduct with said minor at this meeting.
    • The sexual misconduct that is covered under this, include, but are not limited to:
      • Exposing one’s privates, i.e. genitals, pubic, or rectal areas.
      • Forcing the minor to expose their own private areas.
      • Touching the minor anywhere on their body for the purposes of sexual gratification/arousal.

Getting convicted for this crime is possible even if the defendant never actually engaged in any lewd, lascivious, or sexual misconduct with a minor. With that in mind, it is entirely plausible for the defendant to get convicted of this offense, even if they never actually met with the minor.

Any suspected crime that involves minors will often result in quick action by law enforcement, especially when proof is presented of the interaction, such as text messages, letters, or photo/video evidence. With this in mind, retaining effective legal representation as soon as you are suspected of any such crime is strongly recommended. Police officers are known to make arrests as soon as possible, if the offense directly involves harming a minor.

Similar Offenses

The following Penal Code sections carry similar parameters to PC 288.4, arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes. The crimes directly involve underage minors, however, there are factors that differentiate them from other statutes.

PC 288 - lewd acts with a minor

It is against the law to:

  • Meet with a minor,
    • The minor/minor is under fourteen years old, or
    • The minor is either fourteen or fifteen years old, and the defendant is ten or more years older than the minor.
  • Touch them anywhere on their body, or
  • Force the minor to touch anyone else, and
  • Do so for sexual purposes.

PC 288.2 - sending harmful material to a minor

Under this statute, it is unlawful to:

  • Send explicit, sexually inappropriate, or obscene content to a minor,
  • In order to sexually arouse oneself or the minor, and
  • With the intent to seduce the underage minor.

PC 311 - minor pornography

This law prohibits:

  • Sending, transporting, printing, exchanging, advertising, possessing, or duplicating minor pornography; or
  • Hiring, persuading, coercing, or forcing minors to participate in making minor pornography.

NOTE: there are multiple subsections this law coversand they can be difficult to navigate without an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help.

Related/Associated Offenses

These crimes are often associated with or related to PC 288.4, however, they do carry different elements of the crime. That being said, it is still entirely possible to be charged with these offenses in addition to your current charges.

PC 653b - loitering at a school

It is unlawful to:

  • Delay yourself, linger, loiter, or idle at or near a school or public place where minors usually gather; or
  • Entered, re-enter, or remain in a school or public place where minors usually gather, and
    • you did so within 72 hours of being asked to leave the premises by a school official;
  • Not have any reasonable explanation or lawful purpose for being on or near the premises, and
  • Have the intent to commit a criminal act when/if the opportunity presents itself.

PC 273d - minor abuse

Elements of this crime include:

  • Imposing physical injury or cruel punishment on a minor.
  • Exacting corporal injury on a minor, such as
    • Punching,
    • Kicking,
    • Slapping hard enough to leave a mark.

PC 261.5 - statutory rape

It is unlawful to:

  • Engage in sexual intercourse with a minor, someone who is under the age of eighteen,
  • Regardless of whether it was ‘consensual,’ and
  • The minor was not more than three years older or three years younger than the alleged perpetrator.

The Prosecution

California treats this statute seriously, so you can expect the prosecution to fight with a strong hand. For the prosecution to get a conviction they must first prove beyond a reasonable doubt the facts of the crime took place. This means proving the elements of the crime and that you allegedly committed them.

What are the elements of the crime?

  • The defendant set up a meeting with a minor,
  • While being motivated by an unnatural/abnormal sexual interest in minors, and
  • They scheduled the meeting with the intention of committing lewd or lascivious sexual misconduct with a minor under the age of eighteen.

On a side note, it is important to remember that an individual can be convicted of violating California’s PC 288.4, even if the alleged victim was not an actual minor. You can be found guilty if you believed the alleged victim was a minor at the time of the meeting. Law enforcement often use this detail to their advantage. Sting operations set up by undercover cops pretending to be minors can result in making these kinds of arrests.

Who Can Be Charged?

The examples below illustrate who can be charged with violating California’s PC 288.4, setting up a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes.

Scenario 1:

Arnie is an adult and is texting his minor neighbor, Grace, whom he knows is only 12 years old. He texts her to set up a meeting at his house. He messages her that it will be a romantic dinner and he intends on seducing her. Grace’s parents find out and the text messages are saved as evidence. Arnie can be convicted of PC 288.4, arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes.

Scenario 2:

Jean solicited someone she believed to be a minor for lewd and sexual purposes. This supposed minor was an undercover cop, posing on the street. Jean set up a meeting with this undercover minor and was subsequently arrested. She could be charged with PC 288.4, soliciting a meeting with a minor for lewd/lascivious purposes. Even though the undercover cop was not technically a minor, the law states that Jean just had to believe she was meeting with a minor.

Scenario 3:

Kristie is an older woman and knew that 14-year-old Jessica had a crush on her. Instead of being reasonable and recognizing the age difference, Kristie wanted to pursue a relationship. She messaged Jessica to come over for dinner and possibly play strip poker with her. Jessica goes over for the dinner, her parents find out, and they report it to the police.

Charges for PC 288.4 can be filed against Kristie, of which she would be found guilty. However, because she met with the minor, the charge will be an automatic felony. The first offense would have been a misdemeanor, simply messaging the minor to set up a meeting. The second offense is physically meeting with the minor, which results in felony penalties. If it is discovered that sexual misconduct actually took place, Kristie could be charged with PC 288, lewd acts with a minor.

Legal Defense

Retaining legal representation is highly-recommended when facing such charges. An aggressive, effective criminal defense attorney can help fight this offense for the best possible outcome. The following questions are only some examples of what kind of legal defenses have been used in court.

Was this a wrongful arrest or case of mistaken identity?

Crimes against minors are treated with a near zero tolerance policy from law enforcement. This, however, can lead to police officers making arrests without having investigated the situation. Thus, resulting in investigating and/or arresting the wrong person.

Is this a false accusation?

There have been cases where a minor makes a false accusation, confusing you for the actual perpetrator. This could be for several reasons, from looking similar to the person who committed the act to possibly being impersonated. For instance, your phone number, email, or other messaging device was stolen/cloned and used to contact minors for inappropriate purposes.

Did you know the other person was a minor?

To be found guilty of this crime, the defendant must have known or believed they were meeting with a minor. However, if you had it on good faith that the alleged victim was of a legal age, that burden of proof is on you. If you reasonably believed the other person involved was eighteen or older and can provide some sort of proof to that effect, you are not guilty of violating PC 288.4, arranging to meet with a minor for lewd purposes.

California Entrapment

This defense has been used in cases where members of law enforcement coerced, forced, or harassed the defendant into setting up a meeting with a minor for lewd/lascivious purposes. For this legal defense to work, you must prove that the meeting with the minor would not have taken place if the law enforcement officer had not originally reached out to you.

Penalties

The punishments for being convicted of PC 288.4. meeting with a minor for lewd purposes, are:

Misdemeanor for the 1st offense

  • Summary (informal) probation,
  • Fines of up to five thousand dollars,
  • Potentially up to one year in the county jail, and/or
  • Sex Offender Registration, PC 290.
    • The defendant will be considered a tier one sex offender.
    • This designation carries ten-year minimum registration requirements.

If the defendant physically met with the minor it is a felony and considered a 2nd offense

  • Formal (felony) probation,
  • Up to ten thousand dollars in fines, and/or
  • 2, 3, or 4 years in state prison.

If there are previous convictions for California sex crimes it is a felony

  • Formal probation,
  • As much as ten thousand dollars in fines, and/or
  • 16 months, 2, or 3 years in state prison.

Additional Penalties

California’s Sex Offender Registration, PC 290, states that anyone convicted of certain sex offenses are required to place their name in a public record for such crimes. This applies to anyone, even if they were convicted of a sex crime in another state.

For misdemeanor convictions, the defendant is still required to register as a sex offender. Even though it may not be a lifetime requirement, such a registry can have a lasting effect on your life.

Felony convictions result in lifetime registration requirements under the sexual offender registration act. Any defendant required to register under this law must renew their registrations annually, within five days of their birthday. They are also required to report and update their registration every time they move.

Penalties for Similar and Associated Offenses

Keeping the previous penalties in mind, enhanced punishments may apply if you have been or will be convicted of any of the following similar or associated offenses:

PC 288 - lewd acts with a minor

If the minor was under fourteen years old, it is a felony and punished as follows:

  • Felony probation,
  • As much as ten thousand dollars in fines, and/or
  • 3, 6, or 8 years in state prison.

If the minor was fourteen or fifteen years old and the defendant was ten or more years older, it is a felony and punished as follows:

  • Fine of up to one thousand dollars, and
  • Up to one year in the county jail; OR
  • Fine of up to ten thousand dollars, and
  • 1, 2, or 3 years in state prison.

PC 288.2 - sending harmful material to a minor

Misdemeanor

  • Summary probation,
  • Maximum fines of one thousand dollars, and
  • Potentially up to six months in the county jail.

Felony

  • Formal probation,
  • Maximum fines of ten thousand dollars, and/or
  • 16 months, 2, or 3 years in state prison, and
  • Lifetime registration as a tier three sex offender.

California PC 311 - minor pornography;

Misdemeanor

  • Fines of up to two thousand five hundred dollars,
  • One year in the county jail, and
  • Lifelong requirement to register as a sex offender.

Felony

  • As much as one hundred thousand dollars,
  • 16 months to 8 years in state prison, and
  • Lifelong registration as a sex offender.

California PC 653b - loitering at a school

Misdemeanor

  • Up to one thousand dollars in fines, and
  • Up to six months in the county jail.

California PC 273d - minor abuse

Misdemeanor

  • Fines of up to six thousand dollars, and/or
  • Up to one year in the county jail.

Felony

  • Up to six thousand dollars in fines, and/or
  • 2, 4, or 6 years in a county jail.

California PC 261.5 - statutory rape;

Misdemeanor

  • Informal probation,
  • Fines of up to one thousand dollars, and/or
  • Up to one year in the county jail.

Felony

  • Informal or formal probation and/or up to one year in the county jail; or
  • 16 months, 2, or 3 years of county jail.

If the defendant was 21 or older and the alleged victim was under 16, the potential sentence is 2, 3, or 4 years in county jail.

Additional Consequences

Regardless of whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense under any of the Penal Code sections, other consequences will have an impact on your life. For instance, having a criminal record can affect future employment or college/university admissions.

Furthermore, having to register as sex offender under California’s Sex Registration Act, means buying or renting a home can be difficult. Many times, you will have to disclose this information, making it daunting to find a welcoming neighborhood.

Any fines you may have to pay to the court does not include any financial consequences from the alleged victim. This may include any medical fees or doctors’ bills the victim required as a result of your actions. For instance, you could be held responsible for paying for any counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist visits for the alleged victim. Also, being criminally charged by the state for this offense does not exclude you from possibly being sued in civil courts by the alleged victim for further damages.

Who Can Help

If you or someone you know is facing charges for PC 288.4 , soliciting or arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The penalties associated with this offense will have an impact on the rest of your life.

Finding the right legal defense does not have to be a hassle. If you are in the greater San Diego area, Los Angeles, or Orange County contact the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum. As a criminal defense lawyer, Attorney Yum has worked on a variety of successful cases. This includes circumstances involving extreme violence/felonious acts as well as misdemeanor and high-profile cases.

For more information on any of the aforementioned Penal Code sections, feel free to give us a call at 619-233-4433. We are here to help. Give our criminal defense attorney a call today for a free consultation.

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