Lewd Acts With a Minor
If you touch a child for sexual purposes, you may be arrested for lewd and lascivious acts with a minor. Our criminal defense attorneys at Fakhimi & Associates knows the seriousness and gravity charges like these bring. We also understand the tremendous impact it can have on a client’s future.
The law does not require the touching be of a sexual nature nor does it require the touch to be done on bare skin; however, these facts may play a significant role at the time of conviction or sentencing.Is Lewd and Lascivious Acts with a Minor a Felony?
In California, lewd and lascivious acts with a minor is charged as a felony unless the victim had reached a certain age, usually 16 or 17. At that point, it becomes what’s known in California as a “wobbler.” This means the district attorney has the option of prosecuting a crime as a misdemeanor or a felony.What are the Penalties for Lascivious Acts with a Minor?
If the child was younger than 14 in the state of California:
- Up to 8 years in state prison, and a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law
- Up to 10 years in prison if force was used
- Up to 16 years if there is an established pattern of three or more incidents spanning a time of three months or longer
If the child was 14- or 15-years-old in the state of California (and the accused at least 10 years older than the child):
- Maximum 3 years in state prison
If the child was 16 or 17-years-old in the state of California:
- Prosecuted as statutory rape or sexual battery, which may be charged as either a misdemeanor (up to 1 year in jail) or felony (up to 3 years in prison)
A conviction on any one of these counts will also result in the lifelong requirement to register as a sex offender. This can preclude a person from living in certain locations, from working certain jobs or at certain clearances and can be very taxing on one’s new and existing personal relationships.
The one thing that many defendants rely on is a solid defense. Our criminal defense attorneys have represented clients who have faced these and similar charges. We are committed to working aggressively to help our clients. We are vehement in our efforts, and we know the long-term repercussions to one’s life, their reputation, and their future. Even in cases where the evidence is overwhelming – and that’s rarely the situation in these types of cases- there are a number of defenses that can serve to reduce the penalty.How are Lewd and Lascivious Acts with a Minor Cases Prosecuted?
Law enforcement and district attorneys dedicate considerable time and resources to prosecuting child molestation crimes because it is considered by society to be among the most heinous of offenses. That does not mean every case they bring forward will be a strong one, nor does it mean everyone charged with these crimes are guilty and certainly not before they’ve had their day in court.
Especially when the alleged victim is still a child, investigators must be extremely careful about how they ask for information from the child about what happened. In abuse that was very recent, police can swab victim’s body, clothing or the location of the alleged acts. They will be looking for defendant’s DNA (semen, especially) in locations where it should not be (i.e., underwear, mattress, skin, etc.).Police Will Then Conduct a Search for Other Victims
Interrogation of the suspect typically will not happen until this point. If you have any suspicion that you are under investigation, call our Orange County sexual assault defense attorneys today. You do not want to give police any opportunity to obtain information from you that could harm your defense.
Following an arrest based on probable cause, the case will be forwarded to the district attorneys’ office, and prosecutors will then decide whether to file formal charges.
In order to secure a conviction on this charge, a California prosecutor will need to show:
- Defendant willfully and lewdly touched any part of a child’s body or willfully caused the child to touch defendant’s body or someone else’s body;
- Defendant committed this action for the purpose of arousing, appealing to or gratifying his or her sexual desires or the sexual desires of the child;
- Victim was a minor at the time of the alleged acts.
- Harsher sentences are applied in the event force, duress, violence or fear were used to carry out the offense.
Prosecutors do not have to show defendant was actually aroused by the acts, only that the intent was arousal. However, this can be a tough element to prove, especially if the interactions involved weren’t overtly sexual or did not involve the sex organs.What are the Legal Defenses for Lewd and Lascivious Crimes Against Minors
One of the first things attorneys will analyze is the credibility of the accuser. This is especially important in cases where the defendant has not confessed, and physical evidence is scant or non-existent. It means the entire case depends on the credibility of the child.
Many times, we uncover the child has a history of dishonesty. In some situations, it becomes apparent the accuser has some reason to want to hurt the accused (i.e., a stepchild upset over a harsh punishment), or that someone else close to the child has motive for that (i.e., a soon-to-be divorced ex-wife or the child’s mother to whom accused was unfaithful).
We will examine the nature of the allegations. If the touching was unintentional or not meant to arouse, it’s unlikely to qualify as lewd and lascivious acts with a minor per California statutes.
Finally, we will seek to discredit physical evidence, or underscore the fact that there isn’t any. This is often the case in older alleged crimes. It becomes he-said-she-said, and that fact isn’t lost on jurors.
In situations where the defendant has confessed to the alleged action, and there is strong evidence to support guilt, our tactic then becomes arguing for probation and mitigation. We present evidence that the act was out-of-character, isolated and is not likely to occur ever again. In these cases, we will argue for probation and rehabilitation over incarceration.
We encourage anyone concerned about facing these or other sexual crimes to contact our Riverside & Orange County criminal defense offices today.