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California Penal Code 288

Lewd or Lascivious Acts with a Minor

California Penal Code 288 states that it is illegal to engage in lewd or lascivious acts with a minor. Lewd or Lascivious acts refer to acts that are indecent and for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification. This charge is also commonly referred to as “child molestation”.

Penal Code 288(a) -

Lewd or Lascivious Acts with a Minor under 14

Child molestation is a serious offense that can have life-altering consequences – both personally and professionally. California Penal Code section 288 (a) (“PC 288a”) is the statute that defines the crime and penalties of lewd or lascivious acts upon a minor who is under the age of 14.

You will be accused of violating Penal Code 288 (a) if the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

1a. You lewdly touched a child’s body, either through the child’s clothes or bare skin


1b: You caused the child to touch his or her body, your body, or someone else’s body either through clothes or bare skin.


  1. You willfully committed the act with the intention of sexual arousal.
  2. The child was under the age of 14 at the time of the act.

This means that at a trial, if the jury finds any reasonable doubt that the touching did not happen or that the defendant did not commit the act with the intention sexual arousal, then the defendant will be found “not guilty”. You will also be found “not guilty” of this charge if the accuser is not under the age of 14. However, it is possible that the defendant be charged with a different sex crime, such as statutory rape or sexual battery, if this is the only defense. Also, the prosecution must prove that the defendant acted willfully, so if there is any reasonable doubt as to this element, it should also result in a “not guilty” verdict.

Generally, a lewd or lascivious act involving minors refers to PC 288(a). However, there are other subsections of PC 288 that outlines different forms of lewd or lascivious acts against minors. The penalties of these two subsections vary from PC 288(a).  These subsections include PC 288 (b) and PC 288 (c).