Lewd Acts Involving Children Defense Lawyers in Los Angeles
When an individual is accused of performing “lewd acts” on a minor, it is an incredibly serious charge. The court of public opinion puts a stigma on the accused before a trial has even begun, and the penalties for these charges are some of the harshest in the state of California.
If you or a loved one is accused of committing lewd acts on an underage individual, there is no time to wait. A conviction can lead to fines, prison time, and lifetime as a registered sex offender. Here at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, we believe every person is innocent until proven guilty. Attorney Alan Jackson is currently representing Kevin Spacey, who is accused of sexually assaulting a busboy in 2016. At a pretrial hearing, Alan argued that state attorneys have hidden evidence in this groping case against his client. He has also requested the defendant's cell phone, in order to access allegedly deleted text messages. This case is ongoing, but we are confident that the truth will come out.
We will not let a misunderstanding or false accusation rob you of your freedom and good name. Call our office at (213) 688-0460 to set up a free consultation with a Los Angeles sex crime lawyer. We will go over the details of your case and see how we can help.
The crime of committing lewd acts on minors is outlined in California Penal Code 288. It is illegal for someone to willfully perform any wanton or sexually gratifying acts upon or with the body of a child under the age of 14, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the sexual desires of the accused or the child. Examples of lewd acts with a minor include:
- Touching a child’s genitals or anus under or over clothing.
- Fondling a young girl’s breasts under or over clothing.
- Kissing a minor on the lips or body.
- Oral copulation with a child.
- Compelling a child to undress or watch the accused undress.
If the prosecution believes they have proof that someone intentionally acted in an illicit or crude manner towards an underage person, they can charge that person with a felony. For the accused to be found guilty of acting in a sexually motivated manner toward a child, the prosecution must prove the following occurred:
- The accused acted in an intentional manner.
- The accused committed a crude or sexual act on the child.
- The minor in question was under the age of 14.
- The intent of the act was to arouse the accused or the minor in question in order to gratify one or both parties’ sexual desires.
If an individual is found guilty of these crimes, he or she can be imprisoned from three to eight years, fined up to $10,000, and become a registered sex offender.
If the accused is believed to have used force or fear to coerce a minor into taking part in or performing lewd acts, it can lead to greater penalties. For an individual to be convicted of these charges, the prosecution must prove that his or her actions met the legal definition of one of the following:
- Force- The accused restrained, incapacitated, hit, or threatened the child in order to commit lewd acts.
- Fear- A lewd act is accomplished by fear if the child is actually and reasonably afraid, or the child was unreasonably afraid and it is used to the accused’s advantage in order to perform a lewd act.
- Duress- The accused is found to have implied threat of force, violence, danger, hardship, or retribution to cause a reasonable individual to do, or submit to, something that he or she would not otherwise submit to.
- Menace- A threat, statement, or act showing an intent to injure someone.
If an individual is found guilty of using any type of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate physical harm against the child to commit any sexually-motivated lewd act, then the guilty party will be convicted of a felony and imprisoned for five to ten years, fined up to $10,000, and be registered as a sex offender.
If an individual is found guilty of performing a lewd act on a child under the age of 14, and it caused the victim bodily harm, the accused can face harsher sentencing. The California statutes regarding lewd acts in which a child is harmed include:
- Penal Code 667. 61(d)(7) - 25 years to life for personally inflicting bodily harm on a victim under 14.
- Penal Code 288(i) - Life sentence for personally inflicting bodily harm on a victim under 14.
- Penal Code 12022.8 - 5-year sentencing enhancement for infliction of great bodily injury.
If the accused is at least 10 years older than a victim aged 14 or 15, measured from both birthdays, then the accused will be charged with committing lewd acts with a minor. However, this is a wobbler crime, and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. For a misdemeanor, you face up to one year in county jail. For a felony, you can be imprisoned for one to three years.
If someone accuses you of an offensive or crude sexual act with a teenager, contact an attorney as soon as you can. Your lawyer can fight for you to be acquitted in court while pushing for you to receive a misdemeanor punishment if you are convicted.
Alleged lewd acts committed on minors who are 16 and 17 years old are charged under separate California penal codes. If an individual is charged with lewd acts on minors in this age range, he or she will be prosecuted under:
- Penal Code 261.5 PC – The statutory rape law, which qualifies when any person engages in sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 18, regardless if the sex was consensual or initiated by the minor. This is a wobbler charge and can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The circumstances of the case dictate the nature of the charge, and conviction can result in up to four years in prison and registration as a sex offender.
- Penal Code 243.4 PC – The sexual battery statute, which qualifies when an individual is suspected of touching the intimate parts of another person for purposes of sexual gratification, arousal, or abuse. A misdemeanor conviction carries a maximum prison sentence of six months to a year, registration as a sex offender, and a fine of up to $2,000. A felony conviction can lead to up to four years in prison, a maximum $10,000 fine, and registration as a sex offender.
Under federal law, child pornography is defined as visual depictions of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor – someone under the age of 18 years old. This includes photographs, videos, and digital images, including those that have been created or modified to depict or appear to depict a minor. The age of consent in your state does not matter – any depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving someone under the age of 18 is illegal.
The definition of "sexually explicit" does not mean the minor must be engaged in actual sexual activity. Images of a naked minor can be considered child pornography if they are seen to be sexually suggestive. In some instances, sexually explicit illustrations of children, even though no actual children were involved, can be considered child pornography.
The possession, production, and distribution of child pornography are all federal crimes, so they are often investigated and prosecuted at the federal level. This is especially true of any images that are accessed and downloaded over the Internet. Even if the website that was accessed is not in another state, or is in another country, federal jurisdiction applies.
However, you also face charges from the State of California when it comes to child pornography offenses – meaning you can be prosecuted at two levels. That is why it is so important to have a top criminal defense lawyer to represent you and make sure your rights are protected when you face any investigation involving child pornography.
If you accidentally come across child pornography on the Internet, it is important to report it immediately. You can report what you have found to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), and they will forward your report to law enforcement. You may also want to contact federal, state, or local law enforcement in addition to the NCMEC. If you are worried that they may investigate you for making such a report, then contact an experienced attorney to advise you on how to proceed.
There are collateral consequences that can influence an individual’s life long after the apparent penalties are over with. These consequences can include:
- Mandatory registration as a California sex offender.
- Potential restitution in the form of monetary compensation for the victim's medical or psychological treatment.
- The potential loss of a professional license, such as a license to practice law or medicine.
Being accused of a crime against children is one of the most serious charges you can face. While the general public may view an accusation as identical to a guilty verdict, our experienced legal professionals understand that false accusations, mistaken identity, and misunderstandings are common.
Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP has a proven track record of protecting clients from allegations like these. Mark Werksman defended a 29-year-old client who was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence awaiting him if found guilty. At the preliminary hearing, Mark was able to successfully get all charges dismissed. Mark Werksman also defended an El Monte schoolteacher falsely accused of molesting a sixth-grade student, who was facing significant jail time and a lifetime of registering as a sex offender. After a week-long trial, the jury found Mark's client not guilty after a 15-minute deliberation.
Do not let a misunderstanding or false accusation take away your freedom and ruin your reputation. Call (213) 688-0460 to set up your free initial consultation with a top Los Angeles child crimes attorney. Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP will put forward a solid defense on your behalf. Contact us as soon as possible to see how we can help.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.