Penal Code 288i PC - Lewd Act with a Minor Child, Bodily Harm Inflicted

Penal Code 288i PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to:

  1. commit a lewd act on a minor child under the age of 14, and
  2. inflict bodily harm on the victim in doing so.

Under Penal Code 288, a lewd act with a minor is either:

  • touching a child for sexual purposes, or
  • causing a child to touch him/herself or someone else for a sexual purpose.

Examples of illegal acts under PC 288i include:

  • Joseph, age 20, hits Ben, age 6, in the face, after Ben starts to struggle once Joseph puts his hands down his pants.
  • after Nia, age 13, refuses to continue to touch her breasts for Michael, Michael puts a cigarette out on her.
  • Jose, age 31, bites Sofia, age 12, in the neck after she tries to break free when Jose touches her genitals.

Defenses

Luckily, there are several legal defenses that a person can raise if accused under this code section. These include showing that:

  • the alleged victim is lying,
  • the touching was accidental, and
  • the defendant was arrested after a coerced confession.

Penalties

Lewd acts with a minor child, with bodily harm inflicted, are charged as a felony under California law (as opposed to a misdemeanor or an infraction).

The crime is punishable by imprisonment in the California state prison for life with the possibility of parole.

In addition, a person guilty of this crime must register as a California sex offender for the rest of his life.

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

child abuse teddy bear
Penal Code 288(i) PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to: commit a lewd act on a minor child under the age of 14, and inflict bodily harm on the victim in doing so.

1. What is the legal definition of lewd acts with a minor child, with bodily harm inflicted?

Penal Code 288i PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to:

  1. commit a lewd act on a minor child under 14 years of age, and
  2. inflict bodily harm on the victim in doing so.1

California Penal Code 288(a) defines a “lewd act with a minor” as:

  • any “lewd or lascivious act” made willfully,
  • upon the body of a child under 14, and
  • made with the intent of arousing or gratifying the lust of either:
  • the perpetrator,
  • the child, and/or

- another person.2

A “lewd act” includes:

  • touching a child for sexual purposes, or
  • causing a child to touch him/herself or someone else for a sexual purpose.3

Please note that a person must act “willfully” to be guilty under PC 288(i). Someone commits an act willfully if he or she does it on purpose.

According to Penal Code 288(i)(3), “bodily harm” means any substantial injury resulting from the use of force that is more than the force necessary to commit the offense.4 Whether or not a victim suffers from “bodily harm” will be determined by the facts of a particular case.

2. Legal Defenses

A person can challenge accusations by raising a legal defense. A legal defense may work to reduce or even dismiss a charge.

Three common defenses include:

  1. the alleged victim is lying,
  2. the touching was accidental, and/or
  3. coerced confession.

2.1. Victim is lying

In many of these types of cases, the prosecutor's case hinges largely on the testimony of the victim. It is always a strong defense, therefore, if the accused can show that the victim was lying, or exaggerated the truth, when he/she reported the offense. This defense works especially well when:

  • the defendant did not confess to anything, and
  • there is no physical corroboration.

2.2. Touching was accidental

Please recall that a person can only be guilty under PC 288i if he willfully made a lewd act, or a touching. This means it is a valid legal defense for a defendant to show that his touching was not made willfully but was rather made on accident. An accidental touching does not rise to the level of a purposeful lewd act.

2.3. Coerced confession

This defense applies to the situation where a defendant was charged under PC 288i following a confession.

California law states that police may not use overbearing measures to coerce a confession.

If a party can show that the police coerced him into a confession, then:

  1. the judge may exclude the confession from evidence; or,
  2. the case could get dropped altogether if the party got pressured into confessing to a crime he didn't commit.
man behind bars
A violation of PC 288(i) is punishable by imprisonment in the California state prison for life with the possibility of parole.

3. Penalties, punishment, and sentencing

A violation of Penal Code 288i is charged as a felony under California law. The crime is punishable by imprisonment in the California state prison for life with the possibility of parole.5

Note that in lieu of prison time, a judge may order a defendant to felony (or formal) probation.

Please also note that in addition to prison time, a person convicted will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.6

4. Related offenses

There are three laws related to lewd acts with a minor child, bodily harm inflicted. These are:

  1. lewd acts on a minor child with no force – PC 288(a);
  2. lewd acts on a minor child and force used – PC 288(b)(1); and,
  3. lewd act with force by caretaker of a dependent person – PC 288(b)(2).

4.1. Lewd acts on a minor child with no force – PC 288(a)

Penal Code 288(a) is the California statute that defines the crime of “lewd acts with a minor child.”

In order to prove that an accused is guilty under Penal Code 288(a), a prosecutor must show that:

  1. the defendant willfully committed a lewd or lascivious act,
  2. he committed the act on a child under the age of 14, and
  3. he did so with the intent of arousing the sexual desires of himself or the child.7

A defendant will be charged under PC 288(a) when he did not use any force when committing the lewd act. If force was used, then he would be charged under PC 288(b)(1).

A violation of PC 288(a) is charged as a felony. The crime is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for:

  1. three years,
  2. six years, or
  3. eight years.8

A person guilty under this code section must also register as a sex offender for 20 years.

4.2. Lewd acts on a minor child and force used – PC 288(b)(1)

A party is guilty under California Penal Code 288(b)(1) when:

  • he commits a lewd act under PC 288(a) (see 4.1 above), and
  • in doing so, he uses force or violence.9

A violation of PC 288(b)(1) is charged as a felony. The crime is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for:

  1. five years,
  2. eight years, or
  3. 10 years.10

A person guilty under this code section must also register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

4.3. Lewd act with force by caretaker of a dependent person – PC 288(b)(2)

A party is guilty under California Penal Code 288(b)(2) PC when:

  • he is the caretaker of a dependent person (e.g., a physically impaired person aged 65 or older), and
  • he commits a lewd act on that person.11

A violation of PC 288(b)(2) is charged as a felony. The crime is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for:

  1. five years,
  2. eight years, or
  3. 10 years.12

A person guilty under this code section must also register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Were you accused of committing a lewd act on a minor child and bodily harm was inflicted? Call us for help…

california child abuse legal defense
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime, per Penal Code 288i PC, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.


Legal References:

  1. California Penal Code 288i PC. According to California Penal Code 288(a), “Except as provided in subdivision (i), a person who willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act, including any of the acts constituting other crimes provided for in Part 1, upon or with the body, or any part or member thereof, of a child who is under the age of 14 years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person or the child, is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.”

    California Penal Code 288(i)(1) PC states: “A person convicted of a violation of subdivision (a) shall be imprisoned in the state prison for life with the possibility of parole if the defendant personally inflicted bodily harm upon the victim.”

  2. California Penal Code 288(a) PC.

  3. See same.

  4. California Penal Code 288(i)(3) PC.

  5. California Penal Code 288(i)(1) PC.

  6. California Penal Code 290 PC.

  7. California Penal Code 288(a) PC.

  8. See same.

  9. California Penal Code 288(b)(1) PC.

  10. See same.

  11. California Penal Code 288(b)(2) PC.

  12. See same.

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