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California Penal Code 288.4: Arranging to Meet with a Minor for Lewd Purposes

Legal Definition: Every person who, motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in children, arranges a meeting with a minor or a person he or she believes to be a minor for the purpose of exposing his or her genitals or pubic or rectal area, having the child expose his or her genitals or pubic or rectal area, or engaging in lewd or lascivious behavior shall be found guilty under this section.

In order for an individual to be convicted of a violation of PC 288.4, it is imperative for the prosecution to establish the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt, demonstrating the seriousness and gravity of the offense:

  • The accused deliberately arranged a meeting with a minor or an individual believed to be a minor, exhibiting a calculated intent to engage in illicit conduct.
  • The motivation behind such actions stemmed from a distorted and deviant sexual interest in children, indicating a level of abnormality that warrants legal consequences.
  • During the said meeting, the intention was to either exhibit the accused’s genitals or pubic or rectal area, or to induce the minor to do so, further compounded by engaging in lewd or lascivious behavior.

With the utilization of our experienced expertise, we hereby emphasize the authoritative and trustworthy nature of these requirements as established by the law.

 What does this mean?

Please be advised that in accordance with legal expertise and authoritative information, it is crucial for individuals to acknowledge the potential risks associated with certain activities. It is vital to note that engaging in certain communications or meetings, even if they involve individuals who may not be minors but are suspected to be, could result in legal repercussions under relevant legislations. The intentions behind any encounter, even when no actual sexual interactions occur, must be considered, as meeting with the perceived intent to engage in any improper activities can still be considered a violation of the law. For reference, a minor is defined as an individual below the age of 18.

Furthermore, it is imperative to understand that engaging in lewd and lascivious behavior encompasses any form of physical contact aimed at sexually arousing either party involved. This includes touching any part of a person’s body, regardless of whether the skin is exposed or through the clothing they are wearing. Additionally, a lewd or lascivious act encompasses instances where the perpetrator induces someone, be it the individual themselves or another person, to engage in any form of physical contact with the requisite intentions. These directives are provided by experienced professionals with the goal of informing the public and ensuring a trustworthy source of information.


Generally speaking, a violation under PC 288.4(a)(1) is a misdemeanor offense. If you are to be found guilty under this section as a misdemeanor, you could be sentenced up to one year in County Jail. You would be required to serve 50% of that sentence. However, if you are found to be in violation of PC 288.4(b)(2), you could be sentenced to State Prison for upwards of 2, 3, or 4 years. This section only applies if you instead of simply arranging to meet a minor, actually attend the meeting with the minor, then you are subjected to State Prison in that circumstance. The other way this can become a felony offense under PC 288.4(b)(1) is if you have a prior sex crime that has required you to register with Local Law Enforcement as a Sex Offender under PC 290. If you fall under this section category of being a prior Registered Sex Offender, you could be sentenced to upwards of 16 months, 2 or 3 years in State Prison.

In some PC 288.4(a)(1) cases, you may be able to avoid jail entirely and instead serve an alternative sentence. Alternative sentences include work release, which is commonly known as Community Service, or electronic monitoring, also known as House Arrest.

In addition to the above, there is a requirement that you will be forced to Register as a Sex Offender for at least 10 years as a Tier I Sex Offender whether the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony. The crime of arranging to meet a minor under PC 288.4 is not considered a “strike” under California Three Strikes Law. It is also not considered a crime of moral turpitude. However, given the nature of this offense, you are generally subjected to heavy fines and fees in the form of restitution to the victim. This can include medical or therapy expenses, as well as fines of upwards of $10,000.

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Mistake of Fact
  4. Entrapment
  5. False Accusations
  6. Coerced Confessions

Entrapment occurs when a law enforcement officer exhibits excessive control, prompting you to engage in behavior you otherwise wouldn’t. Consider Sting Operations, where the adult predominantly initiates contact with the minor, manipulates the conversation, and orchestrates the meeting to their advantage. Nevertheless, there may be situations where the minor, or in this case the police, actively seeks to arrange a meeting. The intent behind this conduct is beyond mere requests; it involves exaggerated and unmistakable pressure from Law Enforcement to facilitate the encounter. Conversely, had it not been for their overbearing tactics, you would have never contemplated meeting with a minor.

Furthermore, additional defenses exist if the purpose of the meeting is purely innocuous and devoid of any lewd intentions. Clues can be inferred from the conversation itself, such as the absence of discussions regarding sexual acts, previous sexual encounters, or any flirtatious and sexually suggestive exchanges. It is completely legal for an adult and minor to meet, develop a friendship, and engage in lawful activities. Only when a lewd or lascivious act is proposed or discussed in advance does it constitute a criminal offense.

Rest assured, our expertise and authority in this matter ensures that you are receiving accurate, reliable information.

 Call Today

Facing allegations of a sex crime, especially under PC 288.4, is an intensely challenging ordeal that demands an attorney well-versed in both the nuances of the law and the sensitive nature of the charges. At Inland Empire Criminal Defense, our seasoned PC 288.4 Ontario criminal defense attorney is adept at navigating the complexities of such cases. Our commendable track record showcases our dedication to upholding our clients’ rights and preserving their reputation.

When charged under PC 288.4, various defenses arise to challenge the prosecution’s stance. From contesting the foundational elements of intent to raising the possibility of entrapment or emphasizing unawareness of the alleged minor’s age, our strategy is comprehensive and rooted in exhaustive legal research.

However, it’s vital to be aware of the profound implications of a sex crime conviction. Even if certain defenses are valid, a successful prosecution could mandate a ten-year sex offender registration. The aftershocks of this designation extend far beyond the sentence served, affecting personal and professional spheres for years to come.

To help navigate this challenging legal landscape, we offer a complimentary initial consultation, providing a platform for understanding, clarity, and charting the best way forward. Our dedicated team remains accessible 24/7 for any queries or concerns you might have. Reach out to Inland Empire Criminal Defense today at 909-281-0465. Your future deserves robust, experienced, and empathetic legal representation.

Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor should it be considered the formation of a lawyer or attorney-client relationship. If you would like to find out more information about your particular legal matter, contact our office for a consultation.

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