Arranging a Meeting With Minor For Lewd Purposes

California Penal Code section 288.4(a)(1) addresses a serious sex crime involving minors. Specifically, section 288.4(a)(1) makes it a crime to arrange or plan to meet with a minor, or someone the defendant believes is a minor, with the intent to engage in lewd or lascivious conduct.

Proving a Violation of Section 288.4(a)(1) 

The prosecution must establish the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt: 

1) The defendant arranged or intended to meet with a minor, AND

2) The defendant had a specific intent to engage in lewd or lascivious conduct during the meeting.

It is notable that the statute does not require an actual meeting with a minor to establish guilt. Rather, the intent to meet with a minor for lewd purposes is sufficient for a charge.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony Violations

The severity of the charge depends on the defendant’s intent and prior criminal history.

Misdemeanor Violation: If the defendant intended to meet with a minor for lewd purposes but had no prior convictions for certain sex offenses, the offense is typically charged as a misdemeanor.

Felony Violation: If the defendant intended to meet with a minor for lewd purposes and has prior convictions for certain sex offenses, the offense is charged as a felony. Furthermore, if the defendant actually went to the arranged meeting place at the arranged meeting time, the defendant will be charged with a felony.

Potential Penalties 

For a misdemeanor, the defendant may be required to serve up to a year in county jail. For a felony, however, the defendant may be required to serve between 16 months and three years in state prison. Convictions of either a misdemeanor or a felony will also result in the imposition of fines and fees.

Mandatory Sex Offender Registration: Both misdemeanor and felony convictions carry the obligation to register as a sex offender. However, a misdemeanor conviction carries with it a 10-year registration requirement, whereas a felony conviction carries with it a mandatory lifetime registration period. A misdemeanor conviction is a much easier situation for a person to petition to be removed from the registry than a felony conviction.

Possible Defenses 

Lack of Intent: Arguing that the defendant did not possess the specific intent to engage in lewd conduct with a minor is a fundamental defense.  Demonstrating that the defendant's actions were misconstrued or misinterpreted can negate this element of the offense.

Entrapment: If law enforcement officials used undue pressure, coercion, or enticement to induce the defendant into arranging the meeting, an entrapment defense may apply.

Age Misrepresentation: If the defendant reasonably believed that the individual they were communicating with was an adult, this can be a strong defense.

Arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes, as defined by California Penal Code section 288.4(a)(1), is a serious offense with extremely significant consequences.  If you are charged with attempting to meet a minor for lewd purposes, it is absolutely imperative that you discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Michael Kraut has successfully defended clients against this crime, resulting in reduction of charges from a felony to a misdemeanor, which has serious effects in terms of lessening potential custody time and reducing time on the sex offender registry.

For more information about the criminal justice process, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at (888) 334-6344 or (323) 464-6453.

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