Lewd or Lascivious Acts Lewd or lascivious acts (meaning acts that are sexual in nature) are generally prosecuted as felony sex crimes in California, under California’s Penal Code 288. Persons convicted of this offense typically face years in prison, a heavy fine and mandatory registration as a sex offender, pursuant to California’s Penal Code 290.
Anyone who willfully commits any lewd or lascivious act against a child under 14 (whether or not force or threats are used), with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person or the child, will be charged with a felony, punishable by three, six or eight years in state prison. The sentence will be the same for anyone who is a caretaker for another and who commits lewd or lascivious acts by force, violence or threats against the dependant person, with the above-described sexual intent.
A “dependant person” is someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially restricts his or her ability to carry out normal activities or to protect his or her rights, and includes anyone who is admitted as a patient to a 24-hour mental health facility. It should be noted that the law doesn’t apply to a spouse or significant other caring for a dependent.
In addition to the stated prison sentences, the defendant faces a fine of up to $10,000, which may be imposed based on the circumstances of the offense. In determining whether to issue a fine and in determining how much to fine the accused, the court will consider the seriousness and gravity of the offense, whether the accused financially profited from the offense, and the extent (if any) to which the alleged victim suffered an economic loss as a result of the offense. A person convicted of committing a lewd or lascivious act against a child under 14 will also be prohibited from having his or her sentence suspended until the court obtains a report from a reputable psychiatrist or psychologist. It should be noted that a reasonable mistake of age will not serve as a defense to this charge.
Anyone who commits a lewd or lascivious act against a child who is 14 or 15 years of age and who is at least 10 years younger than the accused will be charged with a felony, punishable by one, two or three years in state prison, or with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in county jail. The charge and sentence will be the same for a caretaker who commits such an act upon a dependant even without using force, violence or threats. Regardless of the circumstances of the offense, an individual convicted of lewd or lascivious acts under California’s Penal Code 288 will be required to register as a sex offender in accordance with Penal Code 290. Registration is, perhaps, one of the most devastating penalties that may be imposed in connection with a sex crime, as the social stigma and lifestyle restrictions that it places upon an individual can be dramatically life-changing.