Defining Sexual Gratification in a Lewd Acts with a Minor Case (PC 288)
When California prosecutors charge someone with a crime, they must be able to prove that the person’s actions meet all of the elements of the crime. If you are charged with committing a lewd act with a child under the age of 14 under California Penal Code Section 288, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the facts of your case meet the following elements:
- You touched, on purpose, a child’s body either on the bare skin or through the clothing; OR
- You caused, on purpose, the child to touch their own body, your body, or someone else’s body, either on the bare skin or through clothing; AND
- You committed the act with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of yourself or the child; AND
- The child was under the age of 14 years at the time of the touching.
The Element of Sexual Gratification
Sometimes the best defense is to focus on the third element listed above and the sexual gratification meaning outlined in California law. You see, the prosecution must prove that when you touched the child, you did so with the intent to arouse, appeal to, or gratify the sexual passions, lust, or desires of yourself or the child.
The reason that the sexual gratification element and its meaning is such an essential element in lewd acts cases is that it protects you from punishment for touches that were innocent or accidental. In fact, the sexual gratification element of a lewd acts case with a minor in California is usually difficult for the prosecution to prove.
California courts have been clear that a person cannot be guilty of violating PC 288 without having the intent to satisfy a sexual desire. As the Court of Appeals stated in People v. Gray (2011), “For the offense of lewd acts on a child under 14, the controlling factor is the purpose of the perpetrator in touching the child, and each case is to be examined in the light of the intent with which the act was done; if the intent of the act, although it may have the outward appearance of innocence, is to arouse the lust, the passion or the sexual desire of the perpetrator or the child, it stands condemned by the statute.”
The Difference Between Intent To Gratify And Actual Sexual Gratification
It is important to note that the prosecution does not need to prove that you or the minor experienced sexual gratification from the lewd act. It is enough to convict you of this crime if it was merely your intent to achieve sexual gratification for yourself, the minor, or both by committing the act.
How Does the Prosecutor Prove Intent in Achieving Sexual Gratification?
No person can know what is going through another person’s mind. Therefore, the evidence of intent is generally found by looking at the events before and after the touching. For example, if you touched a minor and immediately withdrew from contact with the minor’s body, that may show that you made contact with the minor’s body accidentally and not with the intent of sexual gratification.
However, if the evidence shows you did not withdraw from the contact or asked the minor whether or not they enjoyed the touching, that could indicate that you intended to arouse or satisfy either your own sexual desires, those of the minor, or both.
Let the California Sex Crime Defense Attorneys At Wallin & Klarich Help You Now
Having the right attorney at your side can make a tremendous difference if you are charged with committing a lewd act with a minor. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney who can defeat the prosecution’s claim that you sought sexual gratification when you made contact with the child.
At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have successfully defended clients like you in these cases for over 40 years. Our experienced team will use its knowledge and skill to help you obtain the best possible outcome in your case.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance, and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich child molestation attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (619) 305-0829 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.