WHAT MUST BE PROVEN TO CONVICT SOMEONE FOR ARRANGING A MEETING WITH A MINOR FOR LEWD PURPOSES UNDER PENAL CODE 288.4?
In order for the prosecutor to be able to convict a person for this sex crime they will have to be able to prove to a jury that the defendant knew that they were really dealing with a minor and were serious about meeting with them for sexual purposes.
There are a number of cases that I see filed where the prosecutors have a serious problem proving that the defendant really believed that the other party was a minor.
If the prosecutors can not prove this element then they will not be able to prove the case against the charged party. This issue is one of the key issues that I discuss with the client right from the beginning so we can make a solid decision from the beginning as to exactly what direction we will take.
Many times I see people going on 18 and over websites legitimately looking to hook up with a non-minor and the police luring them into doing something that they were not predisposed to do if they had their wits about them and the police were not trying to cajole them into doing something they would normally never do.
This is where your attorney comes in to fight for you and show the judge, prosecutor and a jury if necessary that you were either entrapped into becoming involved in the subject activities or that the prosecutor can not prove one of the essential elements necessary for a conviction for arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes.
It is not fair to a person that had no intent of meeting with a minor unless the police can clearly convince the jury of the person's purpose.
PROVING YOU KNEW YOU WERE DEALING WITH A MINOR
It must be shown that the person that the police arrest for this crime actually knew that they were going to end up meeting with a minor versus someone who is 18 years or older.
The way the police usually set these cases up is the begin the process of meeting with a person with the idea of them being an adult and then once they start to reel the fish in, they then flip the script and tell the person that they are a minor and still want to meet with them.
This puts the person in the awkward position of trying to figure out what to do or say next. They must assess whether the person is being serious and what their next move should be.
Of course, the perfect answer is to simply say that they are not interested in minors and can not deal with them anymore. Unfortunately people do not always handle this right, but that does not necessarily mean that they are guilty of this very serious crime. All of the circumstances must be taken into consideration, including why the person came on the site in the first place.
ACTUALLY MEETING THE PERSON WITH THE PURPOSE OF LEWD CONDUCT
In order to prove the sex crime of meeting with a minor for lewd purposes requires the prosecutors to prove that when the person is going to meet with the individual they believe is a minor they are going to do something lewd with that person.
This requires real specific language and no vague language where you can not tell exactly what is going to happen when the parties meet.
Sometimes the statements are not clear and when you combine that with the fact that we are usually able to prove that the client is talking to a police officer that is over the age of 18, the jury will start to scratch their heads as to whether this particular defendant deserves to be convicted of such a serious crime with out a clear understanding of what they knew and when they knew it.
AVOID HAVING TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER
Obviously this particular charge is taken very seriously by the prosecutors and they will try everything they can to get a conviction and try and force the defendant to register as a sex offender for the rest of their life. Sex offender registration is defined under Penal Code 290 PC.
In order to avoid this horrible result, the defendant must either be found not guilty or convince the prosecutors to let them plead guilty to another sex related offense that does not require them to register as a sex offender.
This type of result takes negotiating by their sex crime defense attorney that shows the prosecutor and judge that the defendant is not a sexual predator and will likely not become involved in this type of behavior again. It's important to retain a lawyer early in the sex crime case.
When it comes to avoiding a conviction for arranging to meet a minor for sexual purposes, it will require a psychiatrist who is familiar with these type of cases to test the defendant.
Also, to write a favorable report that indicates that they are not a threat to children or a threat to repeat this type of behavior and also character letters from people who know them to be of good character and who can speak to the unlikelihood of them doing this again.
If it can be shown that the person's behavior was an aberration, then they will have a fighting chance to avoid sex registration. As you might guess, the prosecutors and judges in these type of cases are ultra conservative when it comes to protecting the public in general and children in specific.
The final thing that it will take to successfully deal with a case where you are accused of arranging a meeting with a minor for some lewd purpose is to cast doubt on whether you were going to actually meet with the minor or whether you would have engaged in any sexual behavior with the subject minor.
If there are problems that can be pointed out to the prosecutor, then they may consider altering the charge for fear that they will lose the entire case.