Review of California Penal Code 288.4 PC
For the prosecutor to convict a person for this sex crime, they will have to prove to a jury that the defendant knew that they were dealing with a minor and were serious about meeting with them for sexual purposes.
I see several cases filed where the prosecutors have a severe problem proving that the defendant believed the other party was a minor.
If the prosecutors can not prove this element, they will not prove the case against the charged party. This issue is one of the critical issues that I discuss with the client right from the beginning so we can decide 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 persuade them into doing something they would usually 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 required for a conviction for arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes.
It is not fair to a person that had no intention of meeting with a minor unless the police can convince the jury of the person's purpose.
It Must Be Proven You Knew They Were a Minor
It must be shown that the police arrested for this crime knew that they would 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 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 figuring out what to do or say next. They must assess whether the person is 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 they are guilty of this grave crime. All of the circumstances must be considered, including why the person came to the site in the first place.
What About Actually Meeting the Person?
To prove the sex crime of meeting with a minor for lewd purposes requires the prosecutors to prove that when the person meets with the individual they believe is a minor, they will do something nasty with that person.
This requires real specific language and no vague language where you can not tell precisely what will 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 severe crime without a clear understanding of what they knew and when they knew it.
How Can You Avoid Sex Offender Registration?
This particular charge is taken very seriously by the prosecutors. 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.
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 essential 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, a psychiatrist familiar with these cases tests the defendant.
Also, to write a favorable report indicating that they are not a threat to children or a threat to repeat this type of behavior and 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 cases are ultra-conservative when 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 meet with the little or whether you would have engaged in any sexual behavior with the subject minor. If problems can be pointed out to the prosecutor, they may consider altering the charge for fear that they will lose the entire case.