Contacting a Minor to Commit a Felony – Penal Code 288.3 PC
California Penal Code 288.3 PC defines the crime of contacting a minor, or attempting to do so, when you know they are a minor and have the intent to commit a sex crime or other serious felony offense involving a minor.
Put simply, you can be arrested, charged, and convicted of a felony case of PC 288.3 without having any type of actual physical contact, or even commit any type of act, with the minor in question.
This means that under the provisions of this statute, you can face harsh penalties if you just intended to a commit a sex crime with a minor.
PC 288.3 is considered an “attempted crime” under California law, that means penalties will apply if you take a direct step to commit an offense.
This law was enacted as part of California Proposition 83 in 2006, known as Jessica's Law and the “Sexual Predator Punishment and Control Act.”
This statute gives law enforcement a powerful tool to apprehend sexual predators before they commit a sexual act with a minor. They will frequently set up an online police sting and pose as a minor in chat rooms.
For more information, our sex crime defense attorneys are reviewing the law below.
What is the Definition of This Statute?
It's a felony offense under PC 288.3 to communicate with a minor under 18 years old when you have the intent to commit a felony offense, or a sexual related crime against the minor.
Penal Code 288.3 PC is legally defined as the following:
- “anyone who contacts or communicates with a minor, or attempts to make contact, who should have reasonably known they are a minor, with the intent to commit a specific crime that involves the minor.”
Put simply, in order to be charged with the crime of contacting a minor to commit a felony, you must have known the person you were contacting was a minor.
Readers should note that to “contact” or “communicate” under the context of this statute means not just person-to-person, but also includes phone, email, text messages, or other forms of electronic communication.
The primary factor in prosecuting this sex crime is the “attempt' to communicate with someone under 18 and actually knowing they were a minor.
What are the Underlying Crimes?
It should be noted that a prosecutor can't convicted you of PC 288.3 contacting a minor to commit a felony charge unless it can be proven you had the intent to commit certain underlying felony offenses, such as:
- Penal Code 207 PC – kidnapping,
- Penal Code 209 PC - kidnapping for ransom,
- Penal Code 261 PC – rape,
- Penal Code 273a PC - child endangerment,
- Penal Code 286 PC - sodomy,
- Penal Code 288.2 PC - sending harmful matter to minor,
- Penal Code 288 PC - lewd acts with a child under 14,
- Penal Code 289 PC - sexual penetration with foreign object,
- Penal Code 287 PC - oral copulation with minor,
- Penal Code 311 PC – child pornography.
As noted, in most cases, people are caught for violating PC 288.3 because they were communicating with law enforcement who were conduct a police sting operation online.
What are the Penalties for PC 288.3 Conviction?
A conviction for violating Penal Code 288.3 is punishable as a felony crime. The exact felony penalties will depend what crime you intended to commit.
Put simply, punishments will be determined by the underlying offense. For example:
- if you are over 21 and accused of making contact with a 16-year-old with intent to have oral copulation, Penal Code 287, the penalties you will face will be the same as if you actually violated this statute, which is up to 3 years in prison for a felony and a fine up to $10,000.
Further, if you violate Penal Code 288.3 more than a single time, then you can receive an additional 5 years in prison for each conviction.
A conviction for contacting a minor to commit a felony will require to sex offender registration in California under Penal Code 290 PC.
Typically, you will be required to register as a tier-three sex offender, that means sex registration for life.
What Will Happen If I'm Charged with Penal Code Section 288.3?
Those individuals who are charged with this particular sex crime are facing serious consequences.
They could potentially have to register as a sex offender for the rest of their life, depending on exactly what the prosecutors charge.
They could be facing state prison. They could be facing going on the Meghan's Law website and a host of other bad factors.
If you or a loved one is charged with Penal Code Section 288.3, this means the government is claiming that you have engaged in some sort of contact with a minor.
That you were trying to meet with a minor, or some sort of sex crime allegation. You should pick up the phone immediately, make a phone call. Let's sit down and talk about it.
Really, what I'm trying to do is help people. Sometimes people get involved in things that they never should get involved in, for various reasons.
Maybe they're having a bad time with their family or their health. Maybe they've taken some sort of substance that has caused them to do things that they normally wouldn't do.
Criminal Defense for Contacting a Minor Cases Cases
Whatever the case may be, it's crucial that you get an attorney right away. That's your best offense against these types of crimes. And sometimes you do have to take an offensive approach.
It could be a strategic offensive approach, but if you don't defend yourself, you have been charged with the type of offense that can land you in prison and really destroy your life in a lot of ways.
To fight a Penal Code 288.3 cases, our criminal defense attorneys could use different strategies, such as:
Lack of intent to commit a felony – Prosecution has to prove your contact with the minor was to commit a specific sex crime that is listed above. Just because you may have made contact with a minor, does not mean you had intent to engage in sexual related activity.
You didn't know you contacted a minor – Perhaps you had a reasonable belief the person you were contacting was an adult. Recall the prosecutor has to show you knew, or should have known, they were a minor. Perhaps the alleged victim lied and posted a picture making them look older.
Entrapment by police – As noted, police officers will frequently pose as minors online in a “sting” to catch violators who make contact with minor. They will often use overly aggressive techniques like pressure, harassing, fraud or even threats to persuade somebody to commit a crime they would have otherwise not committed.
I've been handling these cases now for the almost three decades. So, you've definitely come to the right place. I will listen to what you have to say.
I will hear you and I will start a defense investigation and a defense strategy on your behalf because I know for sure, having done this so long, that the police and prosecutors are not looking at your side of the equation. They are only looking at one thing and that is conviction and punishment.
It might be possible to negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges or even get the case dismissed. Through prefiling intervention, we may be able to avoid the formal filing of charges before court, known as a “DA Reject.”
So, pick up the phone now. Make the call. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you.
Hedding Law Firm is based in LA County with two office locations, including 2049 Century Park E #2525 Los Angeles, CA 90067.
Contact our office for a confidential consultation at (213) 542-0979, or you can complete the contact form.