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Contact a Minor to Commit a Felony

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 actual physical contact or even committing any act with the minor in question. You do not have to do anything illegal with them to be convicted. 

This means that under the provisions of this statute, you can face harsh penalties if you just intend to commit a sex crime with a minor. Regardless of the underlying offense, a conviction for contacting a minor with intent to commit a felony means you will be required to register as a sex offender in California.

Simply put, a conviction for contacting a minor to commit a felony will require sex offender registration in California under Penal Code 290 PC. Typically, you will be required to register as a tier-three sex offender, which means sex registration for life.  

PC 288.3 is considered an “attempted crime” under California law, which 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 committing a sexual act with a minor. They will frequently set up an online police sting and pose as a minor in chat rooms. Those individuals charged with this particular sex crime face 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 face going on the Meghan's Law website and many other harmful 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 contact with a minor. If you were trying to meet with a minor or some sex crime allegation, you should pick up the phone immediately and make a phone call. Let's sit down and talk about it.

What I'm trying to do is help people. Sometimes, people get involved in things they never should for various reasons. Maybe they're having a wrong time with their family or their health. Perhaps they've taken some substance that has caused them to do things they usually wouldn't do.

Whatever the case may be, you must 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.

What is the Legal Definition of PC 288.3?

It's a felony offense under PC 288.3 to communicate with a minor under 18 years old when you intend to commit a felony offense or a sexually related crime against the minor.

Penal Code 288 PC - Lewd Acts with a Minor

Penal Code 288.3 PC says, "(a) Every person who contacts or communicates with a minor, or attempts to contact or communicate with a minor, who knows or reasonably should know that the person is a minor, with intent to commit an offense specified in Section 207, 209, 261, 264.1, 273a, 286, 287, 288, 288.2, 289, 311.1, 311.2, 311.4 or 311.11, or former Section 288a, involving the minor shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for the term prescribed for an attempt to commit the intended offense.

(b) As used in this section, “contacts or communicates with” shall include direct and indirect contact or communication that may be achieved personally or by use of an agent or agency, any print medium, any postal service, a common carrier or communication common carrier, any electronic communications system, or any telecommunications, wire, computer, or radio communications device or system.

(c) A person convicted of a violation of subdivision (a) who has previously been convicted of a violation of subdivision (a) shall be punished by an additional and consecutive term of imprisonment in the state prison for five years."

What Factors Must Be Proven for a Conviction?

To convict you of PC 288.3 contacting a minor with intent to commit a felony, the prosecutor must prove all the "elements of the crime" beyond a reasonable doubt, including the following: 

  • You directly or indirectly contacted or communicated with a minor under 18 or attempted to,
  • You intended to commit one of the crimes involving a minor listed in Penal Code 288.3 PC,  
  • You knew or reasonably should have known they were a minor under the age of 18,

Put simply, to be charged with the crime of contacting a minor to commit a felony, you must have known the person you were getting 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 (social media). The primary factor in prosecuting this sex crime is the “attempt" to communicate with someone under 18 and know they were minors.

Notably, this law is frequently enforced through sting operations involving undercover police officers on the internet pretending to be minors. This means many defendants only communicated with someone they believed was a minor. 

What are the Underlying Crimes?

It should be noted that a prosecutor can't convict 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 is moving someone a substantial distance without their consent and by use of force or fear, but could be committed without the use of force if the victim is under the age of 14, use of false promises, and the kidnapping was done to commit a sex crime.
  • Penal Code 261 PCrape is sexual intercourse with someone without consent. It can be accomplished using force, fear, coercion, threats, or the victim is unable to consent due to intoxication or a mental or physical disability.
  • Penal Code 273a PC - child endangerment is defined as causing, permitting, or inflicting unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering on a child.
  • Penal Code 286 PC - sodomy is forcing someone to engage in anal sex without their consent or engaging in sodomy with a minor.
  • Penal Code 288.2 PC - sending harmful matter to minors is sending “obscene” material to anyone under 18 with the intent to arouse yourself or them sexually and to engage in sexual activity with the minor 
  • Penal Code 288 PC - lewd acts with a child under 14 is touching a minor under the age of 14 anywhere on their body for sexual purposes. 
  • Penal Code 289 PC - sexual penetration with a foreign object is nonconsensual sexual penetration with a foreign object through force, violence, duress, fear, or threats or consensual sexual penetration with a minor under the age of 18. 
  • Penal Code 287 PC - oral copulation with a minor is non-consensual oral copulation by force or fear or consensual oral sex with a minor.
  • Penal Code 311 PCchild pornography is sending, transporting, producing, possessing, or duplicating any child pornography with intent to distribute it. It also includes Penal Code 311.4 PC hiring, employing, using, persuading, or coercing a minor to participate in the production of child porn;

What are the Penalties for PC 288.3 Conviction?

A conviction for violating Penal Code 288.3 is punishable as a felony crime. The penalty for contacting a minor with intent to commit a felony is the same as the penalty for the underlying offense. Put simply, the underlying offense will determine punishments.

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 violated this statute, which is up to 3 years in prison for a felony and a fine up to $10,000.

In most cases, PC 288.3 contacting a minor to commit a felony is charged as a felony crime with the possible following penalties: 

  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Sentenced to a California state prison,
  • Formal felony probation, 

Further, if you have a prior conviction for violating Penal Code 288.3 PC, you can receive an additional five consecutive years in prison.

Sex Offender Registration Requirement

Suppose you are convicted of contacting or communicating with a minor with intent to commit a felony. In that case, you must register under California's Sex Offender Registration Act, defined under Penal Code 290 PC. In most cases, you must register as a tier three offender, which requires lifetime registration.

Sometimes, you must register as a tier two offender, which requires a 20-year minimum registration requirement. A tier one offender will have a 10-year minimum registration requirement.

What Are the Related Crimes?

Several California crimes are related to Penal Code 288.3 PC contacting a minor to commit a felony, such as the following:

  • Penal Code 243.4 PC - sexual battery is touching someone's intimate parts without consent for the purpose of sexual gratification, arousal, or abuse.
  • Penal Code 314 PC - indecent exposure is willfully exposing your naked body or genitals in public to annoy or offend others.
  • Penal Code 647(a) PC - lewd conduct in public is touching your own or someone else's genitals, buttocks, or female breasts for sexual gratification when you should know that other people present would be offended by it.
  • Penal Code 288.4 PC - arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes makes it a crime to arrange a meeting with a minor. At the same time, you are motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in children and have the intent to expose your genitals or engage in lewd acts with the minor at the meeting.
  • Penal Code 261.5 PC - statutory rape is engaging in consensual sexual intercourse with a minor, regardless of consent.

What Are the Best Legal Defenses?

Suppose you were accused of contacting or communicating with a minor intending to commit certain felonies. In that case, our California sex crime lawyers can use different strategies to obtain the best possible outcome. 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 destroy your life in a lot of ways.

Contacting a Minor to Commit a Felony – California Penal Code 288.3 PC
Penal Code 288.3 PC makes it a crime to just contact a minor with the intent to commit a felony.

To fight Penal Code 288.3 cases, our criminal defense attorneys could use different strategies, as discussed below. 

Lack of intent to commit a felony – The prosecution has to prove your contact with the minor was to achieve a specific sex crime listed above. Just because you may have made contact with a little does not mean you had the intent to engage in the sexual-related activity.

Perhaps you had a romantic interest., but that does not prove you intended to commit a crime, even if there was sexual content in your communications.

A “lack of intent” is often the most effective defense since prosecutors must prove what you were thinking, which is challenging when we can cast reasonable doubt. 

You didn't know you contacted a minor – Perhaps you had a reasonable belief the person you were getting was an adult. Recall the prosecutor has to show you knew they were a minor or should have known. Perhaps the alleged victim lied and posted a picture, making them look older. We have seen some 288.3 PC cases where minors looked like adults, and the D.A. dismissed the charge before trial.

Entrapment by police – As noted, police officers will frequently pose as minors online in a “sting” to catch violators who make contact with children. They will often use overly aggressive techniques like pressure, harassment, fraud, flattery, or even threats to persuade somebody to commit a crime they would have otherwise not committed. Entrapment can occur when law enforcement officers talk you into committing a crime you would have otherwise not committed.

Negotiating with the prosecutor for reduced charges or dismissing the case might be possible. Through prefiling intervention, we may avoid the formal filing of bills before the court, known as a “DA Reject.” So, pick up the phone now. Make the call. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand ready to help you. The Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles County. 

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