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Sex with a Child Under 10

Penal Code 288.7 PC - Sex with a Child Under 10

California Penal Code 288.7 PC is the statute making it a crime for an adult to engage in sexual intercourse, penetration, sodomy, or oral copulation with a child under the age of 10. If convicted of this serious felony crime, you could face up to life in a state prison, and you will have to register for life as a sex offender.

PC 288.7 says, “(a) Any person 18 years of age or older who engages in sexual intercourse or sodomy with a child who is ten years of age or younger is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 25 years to life.

(b) Any person 18 years of age or older who engages in oral copulation or sexual penetration, as defined in Section 289, with a child who is ten years of age or younger is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 15 years to life.”

To convict you of violating PC 288.7, the prosecutor must prove you engaged in an act of sexual intercourse, sodomy, oral copulation, or sexual penetration with a child when they were ten or younger and that you were over the age of 18.

Notably, sex with a child under 10 is a “strict liability” offense, meaning the prosecutor does not have to prove you had malicious intent. Simply put, they only must prove that you just committed the sex act to get a conviction.

This sexual crime can be committed either by an adult performing a sex act on the child or causing the child to perform a sexual act on them or another person. 

There are numerous California statutes prohibiting various sex acts involving minors, but PC 288.7 deals specifically with an adult (over 18) perpetrator and a victim who is age ten or younger. Once someone is charged with violating PC 288.7, the judge will issue a criminal protective order against them to prohibit them from having contact with the victim.

Sex with a Child Law – Quick Facts

Penal Code 288.7 PC sex with a child under the age of ten has several facts you should know to understand this law, including the following:

  • Sexual intercourse” means any penetration of the vagina or genitalia by a penis, and ejaculation is not required.
  • Sexual penetration” means any penetration of the vagina or anal opening with a foreign object.
  • Sodomy” is any anal penetration by the penis.
  • Oral copulation” is any contact between someone's mouth and the sexual organ or anus of another person.  
  • Family members can also be convicted of the crime.
  • The cutoff point for the child victim is up to their 10th birthday.
  • If the victim is older than ten, then other laws would apply.
  • Consent is not a defense, as minors have not reached the age of consent.
  • Prosecutors do not have to prove criminal or malicious intent to convict. 

How Do Police Detectives Investigate PC 288.7 Cases? 

Credible Penal Code 288.7 PC sex with a child under ten allegations are taken seriously, and police will attempt to build a criminal case against someone using various techniques.

Sex with a Child Under 10 - California Penal Code 288.7 PC
PC 288.7 makes it a crime for an adult to engage in sexual activity with a child under 10.

Once they receive information, police will contact an alleged suspect and inform them that sexual allegations were made against them. They will then ask them to come down to the police station for an initial interview to get their side of the story.

Notably, at this point, they are not required to read Miranda rights because they are not in custody or being asked potentially incriminating questions. If the suspect agrees to be questioned at the station, they will typically attempt to elicit a confession. 

Police detectives might also ask the suspect to submit to a polygraph test (lie detector). Still, the results are not typically admitted in court unless the prosecution and the defendant agree they should be admitted.

Another common technique is the pretext phone call, where law enforcement has the alleged child victim or one parent call the suspect while police are listening.

During the call, they will typically accuse the suspect of committing the crime and ask them why they did it. This is when the police wait for the suspect to make incriminating statements or apologize for the crime.  If this occurs, prosecutors can use any statements a suspect makes during the call in any filed criminal case.

What Are Related Crimes?

Numerous California statutes are related to Penal Code 288.7 PC sex with a minor under the age of 10, such as the following:

  • Penal Code 288 PClewd acts on a minor makes it a crime for someone to commit a lewd act on a child under 16, such as touching a child for sexual purposes or causing a child to themselves or someone else.
  • Penal Code 288.2 PCsending harmful matter to a minor makes it a crime to send, distribute, or exhibit harmful or obscene material to a minor under 18 when the purpose is to arouse and seduce the minor sexually.
  • Penal Code 288.3 PCcontact a minor to commit a felony means to contact them or attempt to, and you have the intent to commit a sex crime or other serious felony offense involving a minor.
  • Penal Code 288.4 PCarrange a meeting with a minor makes it a crime to arrange a meeting with a minor under 18 with intent to engage in sexual conduct.
  • Penal Code 288.5 PCcontinuous sexual abuse of a child requires three or more lewd acts or unlawful sexual touching for three months or more by a person who has regular access to a minor under 14 years old.
  • Penal Code 287 PCoral copulation with a minor makes it a crime for a person to perform oral copulation on a minor under the age of 18.
  • Penal Code 261.5 PCstatutory rape makes it a crime to have sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 18.
  • Penal Code 647.6 PCchild molestation makes it a crime to annoy or molest a child under 18 or an adult whom you believe to be under 18.

What Are the PC 288.7 Penalties? 

PC 288.7 violations are felonies and typically result in a state prison sentence. The length of the sentence will depend on the type of sexual act committed on the victim, such as the following:

  • Oral copulation or sexual penetration on the victim carries a term of 15 years to life in prison.
  • Sexual intercourse or sodomy on the victim carries a term of 25 years to life in state prison.

Notably, when you are convicted for PC 288.7, and the judge imposes a certain number of years with the possibility of life in state prison, you must serve at least the minimum number of years imposed

You might be eligible for parole after serving their minimum sentence (15 or 25 years) in certain conditions. Still, you will only be released after a favorable ruling from the California Parole Board.

Does a Conviction Require Sex Offender Registration?

California Penal Code 288.7 PC sex with a child under ten is considered a Tier 3 sex crime on the Sex Offender Registry Act under Penal Code 290 PC. Once you are released from prison, you will still have to register as a sex offender for life. 

This means you will be required to register with local police, and you must re-renew your registration every year and every time you move to another location for the rest of your life. There are also restrictions on where you can live and work. 

What Are the Best Defenses for PC 288.7? 

Despite the severe nature of this sex crime, an experienced California sex crime lawyer could use different strategies for the best possible outcome. The most common include:

  • The contact with the minor was not sexual.
  • You are the victim of a false allegation.

Maybe we can argue there was no sexual contact. Perhaps there was some physical contact, which is not illegal, but it was not sexual. Maybe the touching of their intimate parts was accidental.

Perhaps we can argue the accusations are false. Maybe the accuser is lying or mistaken. Perhaps the minor child was coached to lie by an adult with other motives. Maybe the minor was upset over discipline and decided to make false allegations.

Maybe the child was over ten years old, and you could avoid the most severe penalties. We might be able to negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges or convince them not to file formal charges (DA reject). Contact our law firm for a free case evaluation. The Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles, CA. 

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