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Penal Code 288.3 PC | Contacting a Minor to Commit a Felony

Penal Code 288.3 PC – Contacting a Minor to Commit a Felony

Penal Code 288.3 PC is a California law that makes it illegal for an adult to contact or communicate with a minor if they intend to commit certain serious crimes against that minor. This offense is commonly referred to as “contacting a minor to commit a felony.”

This law was enacted to protect minors from predators who try to lure them into dangerous situations. It covers communications through any means, including online or in person. The purpose is to stop harmful conduct before it occurs by criminalizing the initial contact.

Elements of the Crime

For a prosecutor to convict someone under this law, they need to prove these elements:

  • The defendant contacted or communicated with a minor, or attempted to do so
  • When the defendant did so, they intended to commit certain crimes against the minor, specifically:
    • Kidnapping
    • Rape
    • Sodomy
    • Oral copulation
    • Sexual penetration
    • Lewd acts
    • Sending harmful matter to a minor
    • Child pornography crimes
    • Child abuse
  • The defendant could reasonably have known the victim was under 18

The alleged intent to commit one of the above crimes is a critical element. The communication itself does not need to be explicit – the intent is what matters.[1]

Penalties

A violation of Penal Code 288.3 is a felony offense. Potential penalties include:

  • 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in county jail
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Both jail time and fines

If the defendant has a prior conviction under this statute, they will face an additional mandatory sentence of 5 years in state prison.[2]

Sex Offender Registration

Perhaps most seriously, a conviction under PC 288.3 will also require the defendant to register as a sex offender in California. The majority of violators will have to register for life as a Tier 3 offender. However, there are exceptions if the intended crime was misdemeanor sexual battery or statutory rape.[3]

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
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Brendan huisman
2024-03-18
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
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Keisha Parris
2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
2024-03-12
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
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Loveth Okpedo
2024-03-12
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
2024-02-28
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

Legal Defenses

There are several legal defenses that a California criminal defense lawyer could use to contest Penal Code 288.3 charges, such as:

  • No intent to commit a felony – If the defendant did not actually intend to commit one of the specified crimes, then this key element is missing.
  • No communication occurred – If the prosecutor cannot prove that the defendant contacted or communicated with a minor, they cannot establish an essential element of the crime.
  • No reason to believe the victim was underage – If the minor misrepresented their age or appeared to be an adult, this could undermine the prosecution’s case.
  • Entrapment – If the contact was instigated by law enforcement trying to create a crime, entrapment laws may apply.
  • False accusations – Minors sometimes falsely allege abuse or misconduct, which could lead to false charges.

Related Offenses

There are other similar laws that criminalize sexual communications with minors, such as:

  • Penal Code 288.4 – Arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes
  • Penal Code 288.2 – Harmful matter sent to seduce a minor
  • Penal Code 261.5 – Unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor (statutory rape)

However, unlike PC 288.3, statutory rape laws only apply to actual sexual contact. They do not criminalize communications or attempts to arrange such contact.[4]

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do police need a warrant to obtain communications with a minor?

Generally yes. The 4th Amendment requires police to obtain a warrant before accessing private communications such as text messages or emails. However, websites and social media platforms may voluntarily provide information to police in some cases.

2. Can someone be charged with this crime even if they did not communicate about sex?

Yes, as long as the communication reflects an intent to commit one of the specified crimes. The communication does not need to be explicitly about sex acts or include inappropriate photos/videos. Just evidence of intent to commit a felony against the minor.[5]

3. What if the minor lied about their age?

That could potentially be a defense. If the minor explicitly said they were 18 or older, or their profile/ad listed an age over 18, the defendant may not have reasonably known they were a minor. This could undermine the prosecution’s case.

4. Could someone be charged with this crime even if they were just joking or exaggerating?

Potentially yes. Prosecutors just need to prove intent to commit a felony. It does not matter if the person was serious or just exaggerating. However, this context could help the defense argue there was no true criminal intent.

5. What if the minor initiated the communication?

That does not matter legally. An adult has a legal duty not to engage with communications that reflect intent to commit a felony against a minor. It does not matter who initiated the contact.

 

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