Contacting a minor to commit a sex crime is a felony in California. Penal Codes 288.4 and 288.3 criminalize acts, ranging from contacting a child to arranging and meeting with them or attending it.

The prosecution will secure a conviction against you if they can prove that you planned a meeting with the child. Additionally, it must be clear that you intended to commit sex crimes like lewd acts with a minor. For example, sodomy, statutory rape, and oral copulation by fear or force.

You should not take the charges of contacting a minor or arranging a meeting with them for sexual crimes lightly. A conviction under these statutes can have severe legal and collateral consequences for your life. Therefore, if you or a loved one is arrested and charged with the offense, you must hire and retain a reliable sex crimes defense attorney.

Overview of California Penal Code 288.4

You commit a crime under PC 288.4 when you arrange a meeting with a child under eighteen years old to engage in sexual acts. Before you face a conviction under this statute, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

You Arranged a Meeting with a Minor

Under California law, a minor is an individual under eighteen. Therefore, the prosecution must prove you planned to meet a child within this age bracket. A meeting can be arranged by phone or electronic communication.

Law enforcement officers often use sting and undercover operations that pretend to be minors to get to individuals who arrange these meetings with children.

Your Plan to Meet the Child was Motivated by Sexual Interest in the Child

You could be found guilty of arranging a meeting with a child for sexual purposes if the prosecution can establish that your motivation to plan the meeting was driven by a sexual interest in the child. The evidence to prove this element will come from the context of your existing or past relationship with the alleged victim.

You Intended to Engage in Lewd Conduct with the Child

The prosecutor must prove that you intended to do one of the following acts during your meeting with the minor:

  • Expose your genitals to the child
  • Cause the child to expose their genitals to you
  • Initiate sexual contact with the child. Sexual contact is any form of touching intended for sexual arousal or gratification.

Penalties for Violating Penal Code 288.4

Arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. The circumstances of your case and your criminal history could affect the nature of your charges. As a misdemeanor, a violation of PC 288.4 will attract penalties, including:

  • Misdemeanor probation
  • A jail sentence of up to one year
  • Fines not exceeding $5,000

The prosecution will file felony charges against you if you have a sex crime conviction on your record. If your felony conviction is based on this fact, you will face a prison sentence of sixteen months to three years.

Additionally, a felony conviction could arise if you attend the meeting with the child for lewd purposes. The potential penalties for your charges in this case include:

  • Formal probation
  • Fines not exceeding $10,000
  • A prison sentence of two to four years

Understanding California PC 288.3

Contacting a minor to commit a felony is a severe offense charged under California PC 288.3. You will be found guilty of violating this statute if the prosecution can prove these elements:

  • You contacted a child directly or indirectly
  • You planned to meet the child with the intent of committing certain felonies
  • You knew or should have known that the person you contacted was a minor

You are only guilty of committing this crime if you intended to commit the following crimes:


Rape is a serious crime that involves having sex with another person without their consent. Under California law, the age of consent for a sexual act is eighteen years. Therefore, any sexual act involving a minor will be considered a crime under rape laws. Additionally, rape charges are brought against individuals who engage in sexual intercourse with a disabled or intoxicated person who is incapable of consenting to the act.


Under California PC 207, kidnapping involves taking another person and moving them a substantial distance without their consent. The prosecution must establish that you used force or fear to commit this act for you to be convicted of kidnapping.

A person can also commit kidnapping without force or violence if:

  • The victim was a child under fourteen years old
  • You use trucks or false representations to engage and convince the alleged victim to go with you
  • You take a person against their will with the intent to commit a sex crime


California PC 286 defines sodomy as the contact between the penis of one person and the anus of another. Sodomy attracts criminal charges under the following circumstances:

  • The act is committed against a minor.
  • The act is accomplished through force, fear, intimidation, or violence.
  • The act is performed with or on an intoxicated or disabled person.
  • The act is done with a fellow prisoner or jail inmate.

Child Pornography

California PC 311 makes it an offense to advertise, print, possess, or duplicate child pornography. Under the statute, child pornography is images or videos depicting sexual acts or indecency involving children under 18. You can also be charged under this statute if you convince a child to participate in making pornographic material.

If you contact a child with the intent to persuade them to engage in making pornographic videos or images, you can be charged under PC 288.3 and face the penalties for PC 311.

Child Endangerment

You commit a crime of child endangerment when you place a child under eighteen years in a situation that threatens their safety and health. This could include exposing the child to suffering or unjustifiable pain.

You could be charged with this offense if the prosecution proves that:

  • You inflicted unjustifiable physical or mental pain on a minor.
  • You allowed another person to harm a child.
  • You allow a child under your custody to be harmed or injured.

Forcible Sexual Penetration with a Foreign Object

Under CPC 289, it is unlawful to forcefully penetrate the anus or vagina of another person with a foreign object. Even when you did not use force or violence against the victim, you can be charged under this statute for performing the act on a minor, disabled, or intoxicated individual.

Penalties for Violating Penal Code 288.3

If you are found guilty of contacting a minor to commit a felony, you will face many penalties, including incarceration and fines. The specific sentence you will face is similar to the sentence for the underlying offense that you intended to commit, including:

  • You will face a prison sentence of up to thirteen years if you contact a child intending to commit sodomy against them.
  • The court will impose a prison sentence ranging from three to eight years for communication with a minor with the intent to engage in lewd acts with the alleged victim.
  • If you contacted the child intending to engage in oral copulation with them, your conviction will result in a prison sentence ranging from sixteen months to eight years.

Sex Offender Registration for Arranging a Meeting with a Minor to Commit a Sex Crime

Even after serving your jail or prison sentence and paying your fines, a conviction for arranging a meeting with a child could have lifelong effects on your life, including sex offender registration. The requirement to register as a sex offender is one of the most dreaded consequences of a sex crime conviction in California.

Sex offender registration involves entering your name into the sex offender registry, where it remains for a given period. After a misdemeanor conviction, you must remain on the registry for up to ten years. A felony conviction for the crime will result in sex offender registration for twenty years.

As a sex offender, you must provide your information to the local law enforcement office and renew it each year. Like the criminal record, the sex offender registry is a public record. Therefore, individuals who perform a background check can find your sex offender status and use it against you.

Legal Defenses Against Penal Codes 288.3 and 288.4

Facing an arrest and charges for a serious crime, like meeting a child to commit a sex crime, does not mean that you will be convicted. Sometimes, your charges may be based on false allegations, mistakes of fact, or other reasonable explanations. With the guidance of your sex crimes defense attorney, you can raise the following defenses in your case:

Lack of Intent to Commit the Underlying Offenses

You can be arrested and charged under California PC 288.3 if you arrange a meeting with a minor or contact them to commit sex crimes. The crimes addressed under this statute can include kidnapping, rape, sodomy, or forced oral copulation. Communicating with a child is not evidence enough that you intended to engage in these crimes.

Therefore, arguing a lack of intent to commit the alleged crimes can be a solid defense against your charges. Your attorney will work hard to create doubt in the prosecutor’s case against you, allowing you to avoid the harsh consequences of a conviction under this statute.

Lack of Knowledge that the Alleged Victim Was a Minor

A critical element that the prosecution must prove when establishing your liability under PC 288.3 and 288.4 is your knowledge that the person you contacted was a minor. If you believed the person with whom you communicated or met was over eighteen years old, you can argue that:

  • The victim lied to you about their age. This could be done by producing fake identification cards, which could pass as authentic.
  • You met the alleged victim in a place where minors are not expected to be present.
  • The alleged victim acted and looked mature enough to be an adult.

Your Actions Were not Motivated by Sexual Interests in the Minor

You will be found guilty of arranging meetings with a minor for sexual purposes if your actions are motivated by an abnormal sexual interest in the child. Proving this element can be challenging for the prosecution. This is because they may need to analyze your past actions to determine whether you have been involved sexually with minors in the past.

There are other valid explanations you could provide for your arrangement to meet a minor that does not involve sexual interests.

You are a Victim of Entrapment

Entrapment occurs when law enforcement officers act overbearingly, causing you to engage in criminal acts that you could not have done without their insight. A police officer can incite you to commit a crime, such as meeting with a minor for sexual purposes, through threats, pressure, harassment, flattery, or fraud.

Entrapment is a valid defense if you are arrested for violating PC 288.3 and 288.4 in a sting or undercover operation. In this case, law enforcement officers pose as minors online, aggressively flirt with you, and sometimes suggest a meeting. If you respond or agree to the meeting, you could be arrested and charged for arranging a meeting with a minor for sexual purposes.

Find a Competent Sex Crimes Defense Attorney Near Me

Contacting a minor or meeting them to commit sex crimes is a felony charge under PC 288.3 and 288.4. Most of these charges arise when you attempt to communicate with children under eighteen years old over the Internet but end up communicating with undercover police officers.

A conviction for causing a minor to commit a sex crime attracts severe consequences, including incarceration, hefty fines, and sometimes probation. Additionally, you will be required to register as a sex offender.

The first step to fighting these charges is seeking expert legal representation. At Foos Gavin Law Firm, we understand the impact that your conviction can have on your freedom and future. Our skilled lawyers will guide you through building a solid defense and protecting your constitutional rights in Sacramento, CA. Contact us at 916-779-3500 to discuss your case details.