The Crime of PC 288.3 Contacting a Minor With Intent To Commit a Felony
California Penal Code 288.3 PC makes it a crime to contact a minor, or make an attempt knowing they are a minor, with the intent to commit a sex crime or other serious felonies that involves the minor.
The crimes included under this statute supporting PC 288.3 charges are PC 287 oral copulation with a minor, child pornography, and others discussed below.
This means you can be charged and convicted of a felony without having actually doing any type of act with the minor.
PC 288.3 penalizes you for just intending to commit a sex crime with a minor.
Penal Code 288.3 is one of several “attempted crimes” defined under California law, meaning you can be penalized just for taking a direct step to commit a crime.
This statute was enacted as part of the 2006 California Proposition 83 “Sexual Predator Punishment and Control Act,” known as Jessica's Law.
This act gave police officers more power to catch sexual criminals before committing a crime, such as allowing them to go online and pose as minors.
For additional information, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.
What Is California Penal Code 288.3?
Under PC 288.3, it is a felony to contact or communicate with a minor (someone under 18) with the intent to commit a felony such as kidnapping or a sex crime against that minor. This statute is defined as:
- “a person who contacts or communicates with a minor, or attempts contact, who should have reasonably known they are a minor, with intent to commit a specific offense involving the minor.”
To be charged with contacting a minor to commit a felony, you must have known that the person you were contacting was a minor.
Further, to “contact” or “communicate,” means not only means person-to-person, but also phone, email, internet, or other electronic communication.
As stated above, PC 288.3 is a California attempted crime, meaning that you can be penalized as if you had committed the crime when you only planned to commit it.
The key factor in a PC 288.3 prosecution is the “attempt' to communicate and knowing they were a minor.
What are the Underlying Offenses for PC 288.3?
You can't be convicted of contacting a minor to commit a felony unless the prosecutor can prove you had intent to commit a crime listed under Penal Code 288.3 PC.
Examples of the underlying felonies that may fall under this statute include:
- Penal Code 273a PC - child endangerment,
- Penal Code 261 PC – rape,
- Penal Code 286 PC - illegal acts of sodomy,
- Penal Code 207 PC – kidnapping,
- Penal Code 209 PC - kidnapping for ransom,
- Penal Code 288.2 PC - sending harmful matter to a minor,
- Penal Code 288 PC - lewd acts with a child under 14 years,
- Penal Code 289 PC - forcible sexual penetration with foreign object,
- Penal Code 287 PC - oral copulation with a minor,
- Penal Code 311 PC – child pornography.
As this offense involves intent, it may seem difficult to catch someone and charge them with a violation of PC 288.3.
But most often, an individual is caught contacting a minor to commit a felony because the “minor” they're communicating with is really a member of law enforcement posing as a minor online.
Penalties for Contacting a Minor to Commit a Felony
Although a violation of PC 288.3 is an intention to commit a felony, this crime is still punishable as a felony.
Whatever the penalties are for the felony you would be accused of if you had carried out your intention are the penalties you will face.
In other words, the potential sentence will depend on the underlying crime.
For example, if you are over the age of 21 and charged with contacting someone who is under 16 with the intent of participating in the act of sodomy (a felony under PC 286), your penalties would be the same as if you had actually violated PC 286—up to 14 years in prison.
If you violate PC 288.3 more than once, you will receive a penalty of five additional years for each conviction. Also, the state will require you to register as a sex offender in California.
In most cases, you will have to register as a tier-three sex offender, meaning you must register your name for life.
By violating PC 288.3, you may also have to pay up to $10,000 in fines.
These related crimes are often charged by the prosecutor along with Penal Code 288.3 PC contacting a minor to commit a felony:
Penal Code 261.5 PC - statutory rape,
Penal Code 288.4 PC - arranging a meeting with minor for lewd purposes.
How Can I Fight PC 288.3 Charges?
To fight the charge of Penal Code 288.3 contacting a minor to commit a felony, our criminal defense attorneys may rely on one of these common strategies.
No intent to commit a felony: The prosecutor must prove that your communication with a minor was to commit one of the sex crimes listed above. Merely contacting a minor doesn't prove you intended to engage in sexual acts with them, and it's possible the minor misunderstood your communication and contacted law enforcement as a result;
You unknowingly contacted a minor: If you had a reasonable belief that the person you communicated with was a legal adult, you may not be convicted of violating PC 288.3. The alleged victim may have lied about their age or didn't disclose their age and looked much older;
- Entrapment: often, police officers will pose as minors online to catch violators contacting minors to commit felonies. In these situations, law enforcement members may use aggressive techniques such as pressure, harassment, fraud, flattery, or threats to persuade you to engage in unlawful behavior.
Law enforcement officials have many tools at their disposal, so you shouldn't try to defend yourself from a sex crime on your own.
It's common for someone to be charged with contacting a minor with intent to commit a felony after they got involved in an internet sting operation organized by undercover law enforcement officers.
The penalties and repercussions of a Penal Code 288.3 sex crime conviction in California are devastating and long-lasting.
Our skilled criminal defense attorneys can defend your rights and give you the best chance to minimize the severe consequences of these allegations.
We might be able to negotiate with the prosecutor for lesser charges or even persuade them from filing charges though our prefiling intervention process.
Eisner Gorin LLP is a top-rated defense firm with two office locations in Los Angeles County.
Call us (877) 781-1570 for a consultation, or contact our firm online.