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

California Penal Code 288.3 PC is the statute making it a crime to contact or communicate with someone under the age of 18 person, believing they are a minor, with the intent to commit a sex crime or other serious felony involving them.

Notably, the underlying felony offenses that support PC 288.3 charges include lewd acts with a minor, oral copulation with a minor, sending harmful material, child pornography, rape, kidnapping, and others, listed below. Further, just attempting to engage in sexually explicit conversations with minors is a crime, even if unsuccessful or if you never do anything illegal with them.

If convicted of contacting a minor with intent to commit a felony, the penalties are the same as those for committing the felony, and you will be required to register as a California sex offender.

This law is part of the “Sexual Predator Punishment and Control Act,” commonly known as California Proposition 83. PC 288.3 is often enforced through undercover internet sting operations involving police officers pretending to be minors. In many cases, you were not communicating with a minor but rather somebody you thought was one.

PC 288.3 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 is the Legal Definition of PC 288.3?

The legal definition of Penal Code 288.3 PC contacting a minor with intent to commit is listed within the “elements of the crime.” This means all these factors must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be found guilty, including the following: 

  • You directly or indirectly contacted (or attempted) a minor under the age of 18 years old,
  • At that time, you intended to commit one of the underlying with the minor and
  • You knew or reasonably should have known they were minors. 

Contact” or “communication” means personal in-person, by phone, email, text, mail, internet, social media, electronic communications, or print ads. A minor is anyone who is under 18 years old. It's important to note it's a crime even to attempt to communicate with a minor to commit a felony. 

What Are the Underlying Offenses?

To be found guilty of California Penal Code 288.3 PC contacting a minor to commit a felony, it must first be proven that you had the intent to commit one of the felony crimes listed below, known as the “underlying offenses,” including the following:

  • Penal Code 207 PCKidnapping means moving someone a substantial distance without their consent, by use of force or fear, but could be committed without force or fear if the victim is under 14, false promises are made or commits a sex crime with the minor.
  • Penal Code 311 PCChild pornography is sending, transporting, producing, possessing, or duplicating any child porn with intent to distribute it or hiring, employing, or persuading a minor to participate in the production of child porn.
  • Penal Code 261 PCRape is sexual intercourse without consent and could include the use of force, violence, coercion, threats, or fraud, or when the victim is unable to consent due to intoxication, for example.
  • Penal Code 286 PC – Sodomy is forcing someone to engage in anal intercourse without consent or engaging in sodomy with a minor.
  • Penal Code 273a PC – Child endangerment is causing, permitting, or inflicting unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering on a child.
  • Penal Code 288 PCLewd acts with a minor under 14, which means touching a minor anywhere on their body for sexual purposes.
  • Penal Code 287 PC – Oral copulation with a minor is non-consensual oral sex or any consensual oral sex with a minor.
  • Penal Code 288.2 PCSending harmful material to a minor means to send “obscene” matter to someone under 18 with the intent to sexually arouse yourself or them to engage in sexual activity with them.
  • Penal Code 289 PCForcible acts of sexual penetration are nonconsensual sexual penetration with a foreign through force, violence, duress, fear, or threats, or consensual sexual penetration with a minor.

What Are Penalties for Penal Code 288.3 Conviction?

Suppose you are convicted of contacting a minor to commit a felony. In that case, it's a felony offense that carries imprisonment in a state prison for the term listed for an attempt to commit the intended crime. Simply put, the penalties you might receive are any penalty for the underlying offense you intended to commit against the minor, including the following:

  • Six months, or eight years, for contacting minors to engage in oral sex.
  • Three, six, or eight years for contacting minors for lewd acts.
  • Seven to 13 years for contacting a minor to commit forcible sodomy.
  • A fine of up to $10,000.
  • Formal felony supervised probation.
  • Sex offender registration (Penal Code 290 PC).

If you have a prior PC 288.3 conviction, your state prison sentence will be increased by five consecutive years. This is commonly known as sentencing enhancements for someone charged with a second or subsequent offense.

Sex Offender Registration Requirement

If you are convicted of PC 288.3 contacting or communicating with a minor with intent to commit a felony, you must register under California's Sex Offender Registration Act.

This is defined under Penal Code 290 PC, and in most cases, you must register as a tier three offender, which requires lifetime registration. Sometimes, you can register as a tier two offender, requiring a minimum 20-year registration requirement. A tier one offender will have a 10-year minimum registration requirement.

What Are Related Crimes?

Numerous California crimes are related to Penal Code 288.3 PC contacting a minor to commit a felony, including the following:

  • Penal Code 288.4 PC - arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes. This law makes it a crime to arrange a meeting with a minor while motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in children and intends to expose your genitals or engage in lewd acts with the minor at the meeting.
  • Penal Code 288.7 PC - sex with a minor under 10. This law makes it a crime for an adult over the age of 18 to engage in sexual intercourse, penetration, sodomy, or oral copulation with a child under the age of 10.  
  • Penal Code 243.4 PC - sexual battery. This law prohibits touching somebody's intimate parts without consent for the purpose of sexual gratification, arousal, or abuse.
  • Penal Code 261.5 PC - statutory rape. This law prohibits engaging in consensual or nonconsensual sexual intercourse with a minor, regardless of consent.
  • Penal Code 314 PC - indecent exposure. This law prohibits willfully exposing your naked body or genitals in public to annoy or offend others.
  • Penal Code 647(a) PC - lewd conduct. This law prohibits public touching of your own or another person's genitals, buttocks, or female breasts for sexual gratification when you should know that other people present would be offended by it.

What Are the Legal Defenses for PC 288.3? 

Our California criminal defense lawyers can use different strategies to fight charges of contacting a minor to commit a felony violating Penal Code 288.3 PC, including the following: 

  • Lack of intent to commit a felony.
  • You did not intend to commit one of the underlying offenses.
  • You did not know the person you contacted was a minor.
  • You are the victim of police entrapment.

Perhaps we can argue there was a lack of intent to commit a felony. Proving intent to commit a crime can be difficult for a prosecutor. We might be able to say that your contact with the minor was not a criminal act or a felony. Perhaps the communication was legitimate but misinterpreted by the minor, who contacted law enforcement.

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

Perhaps we can say you did not know you were contacting a minor. Sometimes, you might be charged with PC 288.3, but you reasonably believed the alleged victim was an adult.  Perhaps they lied about their age.

Perhaps we can argue you are the victim of entrapment by police. This can occur when you were unknowingly communicating with an undercover police officer posing as a minor. Sometimes, undercover officers will unlawfully persuade you to commit a crime through coercion or flattery that you would not have otherwise committed.

Police often use aggressive techniques to catch violators. An entrapment defense would argue that you only engaged in unlawful behavior because the police persuaded you. 
Perhaps we can negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges, case dismissal, or avoid the formal filing of formal charges (DA reject).

Contact our law firm for a free case evaluation and to discuss the legal options moving forward. The Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles, CA.

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