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Lewd or Lascivious Acts With a Child Under Fourteen: California's Extension of Force Under Penal Code Section 288

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Journal Volume: 9 Issue: 1 Dated: (Fall 1986) Pages: 119-146
R VonSchlichting
Date Published
28 pages
This article discusses subdivisions (a) and (b) of Section 288 of the California Penal Code, a statute criminalizing a lewd and lascivious act with a child under 14 years of age.
The article identifies the elements of a violation under Section 288(a) as: a lewd or lascivious act; committed on the body or part of a child under 14; with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of the child or perpetrator. The article further defines the terms 'lewd intent,' 'sexual arousal,' and 'touch' under the statute. A section 288(a) act committed by use of force, violence, duress, menace or threat of great bodily harm is a felony punishable by imprisonment for 3, 6, or 8 years. The article explores what constitutes force in detail. Sexual crimes included in a Section 288 violation are summarized, as well as the potential mental and physical harm that a child can suffer from a lewd act. Graphs showing the scope of sexual deviance and the consequences that a young child may endure are included. The California statute is characterized as progressive. Finally, it is noted California courts have interpreted the meaning of force in the context of the ultimate harms done to a child as well as the circumstances of the assault and the vulnerability of the child victim. 267 footnotes.