California Penal Code § 288.4 states that every person who, motivated by an unnatural sexual interest in children, arranges a meeting with a minor to expose their or the minor’s genitals or engage in other lewd and lascivious behavior is guilty of soliciting a minor.

Arranging the meeting is only one part of this crime. Actually going to the agreed place is another element that could lead to severe consequences if convicted.

This offense is also one of many internet sex crimes because the initial communication between the adult and the minor occurs on social media or in online chat rooms.

Other Related Sex Crimes

Those charged with soliciting a minor might also be accused of California Penal Code 273a, which involves willfully causing a child to suffer physical or mental anguish. Additionally, one could face charges for statutory rape if the alleged offender goes to the arranged place and has sex with a minor.

What Are the Elements of Soliciting a Minor?

According to California law, the prosecution must prove the following is true to convict you of soliciting a minor:

  • You arranged the meeting with a minor or someone you thought was one
  • You were motivated by an unnatural sexual interest
  • You had intentions of exposing your genitals or the child’s genitals or engaging in other sexual behavior
  • You went to the arranged location at about the same time you scheduled to meet

What Are the Penalties for Soliciting a Minor?

Depending on the facts of your case, you could face misdemeanor or felony charges. You can expect the following potential penalties if convicted:

  • Misdemeanor Offense – Up to a year in jail and fines as high as $5,000
  • Felony Offense – Up to two, three, or four years in the state prison

What Aggravating Factors Impact These Penalties?

Many factors could bring a misdemeanor charge to a felony, such as appearing at the arranged place and time with the minor. It’s one thing to be convicted of arranging the place to meet, but another to go to the set location.

Additionally, you will face felony charges for soliciting a minor if you have a previous criminal history.

Sex Offender Registration

On top of your criminal sentence, you must register as a sex offender. This can be seen publicly and will impact all areas of your life, including finding suitable housing, career opportunities, or even having the freedom to choose where you want to live.

You’ll have to register even if you’re convicted of a misdemeanor sex crime. So, your conviction will follow you much longer than you think.

What Are Your Defense Options?

Although your penalties may seem bleak, you have options available to fight your charges. Police might have tricked you into committing the crime, you could be falsely accused, or the minor might have misled you on their age.


Sting operations might put you in the middle of a crime you wouldn’t have otherwise committed. These tactics often don’t hold up in court since police coerced you into committing the crime. Your attorney can highlight this malpractice and fight to have your charges dismissed.

False Accusations

Often, innocent people are accused of this crime. With the prevalence of identity theft, the actual offender could have used your IP address to hide their identity and commit the offense. This could leave you facing penalties for a crime you didn’t do. Also, someone could have used your laptop or device without your knowledge to contact a minor, putting you in harm’s way.

You Didn’t Know the Person Was a Minor

There is a good chance you had no idea the person you were soliciting with was a minor. If your attorney can show the court you believed in good faith that the child was an adult, you could avoid a conviction. The minor might have even misled you to make you think they’re an adult.

Call Morris Law Today for a Solid Defense

Your future rides on the court’s decision, and you can’t leave your defense to just anybody. Attorney Seth Morris has saved victims of the system time and time again. His knowledge of local courts and California law is unmatched, and he truly stands out among Bay Area attorneys.

Call Morris Law today at 510-330-0814 for a free consultation.