Fullerton police have arrested a man on drug charges and are holding him as a “person of interest” in an incident where a driver is suspected of luring a teenage girl into his pickup truck. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the man has not been charged in that incident and detectives are still investigating the case.
Attempt to Lure Teen
Officials said the incident occurred on April 24 when a 16-year-old girl was headed home walking south on Richman Avenue just south on Valencia Avenue, when a man in a tan 2003 Ford F-150 pickup truck pulled up alongside her. The girl did not know the man and his name has not been released by the authorities. They said the man stopped the truck against oncoming traffic yelled at the girl several times to “get in the car.”
The girl continued walking and the man followed in his truck. He added that the girl was scared and took out her cellphone to call someone for help. The man drove away. Investigators say they want to know if anyone else has been approached by the man, has information on the truck or who has been the victim of a similar crime.
Crimes Involving Minors
The term “child enticement” refers to the act of adults luring children to engage in sexual acts. Child enticement is a term that could encompass severe discrete crimes such as child pornography, kidnapping and prostitution. A “child” under California law, is a person under the age of 18. Under California law, “child enticement” may include one of several acts such as:
- Seducing a child: It is a crime to try and seduce a child or someone who is perceived to be a child by the defendant, with the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct. It is also illegal to seduce a child by giving or electronically sending material such as pornography to the child, meant to arouse sexual feelings. This law applies regardless of whether a meeting or conduct actually takes place and it includes materials given or sent to the child in person or through the Internet. If the materials were given to the child by a parent, guardian or teacher as part of legitimate sex education, it does not constitute a crime.
Seducing a child is prosecuted as a misdemeanor and is punishable with a fine of up to $1,000, up to six months in jail and/or informal probation. Second or subsequent offenses are felonies for which the defendant may be fined up to $10,000 and receive formal probation and up to three years in prison.
- Contacting a child: California Penal Code Section 288.4 states that it is illegal to arrange a meeting with a child with the intent to expose that person’s genitals, view the child’s genitals or to engage in sexual activities with the child. The penalties escalate if the meeting actually takes place. A conviction could result in a year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000. A second and subsequent conviction could result in a prison sentence. If the meeting actually takes place those convicted could get a prison sentence of up to four years.
- Kidnapping: It is against the law for an adult to hire, persuade or entice a child under 14 to go somewhere with an adult for illegal purposes. Kidnapping may also include the use of force. This means scaring, threatening or overpowering the child in a way that convinces him or her to go with the adult against the child’s will.
This is a “wobbler,” which means it could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. If convicted of a misdemeanor, you will have to pay a $1,000 fine and/or spend up to one year in jail. If convicted of felony kidnapping defendants face up to four years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. For second and subsequent offenses, defendants may face up to five years in state prison.
- Employing a minor: It is against the law to hire a minor for sexual conduct such as prostitution or other illegal activity such as producing pornography. Penalties for this crime may vary, but generally it includes up to eight years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.
In addition to these types of criminal consequences, a person convicted of a child sex crime could lose their job; lose any professional licenses such as the license to practice law, medicine, social work, psychology or other professions; lose child custody; and/or face a civil lawsuit for damages the alleged victim has suffered. You may of course be sentenced to jail or prison time and be required to register as a sex offender. Being registered as a sex offender makes it difficult for individuals to obtain job and housing.
What Actions Should You Take?
If you have been accused of engaging in inappropriate behavior with a child, please remember that it is an extremely serious issue. Such accusations often lead to criminal investigations. There are several steps you can take to protect your rights. First and foremost, avoid making statements to police. Try not to answer any questions, make any statements or engage in a conversation or discussion until you have consulted a sex crime defense attorney. Remember that anything you say can, and most likely, will be used against you in court.
Consult with a criminal defense lawyer right away for information and advice on the next steps to take. It would be in your best interest to contact a lawyer as soon as you learn that an investigation is underway. Apart from advising you, your attorney can immediately begin communicating with anyone who is trying to question or contact you regarding the allegations.
Gather and preserve any physical evidence in your possession connected to the investigation. This may include photos, videos, records, letters, emails, etc. Make a list of possible witnesses who can corroborate your account of what occurred. If you or a loved one is facing child sex crime charges, please contact an experienced Orange County child sex crime lawyer today for a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.