What is Child Molestation under California Law?
Child molestation crimes are taken very seriously in California. There is a certain stigma involved with these cases due to the nature of the crime and the age of the alleged victims.
For over 38 years, Wallin & Klarich has stood by people who were accused of child molestation crimes. If you are convicted of certain sex crimes you can face devastating consequences to your personal and professional life.
However, every child molestation case differs greatly based on factors such as the age of the victim and the sexual act alleged. In fact, there are several different crimes that encompass child molestation in California.
Following are the different types of child molestation crimes:
Lewd or Lascivious Acts with a Minor (PC 288)
According to California Penal Code Section 288, a lewd or lascivious act against a minor is defined as touching any part of the body (bare or covered skin) of a minor or forcing the minor to touch him or herself or you for the purposes of sexually arousing or gratifying yourself or the victim. Penal Code Section 288 consists of three subsections:
- 288(a) Lewd or Lascivious Acts with a Child Under the Age of 14: To be convicted under California Penal Code Section 288(a), the prosecution has to prove that you touched a part of a child’s body or caused the child to touch his/her body to gain any sexual pleasures. In order to be convicted under Penal Code Section 288(a), the victim must be under the age of 14.
A conviction for this crime carries up to eight years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
- 288(b) Lewd or Lascivious Acts with a Minor by Force or Fear: If you are convicted of lewd acts with a minor by use of force, fear or threat, you face up to 10 years in state prison and a $10,000 fine under California Penal Code Section 288(b).
288(c) Lewd or Lascivious Acts with a Child of Age 14 or 15: To be charged under California Penal Code Section 288(c), the prosecution must prove that you made physical contact with a child 14 or 15 years of age and that the contact was done for sexual arousal or gratification. If you are convicted of this crime as a misdemeanor you face up to (one year or 364 days) in county jail. However, if you are more than ten years older than the alleged victim you face up to three years in state prison.
Annoying or Molesting a Child (PC 647.6)
Under PC 647.6, it is a crime to molest or annoy a child under the age of 18. In order to convict you of this crime, the prosecution must prove that the victim is a minor and the behavior of the accused was motivated due to an unusual sexual interest in the minor.
What Are the Penalties for Violating PC § 647.6?
The potential punishment you can receive if convicted of a violation of Penal Code Section 647.6 will depend upon the circumstances surrounding your commission of the offense. In some cases where a person is accused of a violation under Penal Code Section 647.6, they will be facing misdemeanor charges with a maximum punishment possible of one year in county jail. In other Penal Code Section 647.6 cases, a person will be facing a felony charge and up to 6 years in state prison.
In addition to the punishments outlined below, you will be required to register as a sex offender pursuant to Penal Code Section 290.
DIFFERING PUNISHMENTS FOR A VIOLATION OF PENAL CODE SECTION 647.6
If this is your first offense for this type of crime you can be sentenced to jail for up to one year and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine or both. (Penal Code 647.6(a)1)
If you entered an “inhabited dwelling” for the purpose of committing this crime you can be sent to prison for up to three years and be ordered to pay a fine of $5,000 or both.
If you have a prior conviction for the same offense, (PC 647.6) you can be sentenced to state prison for up to 3 years (Penal Code Section 647.6 c-1)
If you have a prior conviction for one of many sex crime offenses then you can be sentenced to up to 6 years in prison. (Penal Code Section 647.6c-2)
(a) (1) Every person who annoys or molests any child under 18 years of age shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both the fine and imprisonment.
(2) Every person who, motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in children, engages in conduct with an adult whom he or she believes to be a child under 18 years of age, which conduct, if directed toward a child under 18 years of age, would be a violation of this section, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), by imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
(b) Every person who violates this section after having entered, without consent, an inhabited dwelling house, or trailer coach as defined in Section 635 of the Vehicle Code, or the inhabited portion of any other building, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, and by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000).
(c) (1) Every person who violates this section shall be punished upon the second and each subsequent conviction by imprisonment in the state prison.
(2) Every person who violates this section after a previous felony conviction under Section 261, 264.1, 269, 285, 286, 287, 288.5, or 289, or former Section 288a, any of which involved a minor under 16 years of age, or a previous felony conviction under this section, a conviction under Section 288, or a felony conviction under Section 311.4 involving a minor under 14 years of age shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or six years.
(d) (1) In any case, in which a person is convicted of violating this section and probation is granted, the court shall require counseling as a condition of probation, unless the court makes a written statement in the court record, that counseling would be inappropriate or ineffective.
(2) In any case in which a person is convicted of violating this section, and as a condition of probation, the court prohibits the defendant from having contact with the victim, the court order prohibiting contact shall not be modified except upon the request of the victim and a finding by the court that the modification is in the best interest of the victim. As used in this paragraph, “contact with the victim” includes all physical contact, being in the presence of the victim, communication by any means, any communication by a third party acting on behalf of the defendant, and any gifts.
Sex with a Child Under Age of 10 (PC 288.7(a))
California Penal Code Section 288.7(a): Under this law, it is illegal to engage in sexual activity with a child under the age of 10. If you are convicted of this crime, you face 25 years to life in state prison.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ’s) ABOUT CHILD MOLESTATION:
- What Is Child Molestation?
- What Is Child Molestation under California Law?
- Are There Defenses to Charges of Annoying or Molesting a Child (PC 647.6)?
What Is Child Molestation?
Most people think of “child molestation” as a crime that is about an adult performing sexual acts on a minor, such as touching the child’s genitals, breasts or buttocks, or forcing the child to touch those parts of the adult’s body. However, as we discuss below, the crime is much broader than that, and you can be charged with child molestation in California without ever touching the child. If that happens to you, you should seek the help of an experienced child molestation defense attorney as soon as possible.
What Is Child Molestation under California Law?
Under California Penal Code section 647.6, it is a crime to “annoy or molest” any child under the age of 18. For the purposes of this crime, the prosecutor must prove that your conduct was:
- Motivated by a sexual interest in the specific child victim or children in general; and
- Was conduct that is likely to irritate, disturb, or be observed by the child or other children.
A child molestation case can often be decided on this second element. Breaking this down further, the conduct must be directed at a child or children and be the kind of conduct that a normal person without hesitation would find disturbing, irritating, or would cause injury.
Though the crime often involves touching a child, the elements of the crime mean that the conduct need not be the kind where a child is touched. For example, if you are accused of discussing with a 15-year-old your favorite sexual activities, you can be charged with this crime under Penal Code 647.6, even though you did not touch any children.
Are There Defenses to Charges of Annoying or Molesting a Child (PC 647.6)?
If you are charged with Annoying or Molesting a Child under Penal Code section 647.6, an experienced sex crimes defense attorney can help you by the use of various proven defense strategies. A number of defenses are available, including:
- A good faith mistaken belief that the child was age 18 or older;
- The child or the accuser lied;
- Your acts were not directed at a child or children;
- Your conduct was not motivated by sexual interest in a child or children; or
- The conduct would not be found by a normal person without hesitation to be irritating, disturbing, or injurious.
In addition, California law prohibits charging a crime once the statute of limitations has expired for the crime. The crime of annoying or molesting a child carries a statute of limitation of one year for misdemeanors, and three years for felony charges. For more on this topic, you can read our article on statutes of limitations here.
Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
Wallin and Klarich has been successfully defending those accused of annoying or molesting a minor pursuant to Penal Code Section 647.6 for over 38 years. Our law firm will fight for your freedom and criminal record when you hire us to help you. You will be a part of our team as we discuss the facts of the case and how to best present our defense on your behalf. Contact us today for a no obligation phone consultation so we can explain to you in more detail how we can help you.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance, and Victorville, there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney experienced in sex crimes defense near you, no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (714) 386-7124 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.
BEST SEX CRIMES ATTORNEY IN LOS ANGELES
Wallin & Klarich has been defending Southern California for over 38 years in their time of legal need. Our sex crime defense attorneys have received countless stellar 5-star reviews on Yelp from many happy clients we have represented throughout Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego Counties. We have received an A+ accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, voted TOP OC Lawyers in OCMetro, a 10/10 AVVO rating, and boast a 5.0 out of 5.0 score from Lawyers.com.
If you or a loved one has been accused of Annoying or Molesting a Child, there is no time to waste. Call the Wallin & Klarich Law Firm today. With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance, and Victorville, there is a child molestation attorney experienced in sex crimes defense near you.