Is it a Crime for an 18-Year-Old to Hug and Kiss a 17-year-old? | California Penal Code section 647.6
Most people believe that in this scenario if there was no intercourse then no crime was committed. This is false. Under section 647.6 of the California Penal Code it is a crime for any person to “annoy or molest any child under 18 years of age.”
Under Under California Penal Code section 647.6, even if no sexual intercourse was, this offense, with few exceptions, is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail, a fine not exceeding $5,000, or by both. Each subsequent conviction under this section is punishable as a felony. You can even be prosecuted under this section if the supposed minor was actually a decoy cop who was 18 years of age or older, so long as you believed the decoy to be under 18 years old and you were motivated by an “unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in children.” To make matters worse, this offense is a register-able offense under Penal Code section 290, meaning if you are convicted of this offense you can be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life.
What if Sexual Intercourse is Involved?
If the conduct moves from hugging and kissing to sexual intercourse, then the offense becomes more serious and can instead be prosecuted under Penal Code section 261.5. Penal Code section 261.5 is violated by “any person who engages in an act of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor….”
The crime is a misdemeanor when the minor is “not more than three years older or three years younger than the perpetrator….” The crime is a wobbler when the minor is “more than three years younger than the perpetrator….” When an offense is a wobbler it means that the crime can be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor. For example, if you are 19 and you have intercourse with a 17-year-old, then it would be a misdemeanor under Penal Code section 261.5. If you are 21 and have sex with a 17-year-old, then that is a wobbler under Penal Code section 261.5. Generally, the closer in age the two parties are the less likely that criminal charges will be filed.
Call Wallin & Klarich Today
In short, California’s laws with regard to sex offenses are complex and unforgiving, and the punishments can be severe, including lifetime registration as a sex offender on top of any jail or prison sentence. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have years of experience handling misdemeanor and felony sex cases and sex offender registration issues.
The aggressive attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are known for zealously representing their clients in order to provide them with the best defense possible. Call Wallin & Klarich today at (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will be there when you call.