Orange County Child Molestation Attorneys
Califorina Penal Code section 647.6(a)(1) prohibits a person from annoying or molesting a child. A child is someone under the age of 18. California Penal Code section 647.6(a)(2) criminalizes the exact same conduct if that person is dealing with an adult whom they think is a child. This second section of Penal Code section 647.6 is a direct result of the “To Catch a Predator” television series. Penal Code section 647.6(a), whether it’s a violation of subdivision (1) or (2), is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail. California Penal Code section 647.6(b) makes it a wobbler if the person violates this section after entering an inhabited dwelling without consent. Penal Code section 647.6(c) makes it a felony if a person already has a prior conviction for this conduct, punishable by 16 months, 2 years or 3 years state prison. If a person has certain other specified sex convictions, then pursuant to Penal Code section 647.6(c)(2), then the crime is a felony and the punishment is 2 years, 4 years or 6 years. Any conviction of Penal Code section 647.6, whether it’s a misdemeanor conviction or felony conviction, requires lifetime registration as a sex-offender under Penal Code section 290.
Elements of Penal Code section 647.6
In order for the prosecution to convict someone of the annoying / molesting a child, the People must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. The defendant engaged in conduct directed at a child;
2. A normal person, without hesitation, would have been disturbed, irritated, offended, or injured by the defendant’s conduct;
3. The defendant’s conduct was motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in the child; AND
4. The child was under the age of 18 years at the time of the conduct.
It is not necessary that the child actually be irritated or disturbed – as long as a normal person would have been irritated or disturbed by the defendant’s conduct. It is also not necessary for the child to have been touched, and the child’s consent, if any, is irrelevant.
If the defendant were charged a violation of Penal Code section 647.6(b), then the People would have to also prove that the defendant entered an inhabited dwelling without consent and after entering that dwelling, he engaged in conduct directed at a child.
Examples of Annoying / Molesting a Child
This crime is considered a “catch-all” type of offense. The prosecution will allege this crime in sex cases where they believe the defendant’s conduct is wrong, but it does not amount to a felony, or in cases where the defendant’s conduct does not meet the strict requirements of other crimes. Here are some examples of cases involving charges of Penal Code section 647.6 that our office has defended:
— adult touching a 15 year old girl’s butt in a store, without the girl’s consent
— adult kissing and fondling a 15-year old girl in an apartment, with the girl’s consent
— adult secretly videotaping teenage step-daughter in the bathroom
Fortunately for our clients, we successfully defended each of the above cases and none of our clients were convicted of this crime or had to register as sex offenders.
It is possible for Penal Code section 647.6 to be charged in sexting cases between an adult defendant and a minor, as well.
Defenses to Misdemeanor Child Molestation
Defenses in cases involving Penal Code section 647.6 are very fact specific, but besides saying that the conduct did not occur, the best possible defense is to attack the mental state required. If the defendant’s conduct was not motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in the child, then the defendant is not guilty of the crime.
Another defense would be if the defendant actually and reasonably believed that the child was at least 18 years of age. This defense must be reasonable – for example, the defendant met the alleged victim at a nightclub where only adults are allowed entrance.
Other Consequences of Penal Code Section 647.6 Conviction
Not only can an annoying / molesting child conviction lead to criminal penalties, but it can also have drastic employment, licensing and immigration consequences. Annoying / molesting a child is considered a crime of moral turpitude. Having a Penal Code section 647.6 conviction can prevent a person from finding a job or lead to a person being fired from their current job. Furthermore, many professions that require licensing from a state board, such as doctors, nurses, lawyers, contractors, teachers, real estate agents and stock brokers, all require background checks. A professional who has a Penal Code section 647.6 conviction on their record risks losing their professional license, or never acquiring it in the first place. Perhaps the most severe impact of a conviction for annoying / molesting a child involves immigration consequences. Non-citizens who are permanent residents or temporary visitors with a visa, can be denied admission, denied naturalization or most likely deported, with an annoying / molesting child conviction on their record. In fact, Penal Code section 647.6 convictions are considered one of the worst convictions for immigration consequences.
The Right Lawyers
Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer will be the most important decision someone can make when facing an annoying / molesting child charge. Many people who face misdemeanor Penal Code section 647.6 charges are good people who made a mistake or exercised poor judgment. There are also some people who have been wrongfully accused of annoying / molesting a child based on a misunderstanding or false evidence. You need an attorney who will listen to your side of the story carefully, who will evaluate the evidence thoroughly, who will negotiate with the judge and the District Attorney’s office skillfully, and who will fight in trial aggressively. You need the Law Offices of Fred Thiagarajah.
All of our attorneys have either worked at the District Attorney’s Office or the Public Defender’s Office. Whether it’s negotiation or trial, our attorneys have the training and experience to get the best results for our clients on their criminal cases and their immigration consequences. Our attorneys have worked in the Sexual Assault unit of the District Attorney’s Office and use their specialized knowledge of sex crimes to defend our clients, including those accused of misdemeanor child molestation or misdemeanor child annoyance. For an example of our work, please see our case results and read our client testimonials. With offices in Newport Beach, Long Beach, Murrieta, Riverside and Rancho Cucamonga, our team of attorneys have the right criminal defense experience in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
The Right Lawyers. The Right Results.
Make The Right Choice.
CALL NOW FOR A FREE CONSULTATION