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Annoying or Molesting a Minor
Law & Punishment
Information on the crimes of annoying or molesting a child are found at California Penal Code Sections 647.6(a)(1), 647.6(a)(2), and 647.6(b). This article is a brief overview of the law and punishment related to PC 647.6 crimes. For further information, contact our dedicated and experienced team of sex crimes criminal defense attorneys in the Inland Empire.
PC 647.6(a)(1): Every person who annoys or molests a child under 18 years of age is guilty of PC 647.6(a)(1), a misdemeanor (PC 647.6(a)(1) Abbr.).
Note: To sexually annoy or molest a child means to direct sexual language or behavior towards a child. The communication can be oral or written, such as through text messages, social media, email, etc.
PC 647.6(a)(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…, is guilty of a misdemeanor (PC 647.6(a)(2) Abbrev.).
Also, according to PC 647.6(a)(2), It is a crime even if the defendant's intended target is not actually a minor (See PC 647.6(a)(2) above) . This law allows police officers to pose as underage persons in order to catch what would otherwise be violators of PC 647.6(a)(1).
PC 647.6(b): Every person who violates PC 647.6 laws, after having entered, without consent, an inhabited dwelling house, or trailer coach..., or the inhabited portion of any other building…, is guilty of a felony or a misdemeanor (PC 647.6(b) Abbrev.).
To prove that the defendant is guilty of PC 647.6(a)(1), the district attorney must prove:
The defendant was motivated by an unnatural sexual interest in children (under 18)
When the defendant was motivated by unnatural an unnatural sexual interest in children, he or she directed sexual language or behavior towards a child (annoyed or molested).
The defendant knew, or reasonably should have known, that the child that the defendant sexually annoyed or molested was under the age of 18 (except that PC 647.6(a)(2) allows for criminal charges even if the victim is not actually a minor but the defendant believed the victim to a minor).
Note: If the defendant is charged with PC 647.6(b), then the district attorney must also prove that the defendant entered a residence to annoy or molest a child.
Important: PC 647.6 allegations do not require evidence that the defendant touched, or even attempted to touch, the minor child. If the defendant is alleged to have touched the minor, then the defendant will likely be charged with additional sex crimes, including lewd and lascivious acts on a minor, sexual battery, etc.
Evidence: Common evidence that supports PC 647.6(a)(1) charges, include, but is not limited to:
Sending sexual text messages to a child who is under the age of 18.
Sending sexual photographs through texts or social media sites
Verbally directing sexual language in an abnormal way to a child who is under the age of 18. This can be in person, via telephone, or through a third person who is directed to deliver sexual messages from the defendant to the person under the age of 18.
Jail Sentence: PC 647.6(a)(1) and PC 647.6(a)(2) are classified as misdemeanor crimes in California. If found guilty of either PC 647.6(a)(1) or PC 647.6(a)(2), the defendant may face up to one year in the county jail.
PC 647.6(b) Incarceration: Annoying or molesting a child after entering a residence without consent is classified as either a felony, or alternatively as a misdemeanor. If found guilty of felony PC 647.6(b) the defendant could face up to three years in prison; if found guilty of misdemeanor PC 647.6(b) the defendant could face up to one year in the county jail.
Felony charges of annoying or molesting a child may be filed in several situations:
If the defendant entered a home with the intent to annoy or molest a child (PC 647.6(b),
if the defendant has previously been found guilty of either annoy or molest a child, or a lewd and lascivious act upon a minor (PC 647.6(c)(1)), or
if the defendant has previously been convicted of a sex crime (PC 647.6(c)(2).
Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a period of supervision, as opposed to a jail or prison sentence. A probation sentence is allowed in PC 647.6 cases; however, a probation sentence after a conviction for any annoying or molesting a child conviction is not guaranteed. Whether or not the district attorney or judge agrees to a probation sentence after a penal code 647.6 violation depends on the facts of the case, and the defendant’s criminal history.
Also, probation sentences for PC 647.6 crimes usually come with some condition that the defendant serve some period of work release, house arrest, or incarceration.
Note: A misdemeanor probation sentence in a PC 647.6(a)(1) case, where the alleged victim is domestically related to the defendant, is no less than thirty-six (36) months by statute (PC 1203.097 & FC 6211). Domestically related means the defendant and the alleged victim are related by blood to the second degree of consanguinity (i.e., parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, cousin, sister, or brother of the alleged victim).
Booking Requirement: In some annoy or molest a child cases, the defendant is cite-released before court (released on his own recognizance by the police with an order to appear at criminal court in the future). However, if the defendant later receives a probation sentence for any PC 647.6 crime, then the defendant will be ordered to be booked at a county jail within one (1) week of sentencing (PC 1203.097(a)(4)).
Felony Prison Sentencing: In felony PC 647.6 cases, including PC 647.6(b) and PC 647.6(c)(1), the defendant might be granted probation (See Probation Sentence above); however, if the defendant is not granted a probation sentence for any felony PC 647.67 crime, then the defendant must serve his sentence in a California state prison, as opposed to a local county jail.
In addition, the prison sentence associated with any PC 647.6 violation may not be split (served partially in prison and partially out of prison on work release), or suspended (not served unless and until the defendant violates a condition of his out-of-custody release (PC 1170(h)).
Good Conduct Credits: All PC 647.6 crimes are eligible for "good conduct credits" up to fifty percent (50%). This means that if the defendant serves his jail or prison sentence with good behavior, then he or she will receive two days of incarceration credit for every day that he or she serves in jail, in prison, or while on work release.
Counseling: If the defendant is granted probation for a PC 647.6 crime, then the judge must order that the defendant attend counseling as one of the conditions of probation, unless the judge finds that counseling would be inappropriate or ineffective (PC 647.6(d)(1)).
Sex Offender Registration: In addition to a possible jail or prison sentence, if the defendant is found guilty of a PC 647.6 crime, he or she must register as a sex offender pursuant to California's sex offender registration laws (PC 290). The length of sex offender registration is ten (10) years for misdemeanor violations of PC 647.6, and twenty (20) years for felony violations of PC 647.6. For further information, see CA Tier System for Sex Offenders & Sex Offender Registration Requirements.
Crime of Moral Turpitude: PC 647.6 crimes are considered crimes involving moral turpitude, which means that to annoy or molest a child is considered to be morally wrong. Crimes of moral turpitude carry special consequences for non-United States citizens (deportation, denial of reentry into the U.S.), and defendants who possess a professional license, such as doctors, dentists, lawyers, nurses, teachers, etc., (loss, restriction, or denial of a professional license).
Additional Penalties: Finally, criminal convictions of annoying or molesting a child can carry any of the following punishments: court penalty fines and fees, loss of the right to own firearms for felony PC 647.6 convictions), criminal protective orders (CPO), civil lawsuits), victim restitution, harsh probation or parole terms, and more.
Every PC 647.6 case is different; therefore, every defense to a PC 647.6 case is different. With that said, there are some types of defenses that are more common against an allegation of annoying or molesting a child.
These common defenses include insufficient evidence to prove the allegation beyond a reasonable doubt, reasonable mistake as to the age of the alleged victim, lack of timely prosecution, consent to enter the home (for PC 647.6(b) cases), illegal search and seizure of evidence that is not allowed to be used in court (i.e., electronic media, illegal audio recordings, coerced confession, statute of limitations, entrapment, and more.
Note: The statute of limitations in most misdemeanor cases is one year; however, the statute of limitations for PC 647.6(a)(1) and PC 647.6(a)(2) criminal charges is three years from the date of the alleged incident. In felony PC 647.6 cases, the statute of limitations remains at three years from the date of the alleged incident.
Note: Judicial Diversion (PC 1001.95) specifically excludes any criminal charge where the defendant is required to register as a sex offender pursuant to PC 290 including an annoy or molest a minor criminal charge.
For more information, see Defense Strategies in CA Sex Crimes.
For more information on the crime of annoying or molesting a child, or PC 647.6 crimes, contact our sex crimes criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation. Our attorneys have successfully defended hundreds of sex cases in the Inland Empire, including criminal charges of annoying or molesting a child filed under PC 647.6(a)(1), and more. Our sex crimes attorneys are available for free and private consultations seven days a week. Call today!