Annoying or Molesting a Child – Penal Code 647.6 PC
Penal Code Section 647.6 PC describes the crime of annoying or molesting a child under 18 while you are motivated by an abnormal sexual interest. Physical contact with the victim is not always required to be charged with child molestation.
In the context of PC 647.6, the terms “annoying” or “molesting” means to engage in conduct likely to disturb or irritate a child and that the perpetrator was motivated by a sexual interest in the child.
As noted, no physical contact must occur to violate this law. Instead, words alone can be considered annoyance or molestation. Further, indirect sexual conduct, such as masturbation, can be viewed as a violation if done with the intent to be seen by the child or a group of children.
PC 647.6 says, “(a) (1) Everyone who annoys or molests any child under 18 years of age shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $5,000, by imprisonment in a county jail up to one year, or both. (2) Everyone who, motivated by an unnatural abnormal sexual interest in children, engages in conduct with an adult whom they believe is a child under 18 years of age.”
Subsection (b) says that anyone who violates this law after having entered, without permission, an inhabited dwelling house or the inhabited portion of any other building, will be fined and imprisoned.
Penal Code 647.6 PC annoying or molesting a child is a general intent crime, meaning that the perpetrator does not have to intend that their conduct is lewd or obscene or that their behavior irritated a child.
Put simply; this law mainly focuses on the conduct, not the result of such behavior. Our California criminal defense lawyers will review this state law in more detail below.
What Does the Law Say?
To be convicted of Penal Code 647.6 PC annoying or molesting a child, the prosecutor must be able to prove all the “elements of the crime” listed under California Criminal Jury Instructions 1122, including the following:
- The perpetrator engaged in conduct towards a minor under 18, and
- An average person would have been disturbed, irritated, or offended by the conduct, and
- The conduct was motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in the minor child.
PC 647.6 applies to everyone motivated by an abnormal sexual interest in a minor and does not require an intent to seduce the child.
What makes annoying or molesting a child different from many other sex crimes is that no touching or intent to seduce the child is required. Penal Code 288 PC lewd acts with a child is a closely related crime. Sexting becomes a crime when it involves a minor.
What are the Penalties for PC 647.6?
For a first offense, annoying or molesting a child is a misdemeanor offense punishable by:
- up to a year in county jail,
- a $5,000 fine, or both.
Suppose a defendant entered an inhabited dwelling house without consent during the crime. In that case, it's “wobbler” that can be filed as a misdemeanor or felony, which carries the following:
- 16 months, two or three years in state prison,
- a fine of up to $10,000,
- sex offender registration under Penal Code 290 PC.
If you have a prior conviction, any new charges will always be filed as a felony offense. The previous sex crime convictions include any of the following:
- Penal Code 311 PC – child pornography,
- Penal Code 288 PC – lewd acts on a child,
- Penal Code 289 PC - sexual penetration with a foreign object,
- Penal Code 288.5 PC – continuous sexual abuse of child,
- Penal Code 220 - assault with intent to commit a felony
- Penal Code 261.5 PC – statutory rape.
What Are the Defenses for PC 647.6?
The main downtown criminal courthouse (CCB) handles the most child molestation charges in Los Angeles county. Their central hub sexual prosecutors are based out of there.
The main hub number one prosecutors who make offers on these significant child molestation cases are housed at the Hall of Records, right across from 210 West Temple, the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
So, suppose you or a loved one is charged with child molestation. In that case, you want to get an attorney with experience who's handled these cases at the CCB courthouses and knows how to deal with these prosecutors, and all they do is prosecute child molestation cases.
I've been handling these cases now for 30 years. I started off working for the district attorney's office. I've worked for a superior court judge, and in the early 1990's I started defending people like you on these charges, and I've had much success in getting good results for my clients.
What we have you do is come into my office. We sit down. We go over all of the information related to your case, and the first thing we're trying to decide is whether or not this is the type of case we're going to fight or if this is the type of case we need to negotiate.
Once we make that decision, we'll put all guns to bear in dealing with and executing our plan. If we decide to fight the case, we'll have to investigate it.
We'll have to look through the jury instructions, see what evidence the prosecutors have, and decide what we might do to be able to defend the case, investigation-wise, and set up a strong defense. Some of the common defenses include:
- Your conduct was not motivated by a sexual interest in the child;
- Challenge the credibility of witnesses.
What is a Mitigation Package?
If we determine this is the case, we need to negotiate; we will sit down and formulate a negotiation strategy.
We'll put together what's called a mitigation package where we have character letters and all of the evidence that shows that they either have a weak case or this is an aberration that will never happen again. I'm a skilled litigator.
I know how to deal with these cases to get you the best possible result. We have you come in under the cloak of the attorney/client privilege, we talk about everything, and we get the plan together.
Sometimes these cases are easy to resolve; other times, they are more challenging to determine, but you must have a seasoned litigator on your time to get the best result because you're facing sex registration, jail time, prison time, and a whole host of other problems that can come along because of this type of offense.
So, if you need the best, pick up the phone now. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you. The Hedding Law firm is located in Los Angeles, CA.