Child molestation is an extremely serious criminal charge that’s aggressively pursued by law enforcement. If you’re accused of child molestation, you are not just looking at severe criminal penalties, but your professional and personal life could be shattered permanently as well. The key reason why child molestation charges are prosecuted aggressively is because protecting children is a priority in any society. This is also why the justice system and the public are inclined to believe the accuser even when the allegation made against the person is false. The public is also first to label an accused individual as a sex offender even before one gets to defend himself/herself. Although we all should protect children in the society, it should not come at the cost of prosecuting innocent individuals. Each child molestation case varies significantly founded on aspects such as the age of the victim and the act.
If you’re charged with child molestation, it’s imperative that you contact a highly skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Time is of the essence because your freedom, reputation, and future are at stake. Though the public and even some of your family members may abandon you at this trying time, Pasadena Criminal Attorney will be by your side fighting for your rights as a defendant. Our experience in criminal defense has enabled us to know all the investigative techniques that detectives and prosecutors employ. We will also develop an aggressive defense strategy to ensure you receive a fair treatment and the best possible outcome to your charges of child molestation. Call us today at 626-689-2277 or fill our online contact form.
What is Child Molestation Under California Penal Code 647.6?
The act of molesting or annoying a child is criminalized by California Penal Code 647.6. More often, the act of molestation is usually associated with physical, sexual abuse. As used in PC 647.6, the term “molesting” is just a synonym of the term “annoying.” Actually, there is no need for physical contact to occur for these charges to be filed against an individual. Words alone can be used for molestation and annoyance. There are also other acts that constitute child molestation. For instance, an indirect act of a sexual nature like masturbation observed by a child or group of children could also violate this code section.
Molesting or annoying a child is a conduct which is:
- Motivated by sexual interest in a child or children under 18 years of age, and
- is likely to irritate or disturb a child or children
There are facts that you must understand about this definition. First, there is no requirement for the child or children who are the subject of the conduct to be personally irritated or disturbed by the conduct in order for it to be considered a crime. Instead, PC 647.6 looks to find out if a reasonable or the average child would be irritated or disturbed by the actions. Also, the target of the conduct does not necessarily have to be a specific child. For instance, communicating to a group of children without referring to anyone child specifically can still result in criminal charges.
Child molestation is a general intent crime. This means that the is no need for the prosecution to prove that you had the intent to conduct the lewd act or annoy the child. Simply put, the code section does not focus on the end result but on the conduct itself. Therefore, you violate the law under Penal Code 647.6 if your conduct would irritate a normal child and would invade the privacy and security of a child. Child molestation is different from many other sex crimes in California in that, no touching or intent to seduce a child is required. If you or someone you know is facing child molestation charges, contact a child molestation criminal defense lawyer at out our offices immediately.
Investigating Child Molestation Allegations
Our culture considers child molestation to be one of the most heinous and grave crimes. These cases are inclined to get significant media coverage and to distress the community. Due to this, law enforcement agencies dedicate a lot of resources to investigating child molestation accusations, and formulating cases for trial. Numerous police organizations in California have exceptional units or departments that concentrate on the molestation or annoyance of children. The cases frequently go to investigators with specific training in handling child victims and forensic science.
Reasons for false allegations of child molestation
Many people don’t really understand the factors that would motivate a child to falsely accuse someone of such a terrible crime as child molestation. Those at high risk of being accused of child molestation are individuals who work with children. However, anyone can be accused even by their own children. It’s unfortunate that false accusations involving child molestations are on the rise in the United States. Some common reasons for the false allegation include:
- Someone would want to destroy another out of revenge, anger, and jealousy
- Emotional and psychological issues of the child which prompts him/her to make up stories
- Child custody disputes
- Children can be unduly influenced by adults to accuse another person of child molestation falsely
Private Defense Polygraph Examinations
Although polygraph examination or lie detector tests are normally allied to the police, the defense might carry out a private polygraph evaluation in California criminal cases. This permits the outcomes to be kept private in the event an individual fail. These examinations are normally done by a former police or FBI polygrapher who stands in good stead with the district attorney. If our client passes the lie test, the defense can take the results to the prosecutor. Although the polygraph cannot be admitted to court, it might persuade the prosecutor to drop the charges. If the client fails the test, the results are just destroyed without any further reference to them.
Penalties, Punishment, and Sentencing for Child Molestation
Penal Code 647.6 misdemeanor violations are those without aggravating conditions, and a first offense is a misdemeanor punishable by:
- A maximum of one (1) year in county jail or/and
- A maximum of five thousand dollars (US$ 5,000) in fine
Penal Code 647.6 PC “Wobbler” violations
Penal code 647.6 transforms into a “wobbler” if you molest or annoy a minor after you get in, without permission:
- An occupied residence,
- The occupied section of any building or
- A trailer coach
The prosecutor will look into various elements in determining to charge a wobbler crime as a felony or misdemeanor. Your criminal record and the prosecutor’s evaluation of whether you’re a risk to other children are vital to the decision. If sentenced under penal code 647.6 (b) as a misdemeanor, you face:
- A maximum of one (1) in county jail or/and
- A maximum of five thousand (US$5,000) dollars in fine
When charged as a felony, a sentence under Penal Code 647.6 (b) attracts up to 16 months, two (2) years or three (3) years in the California state prison
Penal Code 647.6 PC Felony violations
Molesting or annoying a minor is a felony if the defendant has a previous Penal code 647.6 PC. A second or successive sentence for child molestation will attract a penalty of a maximum of three (3) years in the California state prison. Every Penal Code 647.6 violation regardless of whether it’s the first is a felony as long as you have been convicted in the past a sex offense listed below:
- Penal Code 261, rape, of a minor under 16,
- Penal Code 311.4, child pornography
- Penal Code 288, lewd acts with a child,
- Penal Code 288.5, continuous sexual abuse of a child, and
Penal Code 647.6 violation with a record of a felony conviction of any of the above sex crimes is punishable by state prison sentence of two (2), four (4), or six (6) years.
Instead of the judge putting you behind bars, he can choose to have you serve probation. This is contingent on the judge view of you as being no danger to children. Additional factors that a judge can look at include your criminal record and the circumstances of the offense. This type of charge attracts two kinds of probations:
- Misdemeanor probation also referred to as “summary” probation, and
- Felony probation also referred to as formal probation.
Misdemeanor probation in California characteristically is for one and three years, though up to five years is conceivable. It includes circumstances like paying fines and doing community service. If you’re on misdemeanor probation, you are obliged to appear before a judge periodically for a progress report. Felony probation, on the other hand, characteristically lasts between three and five years. If you’re convicted to felony probation you must:
- Make victim compensation,
- Report to a probation officer, and
- Observe the conditions set forth by the judge and probation officer
Felony probation could also comprise up to one (1) year county jail instead of state prison. If you infringe on the conditions of your felony probation, the judge may send you to state prison. You could also be required to attend counseling. And if you are forbidden by court order from having contact with the accuser, the order will only be modified:
- If a request is made by the victim, and
- The court finds out the allowing for the modification is in the best interest of the victim
Sex offender registration
Penal Code 647.6 convictions are subject to registration as a sex offender. If you’re a first-time convict, you draw a tier one offense that carries a minimum of ten (10) years of sex offender registration, a second or successive sentence is a tier two crime carrying a minimum of twenty (20) years of sex offender registration. You are going to be listed on the Department of Justice’s Megan’s law Website which is public.
In California, a Senate Bill 384 formed a three-tier scheme for sex cataloging; before this scheme, annoying a minor attracted lifetime registration which is now taken care by tier three registrations. If your Penal Code 647.6 offense is a misdemeanor, you could appeal for exclusion from the Megan's Law website. You should, still, however, stay registered as a sex offender except and until you successively acquire a California certificate of rehabilitation or you were faithful in the annual registration for which the court will allow you to get off the registry.
Attacking the Trustworthiness of the Purported Victim
False accusations of child molestation are common. Proof submits that a lot of innocent adults have been apprehended, arraigned and sentenced on allegations of child molestation that never occurred. A lot of cases involving Penal Code 647.6 are usually prosecuted on the alleged victim’s word. In cases such as this, jury members and prosecutors are persuaded to believe that a minor cannot lie about molestation assertions. But, your child molestation lawyer can be able to demonstrate that the purported victim is not telling the truth by attacking their credibility. Your defense lawyer must conduct widespread research, digging up anything in the purported victim’s past, from behavior at school to social media post, to demonstrate a predisposition to lie and a sequence of bad behavior, in order to show that the alleged victim should not be trusted. Your attorney might be able to expose a reason for lying. For instance, a minor might accuse their teacher of child molest to get back at them for giving him/her poor grades.
Contact a Child Molestation Defense Attorney
If you’ve been arrested or under investigation for child molestation, you shouldn’t make any statements to law enforcement. Anything you say, even if you’re just innocently giving your side of the story, could end up hurting you. Police will focus on their job; building a criminal case and making an arrest. Don’t let them trick you into helping them convict you. Instead, contact a Los Angeles child molestation defense attorney at our law offices as soon as possible. Our attorneys will start preparing a solid defense strategy by reviewing all the facts of your case.
With an attorney by your side, you will be able to minimize the harsh consequences that could come with a child molestation conviction. We will fight tooth and nail to keep the case out of court. Early intervention is vital in these types of cases. Our attorneys are highly experienced in child molestation accusations with a proven track record of success. We always ensure that you get the guidance you need throughout the legal process. Our goal is to get the charges dropped and your freedom restored. Contact Pasadena Criminal Attorney today at 626-689-2277 to review the details of your case and discuss legal options.