Children are vulnerable to harm and naïvely trust anyone since they may not be mature enough to discriminate between ill and right intentioned people. They may be manipulated and overcome physically. Hence some people become extra vigilant in an attempt to save the children from child predators. This vigilance can lead to suspicion and false accusation for annoying or molesting a child. The Orange County Criminal Lawyer team is experienced in handling child molestation cases to establish whether a piece of evidence exists for your charges and defend you in court.

What Is Molesting or Annoying a Child?

Molesting or annoying a child is the crime that covers all acts, whether physical or through a word that disturbs or irritates a child. This implies annoying a child verbally without physical contact is enough for charges to be introduced against you. A child in this is anybody below the age of 18 years.

Reasons Offenders Molest Children

Children are mostly molested by people who have been friendly to them and gained their trust. They get to learn about the likes and dislikes of the child. They also give them treats and create time to be alone with them. The molesters pose as people who can be relied upon, such as being the fatherly figure for single-parent children. The molester then begins making sexual advances such as telling sex-laced jokes and games.

These advances are meant to test the defensiveness of the child or their tolerance. The curious children oblivious of their intentions often fall into the baited traps. The molesting can be in the form of pornography, masturbation, sexual intercourse, fondling, and many other ways. Molesters manipulate the children to make them feel that they are responsible for the abuse. The children do not open up. The subtlety is well crafted to ensure that the child does not expose the molester.

The following are the reasons why molesters abuse children:

  1. Satisfaction of Desires

Molesters may abuse the children to relieve themselves of their intense sexual desires. Abusing children makes them feel powerful and dominant. The need to manage their turbulent emotions and appear good before the eyes of others makes them ride on the stormy sea of child abuse.

  1. Living in Delusion

Some people do not feel any harm abusing children since they have convinced themselves it is right to do so. The feeling of importance compared to children makes them abuse minors. For some men, the masculinity hegemony makes them want to dominate everybody sexually, including children. They also take the consent of the child as a reason to excuse their abuse.

  1. Psychological Turmoil

Some molesters are psychologically perverted. They lack a sense of empathy and cannot keep healthy social circles. Some also struggle with sexual fantasies and lack of control of sexual emotions. When an opportunity to act presents itself, they end up molesting children.

  1. Rough Life Experiences

Some molesters have had a rough life at one point. Some could have been sexually abused and live with feelings of revenge. They try acting out what was done to them by their abusers. The molesters might have lived without siblings or a caring network. They intrude into the inner circle of kids and thus get the opportunity to abuse them.

Facing Annoying or Molesting a Child Charges

Once you have been accused in court for annoying or molesting a child, the prosecutor must prove the following:

  • The suspected person engaged or committed an act that was targeted to a child.

  • Any other normal person would be offended, annoyed, injured, or disturbed by the action were they the recipient of the suspect’s conduct.

  • An unnatural sexual interest fostered the suspect’s behavior.

  • At the time the defendant did the annoying act to the victim, the plaintiff was below 18 years old.

The child does not need to be necessarily annoyed so long as the conduct could have offended him/her. Also, physical contact is not necessarily so long as there is a medium through which the molesting contact could have or reaches them. The defendant may annoy a child through a text message, a video, a call, or a picture sent through the communication media or physically molesting. The content could contain sexual content. The defendant does not need to be sure they are molesting a child as long as he/she believes the recipient of the content is a child. For instance, when an undercover investigating expert poses as an underage child, the defendant can be held guilty.

Penalties for Molesting a Child Under California Law

The law does not render any difference between molesting and annoyance. They are similar. They are used interchangeably to refer to any conduct that may irritate or offend a child once they observe it. Annoying or molesting a child attracts a misdemeanor charge California Penal Code 647.6 PC which is punishable by:

  • A jail term for not more than one year in the county prison and /or

  • A maximum fine of $5,000

The violation of California Penal Code 647.6 PC after gaining access to an inhabited home or dwelling constitutes a wobbler offense chargeable as either a misdemeanor or a felony. It remains the discretion of the prosecutor to charge you with either a felony or a misdemeanor. When charged as a misdemeanor, the penalties mentioned above apply.

When the wobbler offense is charged as a felony, the penalty upon conviction is a jail term for a maximum of one year in a California state prison. If one has ever been convicted for committing a felony, any subsequent violation of other sex crimes codes, such as:

Penal Code 647.6 PC always attracts a felony charge punishable of a maximum one-year imprisonment in California state prison. However, a first-time offense of California Penal Code 647.6 PC attracts a felony charge if one had been convicted of other sex-related crimes, such as:

  • Having raped a minor under the age of sixteen

  • Having committed a lewd act in public involving a minor

  • Having a record of continuous child abuse

  • Having been convicted of child pornography

A conviction for violating California Penal Code 647.6 PC when one has a history of committing the above-listed crimes attracts imprisonment ranging from two to six years in state prison.

Sometimes the judge may consider giving probation instead of a jail term or a fine as required by law. The judge out of their discretion thinks about giving you probation considers the following factors:

  • The particulars of your criminal history

  • The possibility of one being a threat to children

  • The circumstances surrounding your child molesting offense

There are two types of probations:

Summary Probation

The summary probation is mostly handed to first-time and minor offenders. According to California state law, the misdemeanor probation can last between one to three years, although through the discretion of the judge, the probation extends up to 5 years. The purpose of the probation is to secure the public, reform the offender, and seek justice for the molested child. One spends most of this period doing community service and paying the fine. The convicted person must attend counseling sessions during probation. In regular times as the jury dictates, the person appears for evaluation of reform progress. If the offender fails to comply with the regulations, the judge can revoke the probation and instead sentence them to a jail term. Other conditions that a convict must comply with are:

  • Seeking an income-generating activity

  • Avoid alcohol and substances abuse and enlist in a drug rehabilitation program

  • Not to drive with any form of intoxication and accept BAC check up all the time

  • Fixing in their automobiles an ignition interlock device

  • Abiding by all the laws

While going through misdemeanor probation, one is not restricted to travel. However, the practical requirements such as counseling sessions, community service, and reporting to the judges make it difficult for the convict to leave the state.

The violation to appear may lead to an arrest warrant being issued by the judge against you. A positive progress report, on the other hand, indicates compliance with the conditions of the probation. Some people will not accept being compliant with all these conditions hence may request a jail term instead. The law allows the judge to relieve the convicts who fulfill all the requirements of the probation. However, few judges do so.

Felony Probation

The probation period of a person convicted lasts between three to five years. The probation is a substitute for the jail sentence, or the judge may withhold the jail sentence if the convicted complies with all the requirements of the probation. One may be eligible for felony probation if they are charged with a felony, and the judge discerns they can be successfully rehabilitated in the county rehabilitation department. If the felony involved violence, the judges are unlikely to offer a felony probation option.

The following are factors considered when deciding for the option of placing one in felony probation:

  • The convict’s willingness to comply with the probationary terms

  • The serious of the crimes in comparison with others of the same nature

  • The effects of imprisonment on the convict and their dependents

  • The degree of loss to the molested child

  • The defendant’s prior criminal record

  • Whether the defendant was armed when molesting the child

  • The sophistication with which child annoying was carried

There are the counseling sessions that are relevant to the crime committed that a convict must attend. The convict must:

  • Always report to the assigned probation officer.

  • Restitute the victim their molesting as required by the jury

  • Comply with any other required imposed by probation and the jury

The judge has the mandate to send you to state prison if you violate the felony probation requirements.

Other Crimes Charged Alongside Annoying or Molesting a Child

Child molesting can be charged alongside other crimes due to the varied nature it can take. The other chargeable offenses are deduced by looking into the facts and circumstances of the first crime and carry additional sentences. Below are some of the crimes that one may be prosecuted for in accompaniment of child annoying:

  1. Participating in a Minor’s Delinquency

The child annoying or molesting offender may act in a way that encourages the child to commit a crime or become a delinquent. For one to be considered to have contributed to a minor’s delinquency, the following must be established:

  • The offender committed an act or neglected to do something.

  • Their behavior made a minor become delinquent, truant, or a juvenile dependent.

It does not matter whether the minor became a delinquent or a regular truant. The prosecutor only needs to show that the defendant’s actions could tend to make the minor commit a crime. Things such as making a minor abscond school attendance or taking alcohol are covered in this statute.

  1. Statutory Rape

One can also be charged for statutory rape alongside child molesting offense. The annoying or molesting statements could be those meant for seducing or enticing a minor into sexual relations. One is charged with statutory rape for developing sexual relations with a person who is not eligible to consenting to sex age-wise. Having a sexual relationship with minors even when they agree it is a crime. In statutory rape, charge the force accustomed to “rape” needs not to be there. The statutory rape is complete when an act of sexual penetration occurs between the minor and the offender. The age of the minors, typically below 16 years of age, makes it legally difficult to make a sexual relation decision with such sweeping consequences such as pregnancy.

The age of consent to sexual relations is different from the majority age, the threshold for general purposes privileges. However, the law in some states addresses specific cases of statutory rape cases where the offender and the minor are close in age using Romeo and Juliet laws. The difference in age can be used to establish whether one is guilty of statutory rape or reduce the charges from a misdemeanor to a felony according to the applicable state law.

The statutory rape charge attracts high fines and a jail term besides the mandatory listing as a sex offender. The punishment imposed is affected by:

  • The defendant’s record of offenses

  • The age gap between the victim and the offender

  • Whether the offender and the victim belong to the same household

  • The professional relationship between the actor and victim such as the actor being a teacher

  1. Committing a Lewd Act with a Minor

A child molesting offender can also be charged for committing a lewd act with a minor. According to California, the child needs to be under 14 years of age, and the lewd act is meant to gratify a sexual desire, arousing the child, or making sexual advances. Some of the depraved acts one can commit with a minor are:

  • Touching a child’s private parts such as genitals or anus while naked or over a clothing

  • Kissing a minor whether on body or lips

  • Doing oral sex with a child.

  • Forcing a child to remain naked or watch you naked

  • Fondling a girls breast in whatever manner

This type of crime would attract a felony charge, mainly if the offender acted in an offensive way towards the child.

Fighting the Child Annoying or Molesting Charge

The delicate nature of the child annoying or molesting charge requires an experienced attorney who has handled child molesting charges before. The following are some of the possible defenses that are put forward in a child molesting or annoying charges:

  1. The Rights of the Defendant Were Violated

The rights of the defendant may be violated when the police fail to issue Miranda warnings. As a result, any evidence obtained would not be admissible in court. Sometimes the police can gather evidence through coerced confession in the interrogation room. Once in police custody, the defendant is threatened with all sorts of dreadful expectations, such as being registered as a sex offender or never getting away with the crime. Because of the fear, the defendant end ups giving evidence according to what the police want to hear. This coercive evidence is always meant to implicate a suspect as guilty of a crime and is not admissible. This form of defense, however, is intended to dismantle specific evidence during the trial.

  1. Insufficient Evidence in the Child Molesting Charges

Sex crimes are always laced with inadequate evidence. Sometimes the frenzy of emotions involved from the plaintiff may stir the police and the prosecutor to be overzealous even when scanty evidence is in their hands to warrant the proceeding of child molesting charges. The prosecution could be lying to obtain a particular advantage.

False accusations occur in most sex crimes cases. The child or their representative could have raised fraudulent charges against you due to earlier grudges for example those harbored from marital disagreements or divorce. Here the defense needs to demonstrate that the evidence is insufficient as the plaintiff is using tricks to fix you through the child to settle scores. In other cases, the plaintiff could have coached the child into making a sex allegation against the defendant. So long as elements of the charge, as supported by the evidence, do not add up, you are not guilty.

The insufficiency of the evidence could also be due to the child having a history of lying or pre-existing prejudice towards the accused. Therefore the credibility of the child and the witness’s testimony is questionable. A thorough establishing of bias or a history of lying can be done from the hospital, school, social media, and any other internet platform of communication. The social network family and relatives can also be interrogated to establish the strength of the child’s testimony.

  1. A Mistake as to the Age of the Victim

The defense lawyer could argue that it could not be established, or nothing could make you reasonably understand you were talking to a minor. He should try to show that no direct evidence such as the minors mentioning their ages or indication of evidence such as the minors mentioning they are in lower grades of learning. A mistake in a minor's age as a defense varies according to the state laws in question.

  1. No Sexual Motivation

Another possible defense in the child molesting charge is proving that the allegedly annoying act was not motivated by unnatural sexual desire in the child. The motive could have been a congratulatory message or giving caution. A piece of satisfactory evidence is required here for this type of defense to work.

  1. The Conduct Does Not Offend or Annoy a Normal Person

Some conduct towards a minor could be done inadvertently and may annoy them. However, another normal person may not be disturbed by them. You may brush a minor’s breast accidentally, to which a normal woman may not find offending. In other instances, you may send a love text by mistake to a minor, which another person may not find offensive since it expresses care and concern. The defense attorney needs to scrutinize the evidence a great deal to strengthen this type of defense.

Consequences of Child Molesting Conviction

One may be ordered by the court to avoid and sever all contact with the child after a conviction for child annoying or molesting. This order is only modified when:

  • The victim the child requests for it

  • The court realizes its modification will work for the best interest of the victim.

Another effect of conviction for child annoying is registration as a sex offender. The first-time conviction earns a minimum of ten years in the record for the sex offense while the second-time conviction earns a minimum of twenty years for the sex offense. Any subsequent child-molesting offenses give a sex offender a lifetime registration for the offense. All the information on sex registration is made public on the Department of Justice website. In a misdemeanor conviction for violating California Penal Code 647.6 PC offenders can request relief from having their details published in the Department of Justice’s website. However, they should register as sex offenders. The cancellation from the sex offender registry is only possible for these types if they:

  • Present a certificate of rehabilitation which is recognized by the state

  • Successfully registers as sex offenders for the ten years required by the law.

Find an Orange County Criminal Lawyer Near Me

The hyper-vigilance from all who are out to protect children can land you innocently into an annoying a child under 18 case. You stand a chance of being defended by the top experienced lawyers in Orange County in case you find yourself in this situation. The Orange County Criminal Lawyer has handled numerous cases involving Child Molestation, hence, we will challenge the charges leveled against you. When evaluating your case, if the evidence for your offense is blatantly unchallengeable, we will bargain a plea on your behalf and advise you whether to accept the option of probation or to serve the reduced jail term. Call us today by dialing 714-262-4833 to get the necessary assistance.