Annoying or Molesting a Minor

While it is a widely known fact that inappropriate contact with a minor under the age of 18 is illegal, what is less well known is that physical contact is not required to be found guilty of annoying or molesting a child. In many cases, words alone can be enough to put people in legal trouble.

California Law

California Penal Code Section 647.6 makes it a crime to annoy or molest a child under the age of 18. Prosecutors must be able to prove these four elements in order to convict the defendant:

  • The defendant must have engaged in some form of contact directed at a person under the age of 18
  • A reasonable person would have been offended, irritated, injured, or disturbed by the conduct of the defendant
  • The conduct of the defendant was motivated by an abnormal or unnatural interest in the minor
  • The child was under the age of 18 when the conduct occurred.

The terms of “annoy” and “molest” refer to crimes against children and suggest an act committed by the defendant as a disturbing and irritating act motivated by an unusual and bizarre sexual interest in children. Examples of annoying and molesting behavior include:

  • James offers to show pornography to his girlfriend's 11-year-old son.
  • Mark asks his son's girlfriend, 15 years old, whether she likes to have sex.
  • Johnny sits outside his son's school and watches the young teenage girls walk by as he makes offensive sexual remarks to the girls and grabs his crotch.
  • Matt goes to the local water park and takes photographs specifically of children's buttocks as they play in the water.

Penalties for Annoying or Molesting a Child

Annoying or molesting a child is a misdemeanor in California. Individuals charged with this crime may face up to one year in jail and a fine of $5,000. These penalties are increased when aggravating factors are present. A felony conviction or any subsequent offenses could result in up to three years in prison. Those with previous, related criminal convictions, including rape of a minor under the age of 16, lewd acts with a minor, continuous sexual abuse of a minor, or possession of child pornography can result in a six-year prison sentence. Under California Penal Code Section 290 PC, a conviction for annoying and molesting a child requires lifetime sex offender registration.

Possible Defenses

Some legal defenses can be used against charges of annoying or molesting a child. These include:

  • The accuser was lying
  • The accuser was mistaken
  • The alleged misconduct was not likely to irritate or disturb a minor
  • The alleged misconduct was not motivated by a sexual interest
  • The child was manipulated or “coached” into making the accusation.

Aggressive Representation

A false accusation can ruin a person’s overall reputation, relationships, and career, and a conviction can rob a person of their freedom and future prospects. If you are facing allegations for annoying or molesting a child, you should contact a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer immediately. By acting quickly (before you speak to law enforcement) you can provide yourself with the representation you need to defend your rights and safeguard your future.

Experience matters in these types of cases. Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners has over 70 years of combined legal experience handling sex crimes. Our ability to thoroughly analyze cases and prepare strong defenses has made our firm well-known and respected and has allowed us to secure excellent results for our clients.

To learn more about how Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners may be able to help your case, call us today for a confidential, free consultation: (213) 481-6811.