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PENAL CODE 647.6 Crimes
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Annoying or Molesting a Child
PC 647.6 Law, Sentence, & Defense
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), 647.6(b), and more. This articles coves the law, penalties, and common defenses related to PC 647.6 crimes. For more information, contact our sex crimes criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation.
Note: For brevity, in San Bernardino County criminal court, most of the annoy or molest a child criminal charges are identified simply as PC647.6(a)(1)-M, PC647.6(a)(2)-M, PC647.6(b)-F, etc..
PC 647.6 Laws (Most Common)
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 evidence of sexual motivation is found in the actual language that is used by the defendant.
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.).
Note: An unnatural sexual interest in children means an abnormal sexual interest in children. For purposes of criminal court, unnatural and/or abnormal sexual interest in children will likely be found if there is any sexual interest in children.
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. and Paraphrased).
In order for the district attorney 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 prove, in addition to the elements listed above, that the defendant entered a residence, or a part of a residence, to commit PC 647.6(a)(1) or PC 647.6(a)(2), without consent
Important: PC 647.6 allegations do not require evidence that the defendant actually touched, or even attempted to actually touch, the alleged victim. If the defendant is alleged to have actually touched the minor during an attempt to annoy or molest a child, 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 messages to a person who is under the age of 18. Messages are usually sent through texts or social media sites
Sending sexual photographs through texts or social media sites
Verbally directing sexual language in an abnormal way to a person 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 a felony or as a misdemeanor (wobbler offense). 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.
Note: 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 an annoy or molest a child crime (PC 647.6(c)(1)),
or if the defendant has previously been convicted of a sex crime (PC 647.6(c)(2).
Probation Sentence: Probation may be available in cases of annoying or molesting a child depending on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history. Probation is a period of supervision (1-3 years in most PC 647.6 cases). Probation sentences usually carry some period of work release or house arrest in lieu of an actual jail or prison sentence. All terms of probation must be followed in order to avoid an actual jail or prison sentences. For more information, see Work Release & Violations of Probation.
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 at a later date). 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 jail within one (1) week of sentencing (PC 1203.097(a)(4)). Of course, if the defendant does not receive a jail sentence, then he will be booked at the jail (or prison) upon arrival to serve his sentence. This means that in all PC 647.6 cases, where the defendant is found guilty (or pleads guilty or "no contest,"), the defendant will eventually be "booked" at jail.
PC 1170(h) 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. For more information, see PC1170(h) Sentencing.
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 will receive two days of incarceration credit for every day that he actually 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). For more information on sex offender registration, including the length of registration for PC 647.6, see Sex Offender Registration
Crime of Moral Turpitude: PC 647.6 crimes are considered crimes involving moral turpitude, which means that PC 647.6 crimes are considered to be morally wrong. Crimes of moral turpitude carry special consequences for non United States citizens and defendants who possess a professional license, such as doctors, dentists, lawyers, nurses, teachers, etc. For more information, see CIMT.
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 immigration status, loss of professional or occupational license, loss of rights (including loss of the right to own firearms for felony PC 647.6 convictions), criminal protective orders (CPO), civil lawsuits, mandatory child abuse classes, victim restitution, loss of military service options, harsh probation or parole terms, sex offender registration, 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 annoy or molest a child. These common defense include, but are not limited to, the following:
Insufficient Evidence: Insufficient evidence is not a true defense; rather, if the district attorney cannot prove every element of the PC 647.6 allegation, then the allegation should be dismissed (or plead to a lesser charge through plea bargain). This means that in some cases the prosecutor might have a difficult time proving his case with only "he said, she said" evidence, or where there is no indication as to source of alleged sexual messages (creator of text or email messages, etc.), or to whom the sexual messages or sexual conduct is directed (misdirected messages).
Reasonable Mistake: A reasonable mistake as to the age of the alleged victim may be a valid defense in PC 647.6 cases. For example, if the defendant truly believes she is sending sexual messages to an adult, but in reality the alleged victim is a minor, then the defendant may claim a reasonable and honest mistake as a defense.
Illegal Search & Seizure: The defendant is Constitutionally entitled to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures of her property. Additionally, a warrant is typically needed to seize defendant's property when there is no emergency. This means that in a PC 647.6 case, law enforcement must usually have a warrant, supported by probable cause, before the defendant's property may be confiscated and search (i.e. cell phones, computers, house, etc.). If law enforcement violates this right of the defendant then any evidence seized as part of their case might be excluded.
Coerced Confessions: Many annoy or molest a minor cases are supported with weak evidence initially (i.e. ambiguous conduct alleged on the part of the defendant, lack of proof of source of alleged sexual messages, etc.); therefore, law enforcement will endeavor to gain a defendant's confession, which is generally considered strong evidence against the defendant. The problem is that sometime law enforcement will overreach in their effort to gain the defendant confession. This overreach can lead to unreliable "confessions" because of the coercive nature and goal-oriented questioning under which the defendant's statements were made.
Note: A confession that is made involuntary is always subject to exclusion from evidence; however, a "coerced confession" is often allowed as evidence against the defendant at trial, but the jury can decide whether or not the statement is reliable under the circumstances. For more information, see Coerced Confessions.
Statute of Limitations: The statute of limitations in most misdemeanor cases is one year; however, in PC 647.6(a)(1) and PC 647.6(a)(2) cases, the California legislature has carved out an exception to the one year statute of limitations for these misdemeanors.
Note: The statute of limitations for PC 647.6(a)(1) and PC 647.6(a)(2) is three years from the date of alleged incident. In felony PC 647.6 cases, the statute of limitations remains at three years from the date of the alleged incident.
Entrapment: In some PC 647.6(a)(2) cases, where law enforcement poses as a minor victim in order capture alleged sex offenders, the police overreach in their effort to arrest. When law enforcement "creates" the crime that otherwise would not exist, or where law enforcement induces a person to commit a crime where the defendant was not predisposed to commit the alleged crime, then law enforcement might have entrapped the defendant. Entrapment conduct can lead to a dismissal of the PC 647.6(a)(2) allegations. For more information, see Entrapment Defense.
PC 647.6(b) Specific Defense: If the defendant is charged with entering a house without consent in order to commit a PC 647.6(a)(1) or PC 647.6(a)(2) offense, then the defendant will be charged with a felony offense under PC 647.6(b) [See PC 647.6(b) above). In this situation, the defendant might have a violation-specific defense if she can show that she had either implied consent, or express consent to enter the residence. The defendant does not have to admit a violation of Penal Code 647.6(a)(1) or PC 647.6(a)(2) in order to make this defense.
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 (PC 1001.95(e)(1)).
More PC 647.6 Defenses
Other defenses that might apply to a PC 647.6 case include, but are not limited to, the following: insanity, untimely prosecution (Serna Motion), alibi, jury nullification, and more. For more information, see Defenses to Crime.
Post-Conviction Options: If the defendant is convicted of PC 647.6(a)(1) or PC 647.6(a)(2), then post-conviction option include, but are not limited to, the following: appeal the misdemeanor conviction, withdraw a guilty plea, expunge the conviction, modify probation terms, modify a criminal protective order, motion to be removed from sex offender registration, and more.
For a felony conviction of annoy or molest a minor, all of the above post-conviction options apply, but there are additional post-conviction options, including: possible certificate of rehabilitation and/or California Governor's Pardon, reduction of a felony conviction to a misdemeanor conviction (PC 17(b)), and more.
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, including annoying or molesting a child charges filed under PC 647.6(a)(1) and more. Our sex crimes attorneys are available for private consultations seven days a week. Call today!
Quick Reference Sheet
Crime: Annoying or Molesting a child
Code: PC 647.6(a)(1) (CalCrim No. 1121 & 1122)
Wobbler (No): PC 647.6(a)(1) is not a wobbler. PC 647.6(a)(1) is charged as a misdemeanor.
Incarceration: Misdemeanor jail sentence up to 1 year.
Probation: Probation may be available in PC 647.6(a)(1) cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.
Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.
Strike: PC 647.6(a)(1) is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.
Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.
CIMT: PC 647.6(a)(1)is not a crime involving moral turpitude.
Bail: $50,000 (San Bernardino County).
Registration: If convicted of PC 647.6(a)(1), the defendant is required to register as a sex offender with law enforcement.
Note: More penalties, direct or indirect, may apply. This info is created for that purpose only; accuracy not guaranteed. No attorney/client relationship is formed by use of this info. If arrested or charged with a crime contact a criminal defense lawyer without delay. PC647.6(a)(1)-M Info.
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PC 647.6 Related Laws
PC 647.6(a)(1) Every person who annoys or molests any child under 18 years of age shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both the fine and imprisonment.
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, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), by imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
PC 647.6(b) Every person who violates this section after having entered, without consent, an inhabited dwelling house, or trailer coach as defined in Section 635 of the Vehicle Code, or the inhabited portion of any other building, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, and by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000).
PC 647.6(c)(1) Every person who violates this section shall be punished upon the second and each subsequent conviction by imprisonment in the state prison.
PC 647.6(c)(2) Every person who violates this section after a previous felony conviction under Section 261, 264.1, 269, 285, 286, 287, 288.5, or 289, or former Section 288a, any of which involved a minor under 16 years of age, or a previous felony conviction under this section, a conviction under Section 288, or a felony conviction under Section 311.4 involving a minor under 14 years of age shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or six years.
PC 647.6(d)(1) In any case in which a person is convicted of violating this section and probation is granted, the court shall require counseling as a condition of probation, unless the court makes a written statement in the court record, that counseling would be inappropriate or ineffective.
PC 647.6(d)(2) In any case in which a person is convicted of violating this section, and as a condition of probation, the court prohibits the defendant from having contact with the victim, the court order prohibiting contact shall not be modified except upon the request of the victim and a finding by the court that the modification is in the best interest of the victim. As used in this paragraph, “contact with the victim” includes all physical contact, being in the presence of the victim, communication by any means, any communication by a third party acting on behalf of the defendant, and any gifts.
PC 647.6(e) Nothing in this section prohibits prosecution under any other provision of law.
PC 290 (Abbrev.)
Sections 290 to 290.024, inclusive, shall be known, and may be cited, as the Sex Offender Registration Act. All references to “the Act” in those sections are to the Sex Offender Registration Act (PC 290(a)).
Every person described in subdivision (c), for the period specified in subdivision (d) while residing in California, or while attending school or working in California, as described in Sections 290.002 and 290.01, shall register with the chief of police of the city in which the person is residing, or the sheriff of the county if the person is residing in an unincorporated area or city that has no police department, and, additionally, with the chief of police of a campus of the University of California, the California State University, or community college if the person is residing upon the campus or in any of its facilities, within five working days of coming into, or changing the person’s residence within, any city, county, or city and county, or campus in which the person temporarily resides, and shall register thereafter in accordance with the Act, unless the duty to register is terminated pursuant to Section 290.5 or as otherwise provided by law (PC 290(b))
The following persons shall register: Every person who..., has been or is hereafter convicted in any court... of a violation of Section 187 committed in the perpetration, or an attempt to perpetrate, rape, or any act punishable under Section 286, 287, 288, or 289 or former Section 288a, Section 207 or 209 committed with intent to violate Section 261, 286, 287, 288, or 289 or former Section 288a, Section 220, except assault to commit mayhem, subdivision (b) or (c) of Section 236.1, Section 243.4, Section 261, paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of former Section 262 involving the use of force or violence for which the person is sentenced to the state prison, Section 264.1, 266, or 266c, subdivision (b) of Section 266h, subdivision (b) of Section 266i, Section 266j, 267, 269, 285, 286, 287, 288, 288.3, 288.4, 288.5, 288.7, 289, or 311.1, or former Section 288a, subdivision (b), (c), or (d) of Section 311.2, Section 311.3, 311.4, 311.10, 311.11, or 647.6, former Section 647a, subdivision (c) of Section 653f, subdivision 1 or 2 of Section 314, any offense involving lewd or lascivious conduct under Section 272, or any felony violation of Section 288.2; any statutory predecessor that includes all elements of one of the offenses described in this subdivision; or any person who since that date has been or is hereafter convicted of the attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the offenses described in this subdivision (PC 290(c)(1) Abbrev.).
PC 1203.097(a) [Abbrev.] If a person is granted probation for a crime in which the victim is a person defined in Section 6211 of the Family Code, the terms of probation shall include all of the following:
A minimum period of probation of 36 months, which may include a period of summary probation as appropriate (PC 1203.097(a)(1)).
A criminal court protective order protecting the victim from further acts of violence, threats, stalking, sexual abuse, and harassment, and, if appropriate, containing residence exclusion or stay-away conditions (PC 1203.097(a)(2)).
Notice to the victim of the disposition of the case (PC 1203.097(a)(3)).
Booking the defendant within one week of sentencing if the defendant has not already been booked (PC 1203.097(a)(4)).
FC 6211 (Abbrev.): “Domestic violence” is abuse perpetrated against any of the following persons:
A spouse or former spouse FC 6211(a).
A cohabitant or former cohabitant..., (FC 6211 Abbrev.).
A person with whom the respondent is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship (FC 6211(c)).
A person with whom the respondent has had a child, where the presumption applies that the male parent is the father of the child of the female parent... (FC 6211(d) Abbrev.).
A child of a party or a child who is the subject of an action under the Uniform Parentage Act..., (PC 6211(e) Abbrev.).
Any other person related by consanguinity or affinity within the second degree (FC 6211(f)).