Every crime in California is defined by a specific code section. Our attorneys explain the law, penalties and best defense strategies for every major crime in California.
Per Penal Code 647.6 PC, child annoyance is a type of criminal conduct in California that occurs when:
Annoying a child is an offense in California that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Fortunately for persons accused of the crime, legal defenses do exist to challenge child annoyance accusations. For example, a defendant can try to show that a child or an accuser was lying.
Penal Code 647.6 is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to annoy or molest a child under 18. For purposes of this law, “annoy” and “molest” mean the same thing.
A prosecutor must successfully prove the following elements to show that a defendant is guilty under this statute:
Please note that for an accused to be guilty under PC 647.6, it is not necessary that the child actually was actually irritated or disturbed. It is also not necessary that the child was actually touched. Words alone may constitute annoying or molesting behavior.2
Examples of illegal acts under this statute include:
Absent aggravating circumstances, a first offense under PC 647.6 PC is a misdemeanor. The crime is punishable by:
If a person violates PC 647.6 after entering an inhabited dwelling without consent, the crime becomes a “wobbler” offense. A wobbler may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony at the prosecutor’s discretion.2
If charged as a misdemeanor, the crime is punishable by a fine and/or county jail sentence as set forth above.
If charged as a felony, a conviction carries a maximum penalty of one year in the California state prison.
Note that a violation of Penal Code 647.6, even a first offense, is charged as a felony if the defendant has a prior felony conviction for certain specified sex offenses. Such crimes include (but are not limited to):
If an accused has a previous felony conviction for a specified sex offense, a PC 647.6 violation is punishable by up to six years in state prison.
Criminal defense attorneys draw upon several legal strategies to help clients contest charges under this law. A good defense may work to reduce or even dismiss a charge.
Some common defenses to allegations under this statute include:
Penal Code 288 is a law similar to child annoyance. PC 288 is the California statute that punishes the intentional touching of a child when it is done to:
Any “touching,” even if done through a child’s clothing, is sufficient to result in a crime under this statute.5
Punishment for lewd acts with a child will vary depending on the child’s age and whether force or threats were used. Sentences range from as little as probation and a year in county jail to 10 years in state prison.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.
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