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Child molestation charges are very serious, with many people reporting that they feel like they are assumed guilty simply by being accused. 

Child molestation charges always warrant a vigorous defense, which our team has the experience to bring.

California’s child molestation statutes are found in several different places in the Penal Code. The main felony statute is Penal Code 288 and the main misdemeanor statute is Penal Code 647.6.

What is Child Molestation?

The law states that it is a felony to touch a child under the age of 14 with a lewd or lascivious intent. It also forbids having the child touch themselves or the defendant. 

The law makes it a misdemeanor to molest or annoy a child who is under the age of 18. It is also illegal to annoy or molest someone you believe is under age 18, regardless of their real age. Prohibited conduct is any conduct that is likely to irritate or disturb a child and that is done with a sexual interest.

This is an expansive law, Penal Code 647.6 does not require that the defendant touch a child in any way. Instead, annoying or molesting a child could consist of propositioning a minor for sex or masturbating in front of a child.

Is Molestation a Felony or Misdemeanor Offense in California?

Most crimes in California are either felonies or misdemeanors, with felonies being more serious. Felonies typically carry more severe penalties, including time in prison. Both felonies and misdemeanors are serious, however, since both give you a criminal record.

If you are applying for a job in the future or renting an apartment, your criminal history might come up. It isn’t unusual for landlords to refuse to rent to someone with a criminal conviction for child molestation, even if the crime was a misdemeanor.

A prosecutor will look at the facts of the case and your prior criminal record when making the decision. Jail time or a prison sentence for molestation charges often depends on whether you are convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.

How Much Time Can You Get in Jail for a Misdemeanor?

Some child molestation cases are charged as misdemeanors. They carry up to a year in county jail and a fine up to $5,000.

How Much Time Can You Get in Prison for a Felony Charge?

A felony conviction can land you in prison for either 3, 6 or 8 years for most felony child molest cases, and you will also have to pay up to $5,000 in fines. However, some child molestation statutes carry as much as 25-to-life in prison:

  • If you entered someone’s home without permission to molest a child, then you could be charged with a felony and be sentenced to life in prison.
  • If you have a prior felony conviction for a sex offense involving a minor, then you will also face felony charges and can spend life in prison.

Someone with a prior felony conviction for a sex crime should definitely reach out to an attorney. 

At the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, we have provided steady legal guidance to many people facing years in prison for child molestation charges.

Does a Defendant Have to Register as a Sex Offender?

In many ways, having to register as a sex offender is a worse punishment then time in custody.  A person’s name, address, and photograph may be published on a website which the public can access. This website is run by the California Department of Justice.

A court will require someone convicted under Penal Code 647.6 to register as a sex offender under California Penal Code Section 290

If you must register, you need to update your registration each year with California law enforcement as long as you are living in the state.

Is Probation Possible?

Probation is an alternative to spending time in jail or prison after a conviction in some child molest cases. While on probation, the probationer agrees to abide by a list of conditions. If he or she violates any of the conditions, the police can pick the defendant up and a judge could send them to prison to finish out their sentence.

Some of the more common conditions include:

  • Visiting with a probation officer periodically
  • Performing community service or public work service
  • Abiding by the law (no more arrests or convictions for crimes)
  • Undergoing a sex rehabilitation program
  • Undergoing random drug testing
  • Consenting to periodic searches of your home
  • Undergoing periodic polygraph examinations

Abiding by these conditions is mandatory if ordered by the court. When probation ends, the conditions will be lifted.

Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help Me?

Yes. Child molestation charges are very sensitive, and not every attorney is prepared to handle them. 

At our firm, we have helped countless defendants clear their names. 

We have many inspiring stories to share of clients who have managed to move on with their lives after beating a child molestation charge.

Contact the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, today. Our firm offers a free case evaluation, which is completely confidential.

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong

Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm, the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, in June 2007. Prior to that, he was employed as the senior associate attorney for a large criminal defense firm in San Diego for nine years, eventually being placed in charge of that firm’s branch office in downtown San Diego. At one point, he was managing six attorneys at that firm, as well as several support staff and law clerks. In 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys. In 2017, he was also selected for the Super Lawyers Top 50 in San Diego list. In 2014, he was selected as a Top Attorney by Los Angeles Magazine. Additionally, Mr. Armstrong was also named as a Top Attorney by the San Diego Business Journal in 2014.

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