California Molestation Charges: What to Do If You Are Charged

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If you are under investigation or have been charged with child molestation, you will need to get expert legal help fast.

The penalties for a conviction under the molestation laws in California are extremely harsh. There is a possibility that you could go to prison for several years after a conviction.

Additionally, a conviction under California molestation laws carries substantial collateral consequences that could ruin your life. 

Do you know where to turn for help in a dire situation like this? If you are in the San Diego area, you can trust molestation defense attorney Kerry L. Armstrong and his team with your defense.

Attorney Armstrong and his staff have won numerous awards for their outstanding commitment to their clients and their courtroom success. They have the experience you need to help you through this difficult time.

What Are The California Molestation Laws in 2023?

California does not have just one child molestation statute. Instead, the California Penal Code spreads out the child molestation laws over several sections.

These laws cover a variety of unlawful acts. Additionally, the penalties for these crimes vary widely.

Some are misdemeanor offenses, but others could result in lengthy prison sentences up to and including life in prison. So let’s take a look at a few of the most common child molestation charges. 

What Are the Penalties Under the California Child Sexual Abuse Laws?

At the outset, you should understand that child molestation crimes involve unlawful sexual contact with a person younger than 18 years of age.

However, some statutes specifically refer specifically to children who are less than 14 years old.

Penal Code section 288 makes it a crime to commit a lewd and lascivious act on a child under 14. Section 288 covers a range of lewd acts. The potential punishment ranges from 3 – 10 years in state prison.

Oral copulation with a minor is a violation of Penal Code section 287. The possible sentences range from one year in jail to as long as 14 years in state prison.

The sentence depends on several aggravating factors like the age of the victim, the mental capacity of the victim, and whether the perpetrator used any force, intimidation, or threat of violence in the commission of this crime. 

Continuous sexual abuse of a minor is a crime. Section 288.5 of the Penal Code says that three or more instances of sexual abuse of a child under 14 lasting at least three months are a felony. The sentence for this crime is either 6, 12, or 16 years in prison. 

Engaging in any sex act with a child under 10 years old is also a felony, according to Section 288.7 of the Penal Code.

A person 18 or older who is found guilty of this offense must serve at least 25 years to life in prison. 

Also, oral copulation or sexual penetration of a child 10 or younger by a person over 18 is a felony. The sentencing range here is 15 years to life in prison. 

What Defenses Are Available Under the Molestation Laws in California?

When you speak with a highly-skilled and trained defense lawyer from the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, you will go through every detail of your situation in painstaking detail. Why? Because the details matter.

They can mean the difference between walking out of court after an acquittal or spending years or even life in prison. 

After we assess the facts of your case, we can address which defenses give you the best chance of avoiding a conviction.

Depending on the facts of your case, you might be able to contest the victim’s age or argue that the victim falsely accused you.

It takes a detailed evaluation of the facts surrounding your charge to extract the best defense possible for your situation.

What Are the Collateral Consequences of a Conviction Under the California Molestation Laws?

Potentially going to prison is not the only consequence you face for a child molestation conviction, especially if the charge is a felony.

You should be aware that anyone convicted of a felony in the United States loses their Second Amendment right to possess a firearm.

They also cannot cast a vote for several years after a conviction in most states, and some states bar felons from voting for life. 

Also, if you are not a U.S. citizen, your immigration status is in jeopardy after a felony conviction (and even after some misdemeanor convictions). A U.S. citizen cannot face removal proceedings after a felony conviction.

However, any non-citizen who gets convicted of some misdemeanors or a felony faces deportation, exclusion from the United States, or denial of naturalization rights.

It is almost certain that the government will try to deport you after a child molestation conviction because it is a crime of moral turpitude. 

There are other consequences that could alter your life as well. You could lose your job or your home because of a conviction. Also, the judge could restrict who you associate with and where you can go if you are convicted.

The bottom line is that felony convictions, especially those involving inappropriate sexual behavior, have both direct and indirect harsh consequences.

You need to discuss these issues with an experienced defense attorney before deciding what to do about your case.

Registration Requirements for Child Molestation Convictions

Anyone convicted under California molestation laws will have to register as a sex offender. This requirement applies to every charge except having unlawful sex with a minor according to Penal Code 261.5.

California law requires you to register as a sex offender for at least 10 years, but depending on your situation, your registration requirements could last for 20 or even for life.

Registration means you have to give your address to the local police department every year on your birthday, and you have to change your address with the police every time you move.

But if you are classified as a sexually violent predator, you must give your information to the police every 90 days. 

Additionally, you might have to disclose your status as a convicted sex offender to your employer or school. You should also note that you might be eligible for public disclosure as a sex offender as well. 

Call the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, Right Away to Protect Your Freedom

Kerry L. Armstrong is board-certified by the State Bar of California as a legal specialist in criminal law. He is one of a small group of defense lawyers to earn that distinction.

He and his firm have tried well over 100 cases to jury trial. Their award-winning service and dedication to their clients is second to none.

Contact the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, today by calling 619-514-0267. We look forward to learning more about how we can help. 

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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