Former Prosecutor


Annoying/Molesting Child Under 18

Being accused of any form of child abuse is not an allegation anyone should ignore. Crimes that involve minors carry harsh penalties and include long-term consequences. Law enforcement usually acts quickly in cases involving children. The prosecution will pursue charges and could seek the maximum penalty. Take the offense seriously and get legal advice as soon as the accusations are made.

A criminal record of any kind will be detrimental to future employment goals, limit your housing opportunities, and could negatively impact any academic plans. If you are facing a PC 647.6 charge, it is highly recommended you contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. For a more critical understanding of this law, let’s take a look at how California defines it.

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Definition of Penal Code 647.6

California outlines what it means to annoy or molest a child under 18 years old under Penal Code 647.6. For this statute, the crimes of annoying or molesting a minor/child under 18 years old mean the same thing. The law states someone can violate this crime if they are guilty of the following two facts.

  • The defendant’s conduct is irritating or disturbing the minor or children who are under the age of 18, and
    • Acting in such a manner that you invade a child’s privacy and security falls under annoying or disturbing conduct.
  • The defendant’s behavior is motivated by their general sexual interest in children or the sexual interest of a specific minor/child.

What is considered disturbing or irritating a child?

Annoying or molesting a child under age 18 is also characterized as a general intent crime. The defendant does not have to intend for their actions or behavior to be construed as lewd or obscene. Even if the defendant thinks their affection is all right, it could still violate PC 647.6 if it would also irritate, disturb, or annoy a normal person.

Is the motivating factor one of sexual interest?

Having an interest in disrupting a child, annoying or bothering them, or a group of children because it gives the defendant sexual gratification is considered sexual intent. PC 647.6 is violated when the defendant acts out this inappropriate and abnormal sexual interest. For instance, the defendant violates PC 647.6 if they acted in a sexual manner, intending for a child or children to see, watch, or witness that behavior.

Is physical contact a necessary factor in the crime?

The law does not require the defendant to make any contact or actually interact with the child or children. The child or children do not even have to be irritated or annoyed by it. This statute focuses on the behavior or conduct rather than how the child or children react to it. Remember, if the behavior could irritate any normal person and it violates the child’s privacy and security, it meets the criteria for PC 647.6.

Physical contact does not have to be made, which means the defendant can violate this law for using their words. The defendant does not have to intend to seduce the minor(s). Simply speaking to children in an inappropriate sexual manner falls under the criteria for PC 647.6 and is enough to face this offense.

Closely-Related Offenses

The crime of annoying or irritating a child under 18 years old is different from other sex crimes, in that it does not require physical contact, nor does it require that the child or children be legitimately disturbed. Nevertheless, several offenses can be associated with PC 647.6 and it is not unheard of for a defendant to face more than one of these charges.

Penal Code 288.2, sending harmful matter with the intent to seduce minor;

This crime is committed when the defendant sends, exhibits, or distributes harmful or obscene material to a minor, someone who is under 18 years old, and does so with the intent to sexually arouse themselves or the minor, and with intentions of having sex with the minor.

Penal Code 288.3, contacting a minor with the intent to commit a felony;

This crime is committed when someone contacts a minor, via cellphone, text message, email, or chat with the intent to commit a felony. These offenses include sex crimes such as rape, sodomy, lewd acts, kidnapping, or torture.

Penal Code 269, aggravated sexual assault of a child;

This law covers certain crimes committed against a child, such as rape, sodomy, or closely-related sex crimes.

Penal Code 288, lewd acts with a child;

This statute prohibits committing child molestation, such as committing lewd and lascivious acts with a child or inappropriately touching a minor under 14 years old for the purposes of sexual arousal, intent, or interest.

Penal Code 288.5, continuous sexual abuse of a child;

This offense is committed when a defendant has engaged in three or more sexual acts, that are lewd or lascivious, and it all takes place over the course of three months or longer.

Penal Code 311, child pornography;

This law prohibits the sale, transport, copy, trade, print, advertisement, or possession of child pornography or to persuade and/or hire minors under 18 years old to participate in the making of this sexually explicit film, imagery, or performance.

California Child Abuse laws;

Corporal injury of a child is a violation of the state’s child abuse laws, PC 273(d). It prohibits one from imposing physical injury or cruel punishment on a child.

What The Prosecution Must Do

To get a conviction for annoying or molesting a minor under 18 years old, the prosecution must first prove the facts of the case took place. They cannot move forward with the case if these factors, also known as elements of the crime, do not meet the definition of PC 647.6.

Elements of the Crime

  • The defendant disturbed, bothered, or irritated a child who is under 18 years old, and
  • Their behavior was motivated by sexual interest, either in that particular child or children in general.

How can they prove the defendant’s sexual intent?

The prosecution will try to prove two factors regarding the defendant’s sexual interest. They will scrutinize the defendant’s abnormal sexual motivations by studying their prior relationships. First, they will find out if the defendant had some type of past personal relationship with a minor. Then they will focus on certain circumstantial evidence concerning the defendant’s behavior. At this point, the prosecution will use this information to build a stronger case against the defendant.

Who Can Be Charged

The following situations illustrate who can be charged with a PC 647.6 offense. If you or someone you care about can relate to any of these situations, contact a legal defense attorney as soon as you can.

Example 1:

Bill was an exhibitionist and liked having sex with his dates in his car while it was parked in his driveway. He didn’t care who saw. When two 12-year-old kids were walking their dog, they saw Bill having sex with a date. Shocked, they stared. Bill saw them too, but instead of stopping, he smiled and continued his actions while staring directly at them. The date did not see the kids until afterword. She screamed, called him a creep, and left.

Bill could be charged with PC 647.6, for annoying a child by having sexual intercourse in front of them. Although he did not intend for the children to see, he knew passersby would witness his actions. The fact that he refused to stop what he was doing and seemed excited by the kids watching is enough to warrant a conviction.

Example 2:

Colby, who is 35 years old, regularly spies on his neighbor, a 15-year-old girl. He would secretly make video recordings of her while she was in her bedroom. In the middle of the night, Colby would open the window that was facing her bedroom and masturbate as he watched her sleep. One night, she woke up and caught him. He noticed she was staring back, but refused to stop. When he finished, he smiled at her and shut his window.

He could be charged with PC 647.6 for intentionally committing a sexual act in front of a minor. Further investigation revealed the video recordings. Colby was also charged with PC 647(j), voyeurism of a minor. This is also referred to as California’s peeping tom laws. Once convicted he could face misdemeanor penalties, including a possible one-year county jail sentence and up to two thousand dollars in fines. These consequences would be added to the penalties for annoying or molesting a minor.

The Legal Defense

A charge for annoying or molesting a child under 18 years old is difficult to fight alone. The prosecution may even have a challenging time pursuing the charges, particularly when they have to hyper-analyze the circumstances surrounding the defendant’s actions. When the conduct is arguable and does not fully meet the elements of the crime, a decent legal defense attorney can successfully oppose the charges.

Find a professional criminal defense lawyer who can help dispute the charges on your behalf. An experienced defense attorney will be familiar with the common legal defenses used to challenge charges for PC 647.6. A strong legal defense could mean the difference between facing the maximum penalties or gaining a more desirable outcome.

To gain a better idea of what legal defenses have been used to battle a PC 647.6 offense, here are some common examples.

Was it accidental?

If the defendant did not intend for any child or minors to observe their sexual behavior, then they should not face this offense. The action may have been of a sexual kind, however, an accident implies the defendant did not have the intent nor any sexual interest in behaving in such a way in front of children.


Jorge was watching pornography in his living room and did not realize his curtain was not shut all the way. The neighborhood children were riding bikes past his home and noticed the TV. Curious and wanting to embarrass him, they ran up to his window and knocked. Caught by surprise, Jorge jumped up, revealing he was naked. The children saw his genitalia and told their parents he had been masturbating. The parents, without further investigation, claimed he committed indecent exposure, PC 314, and annoying a child, PC 647.6.

In this incident, Jorge did not know his curtain was not shut, nor did he intend to expose himself to any children. The children seeing what was on the TV and seeing Jorge naked was accidental. He would not guilty of PC 647.6 nor would he be charged with PC 314, indecent exposure.

Are the accusations credible?

Unfortunately, false allegations have been made and such instances have led to people getting wrongfully charged with PC 647.6. For instance, flat-out lying or misconstruing an uncomfortable situation can lead to getting accused. A criminal defense lawyer will be able to thoroughly investigate the accuser and witness accounts.

Example 1:

Genna had a crush on his neighbor Kyle and would often send him inappropriate emojis via social media direct messages. One day, he overheard Kyle having sexual intercourse with his partner. The window had not been shut. Although Genna did not see anything, he was able to hear them. Jealous, feeling slighted, and disgusted, he reported Kyle for PC 647.6.

Fortunately, Kyle was able to show some of the emoji messages to his criminal defense lawyer. The defense attorney was able to subpoena Genna’s email and social networking messages. It turned out he expressed his affection for his crush on his social media accounts, also secretly taking pictures whenever Kyle would be outside mowing the lawn or swimming in his backyard pool.

In this case, the credibility of Genna’s accusations needed to be closely examined as his messages showed an obvious crush and revealed his emotional bias. Furthermore, Kyle had no intention of anyone overhearing his personal business, nor was he driven by some abnormal interest. The charges against Kyle were dropped.

Penalties for PC 647.6

If convicted of annoying or molesting a minor, you will face:


As long as one year in county jail. and/or

Fines as high as five thousand dollars.

Informal (misdemeanor) probation.


16 months, 2, or 3 years in California state prison, and/or

Formal (felony) probation.

Felony (2nd offense);

A possible three-year state prison sentence.

Registration as a Sex Offender

If convicted of either a misdemeanor or felony PC 647.6, the defendant is required to register as a tier-one sex offender for their first offense. The penalty requires they remain registered for a period of 10 years.

A second conviction will result in them registering as a tier-two sex offender for a duration of 20 years.

Enhanced Penalties

If the defendant has a criminal record with certain sexual crime convictions, they could potentially face a state prison sentence of 2, 4, or 6 years. Certain crimes include the associated offenses listed below.

Penalties for Similar Offenses

Facing multiple offenses is more common than one might think. If the defendant is charged with more than one crime, the consequences will be longer incarceration times, increased fines, and lifetime registration as a sex offender. Do not take any of these charges lightly. If you or a loved one are facing more than one offense, retaining legal representation should be a priority.

Penal Code 288.2, sending harmful matter with the intent to seduce minor;


As long as one year in county jail, and/or

Fines of up to one thousand dollars.


A possible three-year prison sentence, and/or

Fines as high as ten thousand dollars.

Lifetime registration as a tier-three sex offender.

Penal Code 288.3, contacting a minor with the intent to commit a felony;


Formal (felony) probation,

Fines as high as ten thousand dollars, and/or

A possible 16 months to 13 years in state prison.

Lifetime registration as a tier-three sex offender.

Penal Code 269, aggravated sexual assault of a child;


A potential minimum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison, and/or

Formal (felony) probation.

Registration for life as a tier-three sex offender.

Penal Code 288, lewd acts with a child;


A potential state prison sentence of 3 to 10 years, and/or

Fines as high as ten thousand dollars.

Lifetime registration as a sex offender.

Penal Code 288.5, continuous sexual abuse of a child;


A potential 16 years in state prison, and

Lifetime registration as a sex offender.

Penal Code 311, child pornography;


As long as one year in county jail, and/or

Fines ranging from one thousand dollars to two-thousand-five-hundred dollars.


A potential state prison sentence of three years, and

Registration as a sex offender.

California Child Abuse laws;


As long as one year in county jail,

Fines as high as six thousand dollars, and/or

Summary (informal) probation.


A possible county jail sentence of 2, 4, or 6 years,

Fines of up to six thousand dollars, and/or

Felony (formal) probation.

Who Can Help

Attempting to fight a PC 647.6 charge without legal representation can quickly overwhelm anyone. If you or a loved one is facing the offense of annoying or molesting a child who is under 18 years old, or any of the similar offenses, and need a criminal defense lawyer located in Orange County, Los Angeles, or San Diego, contact the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum.

Attorney Yum has earned multiple awards for her accomplishments in legal defense. As an outstanding criminal defense lawyer who comes highly recommended, you can expect a bold, effective fight for your rights.

To schedule a no-obligation, free consultation call us at 619-233-4433 or use our online contact form. Let us help. We welcome all inquiries.