San Diego CHILD MOLESTATION LAWYER
I am child molestation attorney Peter M. Liss. I can help you if you were arrested or believe you may be under investigation for a sex crime against children in San Diego County, including child molestation, lewd or lascivious acts with a minor, statutory rape, attempting to meet a child for sex, sexually harassing a minor, or soliciting a minor for sex. I can also help you if you are facing a potential “third strike” under the three-strikes law or failing to register as a sex offender.
I have tried over 100 criminal jury trials and personally defended many people in your situation who have been arrested and charged with these serious sex crimes. If you need a skilled, experienced criminal defense attorney with a track record of success, please contact me at (760) 643-4050 for a free consultation. I guarantee you will receive top-quality representation for a reasonable fee.
About Child Molestation Charges in San Diego
Child molestation is one of the most stigmatizing criminal offenses. But though everyone is familiar with the term, few people actually understand what the crime consists of. If you have been accused of any type of sexual assault against a child, contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible because attempting to defend yourself could result in your saying something that could be used as a confession.
What Crimes are Child Molesters Typically Charged With?
The most commonly filed child molestation charges in California involve someone being accused of inappropriately touching a young minor. What most people call “child molestation” is most commonly charged as lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14 under Penal Code 288 (PC) of California law.
While it’s not as common as lewd acts against a child under 14, it is also possible for those accused of these acts to be charged for sexual acts against a minor 15 or over if the defendant is more than 10 years older than the alleged victim.
While these lewd acts need not be explicitly sexual, they must be sexually gratifying for at least one of the people involved with the activity.
What Other Charges Are Possible?
There is also a crime called annoying or molesting a child under 18 (sometimes called sexually harassing a minor), which does not involve touching a child but acting sexually toward a minor. This crime, filed under penal code 647.6 (PC), occurs when someone motivated by a sexual interest in children disturbs a child, irritates a minor, or intends to be observed by a child. In this case, it does not matter if the victim is actually under 18 as long as the offender believes the child is under 18.
If the Minor Initiated the Activity, is it Still Child Molestation?
Yes. When it comes to child molestation laws, it doesn’t matter if the minor consented or even initiated an activity because minors are not legally able to consent to such behavior. If you were involved with an act intended to cause sexual stimulation or pleasure, you can be charged with child molestation.
Can I be Guilty of Child Molestation if I Never Touched the Child’s Genitals or Even Their Bare Skin?
It doesn’t matter what part of the child’s body you touched or what clothes they were wearing; if you touched a child with the intent of causing sexual arousal or gratification to you or the child, it is considered child molestation. Even if you only had the minor touch themselves or touch you, but you never even touched them, you have still violated the law. If you believe someone misunderstood an innocent situation, tell your attorney before speaking with the police.
Should I Talk to The Alleged Victim or Their Parents if They Call Me?
No. One common way police obtain confessions for these crimes is to have the child or their parent call the suspect while police record the call. The child or parent will often use charged statements to get the suspect to admit guilt, for example, by saying the child is now having nightmares or that classmates are teasing them about what happened. Even saying, “I’m sorry” during these conversations can often be used as a confession of guilt.
If you have been accused of any sex crime involving a child, do not answer phone calls from anyone you do not know. Screen your calls with voicemail and if you do accidentally answer a phone call from someone involved with the case, do not discuss the accusations and say that you will call your lawyer. Once you hang up, follow through and contact your attorney to tell them what happened.
What Penalties are there for Child Molestation Charges in California?
Penalties for even a first offense of lewd acts with a minor can be severe. The exact charges will vary based on the specific acts involved, whether the child was under the influence of fear, force or drugs, and the child’s age. In most cases, these charges are felonies, and sentencing can include up to 8 years in state prison, $10,000 in fines, and mandatory registration as a sex offender.
You may also lose the right to see your children or be in the presence of children. Some convicted child molesters are even required to undergo chemical or surgical castration as part of their probation.
Penalties for annoying or molesting a child under 647.6 (PC) are less severe and typically do not exceed one year in jail or prison. If you have a prior conviction for rape of a victim under 16, continuous sexual abuse of a child, or lewd acts with a child though, you could face up to six years in prison for this crime. This crime does require mandatory registration as a sex offender.
Sex Offender Registration Laws
As a registered sex offender, your name, address, and the crimes you were convicted for will be available on the public Megan’s Law database for anyone to see. You will also have to check in with the local government every time you move or get a new employer. You may also be barred from living in certain areas and working in certain jobs.
Failure to register yearly can result in new criminal charges. In some cases, your San Diego child molestation lawyer may be able to have the charges against you reduced, but even then, you will still usually be required to register under Megan’s Law.
Call a San Diego Child Molestation Attorney Immediately
These consequences are dire, and you should not take them lightly. If you have been accused of any sexual act against a minor, contact a skilled lawyer experienced in defending sex crimes as soon as possible —even if charges have not been filed yet. An attorney like myself can help protect you against false accusations that may ruin your reputation, as well as improper and illegal search and seizure methods.
Additionally, if formal charges are filed, I can help minimize the publicity around the case to protect your privacy and reputation from the damaging title of “child molester.” Regardless of the specifics, I can help you obtain the best case results under all relevant facts and laws.
Defenses Against Child Molestation Accusations
Sex offenses against children are serious offenses with complicated defenses. Under US law, a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Still, if you have been accused of any sexual activity involving a child, you’ll have an uphill battle as you attempt to protect your reputation. Having a top defense attorney help you with the process is critical when you have been accused of such an emotionally charged crime as sexual assault against a child.
What Types of Defenses Are Available?
There are many defenses for these crimes. If anyone involved with the accusations could benefit from your conviction, such as an ex-spouse hoping to gain custody, your criminal defense lawyer should bring that connection to light. Another common defense is the “tainting” of a child’s memory through suggestive or leading interviews by a teacher, parent, therapist, or law enforcement officer. Similarly, sometimes the defendant is the victim of mistaken identity because they resemble someone else who harmed the child.
Police must investigate cases involving lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14 properly under the law, so if the police uncover any evidence illegally, your attorney may be able to have this information suppressed from the case. The law considers suspects innocent until they can be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, so the charges should be dropped if there is a lack of evidence to convict you.
Is it a Defense to Child Molestation to Claim I Thought the Juvenile was Over 18?
Not under 288 (PC). In these cases, it does not matter how old you believed the victim to be; it only matters how old they actually are. Do not talk to the police or even the victim unless you have your attorney present or what you say could harm your case.
Interestingly, this is a strong defense against annoying and molesting a child under 18 charges since this offense requires you to believe the individual to be a minor, regardless of age.
What You Say Can Hurt Your Case
Unfortunately, many people do not recognize that child molestation does not need to involve touching in a sexual area or on bare skin; there need not be any touching between the participants at all. If you are accused of getting a child to touch their own body —even through clothing, you can still be charged with molesting a child. Also, sexual arousal or pleasure need not have occurred as long as the person accused of child molesting intended the act to cause sexual arousal or gratification. Lastly, with cases filed under 288 (PC), it does not matter if you believed the child to be over 18 or if they consented.
Do Not Discuss the Case Without Your Lawyer Present
Remember, what you say can be used against you, and even things you say to defend yourself may still be turned around on you and harm your defense later on. Police often arrange recorded phone calls between the alleged victim and the person accused of abusing them, hoping the defendant will say something that can be used as a confession -even something as simple as an “I’m sorry.”
You should never speak to the police, the alleged victim, the victim’s parents, or the District Attorney without your child molestation defense attorney present to provide you with knowledgeable and relevant legal advice throughout your entire ordeal.