When most people think of the phrase “molesting a child,” they think of someone actually touching a minor in a sexual manner. But under the law, that crime is actually charged as committing a lewd act against a child under 14 or as statutory rape. There is a crime called annoying or molesting a child under 18 though, which does not involve actually touching a child, but instead acting in a sexual manner towards a child. Whether you have been accused of committing a lewd act against a child, annoying or molesting a child or any other sex crime involving a child, you need to speak with a top child molestation attorney.
Annoying or Molesting a Child Charges
Annoying or molesting a child occurs when someone motivated in 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. A few examples include someone offering to provide oral sex to a 13 year old or someone masturbating in a car outside of a playground. In either case, the offender did not touch any children, but their behavior was sexual towards a child.
If someone made sexual comments towards a 13 year-old boy online, they could also be charged with this crime, even if the person claiming to be a 13 year-old boy was actually a full-grown man. If you have been accused of molesting or annoying a child, it is critical you contact a San Diego sexual harassment of a minor lawyer as soon as possible, even if you think you have done nothing wrong.
Penalties for Sexually Harassing a Minor
Penalties for this crime can vary depending on the circumstances. In most cases, it will be charged as a misdemeanor, but if you entered a private home without consent and then annoyed or molested a minor, you could face misdemeanor or felony charges. In either case, the maximum penalty will be one year imprisonment. 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. Even as a misdemeanor, penalties include lifetime registration as a sexual offender.
Fighting the Charges
Obviously this is a serious offense, but the good news is that you can fight against these charges. Do not speak to anyone, including police or the victim, if you believe you are under investigation for this crime. Instead speak only with your lawyer about the case. In some cases, your defense may be as simple as stating that you were making a joke to a minor and had no sexual interest in the incident or the child. Alternatively, you may be able to argue that the accuser was mistaken or lying and that incident never happened, or that the conduct in question was not likely to disturb or irritate most children.
No matter what the specifics of your case, if you believe you are being investigated for annoying or molesting a child in San Diego, please call (760) 643-4050 to speak with attorney Peter M. Liss.