A 49-year-old real estate agent from the Citrus Heights area has recently been charged with peeping and annoying/molesting children. Deputies representing the El Dorado County Sheriff’s department have accused him of having taken photographs of both women and children without their knowledge. They say that he accomplished this by sneaking around in various stores in the area.
The crime of ‘annoying or molesting a child under the age of 18’ (CA Penal Code 647.6) makes it illegal in the state of California to ‘annoy’ or ‘molest’ a minor child. Basically, the two terms are synonymous they refer to any behavior whatsoever that involves a child, is intended for the purpose of sexual gratification, and might disturb or annoy that child. It is important to note that this particular violation of the law is quite different from the sexual molestation of a child, though similar terms are clearly used. In order to be found guilty of ‘annoying’ a child, one need not even touch the child in question. One need only annoy the child as defined above.
California law provides for strict sentencing when it comes to convictions related to annoying children. For example, a first offense violation of this section of the law could end in up to 1 year in county jail and subject a person to a $5,000 fine. There are harsher penalties for offenders who have entered the home or dwelling of a child in order to annoy them. In that case, the offense becomes a ‘wobbler,’ meaning that it is left up to the prosecution to determine, dependent upon the particular circumstances of the case, whether they will treat the crime as a misdemeanor or as a felony. If convicted of felony annoying a child, the penalty rises to a maximum of 1 year in state prison.