Penal Code 647(a) — Engaging in Lewd Conduct
Penal Code 647(a) — often referred to as Engaging in or Soliciting Lewd Conduct — is violated when a person, male or female, “solicits anyone to engage in or engages in lewd or dissolute conduct in any public place or in any place open to the public or exposed to public view.”
Engaging in Lewd conduct is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months imprisonment in the county jail.
What the Prosecutor Must Prove to Convict a Person of Engaging in Lewd Conduct
To convict someone of engaging in lewd conduct, the prosecutor must prove all of the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt:
- A person intentionally touched his own or another person’s genitals, buttocks, or female breast;
- The touching was done for personal sexual gratification or to sexually gratify or offend another person;
- The touching occurred in a public place or somewhere open to public view (a private location does not subject one to this criminal charge);
- When the touching occurred a person was present who may have been offended; AND
- the person actually knew or should have known that another person was present who might have been offended by the touching.
Defenses to Engaging in Lewd Conduct
Public sex acts are not illegal under California law. They only become illegal if the people engaged in the acts actually know or reasonably should know that others are present who might be offended by their sexual conduct.
There may be very strong defenses to lewd conduct cases since the prosecution must prove all of the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Our attorneys have gotten many lewd conduct cases either dismissed, or reduced to much less serious, non-sexual offenses, such as trespass or disturbing the peace.
Many Penal Code 647(a) charges are arguably based on illegal entrapment, or police conducting surveillance where people would not reasonably think others might be present. For example, an undercover officer may pretend to be looking for sex in a public place and lure in the defendant through his aggressive sexual behavior.
In other cases, a couple may be having sex in a remote location — for example, at night in a secluded park — and be reasonably unaware that the police are staking out the park. The defendants may not reasonably know that anyone else was present, which would be a full defense to the lewd conduct charges.
Contact Us Now
Schwartz & Naderi’s team of criminal defense attorneys has over 80 years of combined experience aggressively defending clients facing all types of sex-related charges, including Lewd Conduct charges, and will strategize a vigorous defense from the moment of arrest until the completion of the case.
If you or a loved one has been charged with any sex offense, contact a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney from Schwartz & Naderi today at (310) 246-9550.