California Penal Code Section 647(a) PC: Lewd Conduct

lewd conduct

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

Lewd conduct under California Penal Code Section 647(a) PC can involve either engaging in public lewd conduct or soliciting another person to engage in this conduct. A lewd conduct charge usually occurs as a result of a sting operation and can cause serious collateral consequences and embarrassment for those convicted.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of engaging in lewd conduct, a prosecutor must be able to establish the following elements:

  1. The defendant willfully engaged in the touching of his or her own or another person’s genitals, buttocks or breasts (for females)
  2. The defendant did so with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify himself or herself or another person, or to annoy or offend another person
  3. At the time the defendant engaged in the conduct, he or she was in a public place or was in a place open to public view
  4. At the time the defendant was engaged in the conduct, someone else who might have been offended was present
  5. AND the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that another person who might have been offended by his or her conduct was present.

In order to prove that the defendant solicited lewd conduct, a prosecutor must be able to establish the following elements:

  1. The defendant requested that another person engage in the touching of genitals, buttocks or breasts (for females)
  2. The defendant requested that the other person engage in the requested conduct in public
  3. When the defendant made the request, he or she was in a public place
  4. The defendant intended for the conduct to occur in a public place
  5. When the defendant made the request, he or she did so with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify himself or herself or another person, or to annoy or offend another person
  6. The defendant knew or reasonably should have known that someone was likely to be present who could be offended by the requested conduct
  7. AND the other person received the communication containing the request.

2. Related Offenses

Similar offenses include the following:

  1. Indecent Exposure – California Penal Code Section 314 PC
  2. Trespassing - California Penal Code Section 602 PC
  3. Disturbing the Peace - California Penal Code Section 415 PC

3. Examples

A man and a woman are having a picnic in a public park when they decide to engage in sexual intercourse. They are aware that there are other people present in the park, but they have sex anyways. A park ranger catches them and alerts the police. Both the man and woman could be charged with engaging in lewd conduct in violation of California Penal Code Section 647(a) PC.

In another example, the police are conducting a sting operation in a local park. They set up an undercover officer in a men’s restroom that is known to be popular with gay men. The officer smiles at a man who enters the restroom. The man asks the undercover officer if he wants to engage in sex in a restroom stall. This man could be charged with soliciting lewd conduct.

4. Defenses to Lewd Conduct

In many undercover sting operations, an overzealous officer may become too aggressive and push the target of the sting into engaging in behavior that they would not have committed otherwise. In these cases, the defendant may have a strong entrapment defense if charged with engaging in or soliciting lewd conduct.

5. Penalties

Lewd conduct is a misdemeanor offense that can be punished by up to six months in jail, extensive court fines and fees, sex offender counseling, a mandatory HIV test, and a stay away order from the location where the incident occurred. A conviction of this nature can cause long-lasting problems for those seeking employment or housing.

6. Criminal Defense for Lewd Conduct

Lewd conduct is a criminal offense that can be embarrassing and can also carry serious consequences for those convicted. As a result, it is very important that you contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney right away if you have been arrested for lewd conduct. There may be diversion programs available that could help prevent a criminal conviction, and an effective criminal defense attorney can explore and pursue these options. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who fights hard on behalf of his clients charged with lewd conduct offenses. Mr. Kraut understands that charges of this nature can be very sensitive and is able to make all court appearances on his clients’ behalf.

For more information about lewd conduct, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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