CA Penal Code 647(a) PC
PC 647(a) – Lewd Conduct in Public
Lewd Conduct in Public – Table of Contents
It is illegal in California to engage in conduct that is deemed “lewd” while in a public setting. This includes any public place and any conduct the government considers lewd.
Sexual activity is not the act that is made illegal in this statute, even if done in public. Instead, conduct is considered lewd when you should know someone else is viewing the action and would be offended by it.
Lewd conduct in public is charged as a misdemeanor, and carries with it a penalty of up to six months in jail and up to a fine of $1,000. If charged, as is often the case, with indecent exposure, you will be required to register your name as a sex offender.
In order to be convicted of violating lewd conduct in public penal code 647(a) for engaging in lewd conduct in public, the prosecutor must prove:
- You engaged in lewd conduct in public; and
- You were in a public place.
It is also illegal to get someone else to engage in the lewd conduct on your behalf. This type of solicitation will hold you criminally liable for the same crime.
Conduct is “lewd” if it involves the touching or exposing of your private body parts in order to achieve sexual gratification or to offend another person. This means the exposure or touching of your genitals, breasts, or buttocks to annoy another person or sexually gratify yourself in a public place is a the crime.
Criminal cases distinguish themselves from civil cases in that the burden on the prosecution is much higher. In a criminal matter, the prosecutor must prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that every single element of lewd conduct in public crime is met. This means that the prosecutor must present evidence and witnesses that would convince the judge or jury that each element is present.
Hiring an attorney in the early stages of these proceedings is vital, because there are many ways to avoid punishment or reduce charges that only a skilled attorney could manage and navigate.
First, an attorney will argue the prosecutor has failed to meet the heavy burden described above. If the conduct you engaged might not be enough to be considered “lewd” or if there was not quite a good enough reason for you to believe another person was present and watching or would be offended, then you cannot be convicted of this crime. This presence of reasonable doubt is vital.
Your attorney may also be able to prove you did not engage in lewd conduct, or that you no intent to seek sexual gratification or annoy another. Showing someone your private parts for medical reasons or other purposes is not enough to result in a conviction.
If the place was not actually public, or if it was public and no one was around, you will be acquitted, as well. There needs to be someone there that watched and was offended by your actions. And you had to have reason to believe there may be someone there to watch.
If you were falsely accused or you were identified as the perpetrator of a crime you did not commit, your attorney can also introduce evidence that, although the crime may have been committed, it simply was not committed by you.
If you or a loved one is being charged with Lewd Conduct in Public in violation of PC 647(a) in California, we invite you to contact us immediately for a free case review. Schedule an appointment to meet with us in person, or feel free to submit an evaluation online and we will get in contact with you ASAP. We can provide a free consultation in our office located in Century City, or by phone.
Our experienced and assiduous Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyers will be sure to fight until the end to reduce or drop your charges completely.
Call Us for a FREE Case Review: 310-274-6529
What Our Clients Say
Very sharp and very detailed! Thanks Paul you're one of the best in the business and you set an excellent example of a good quality attorney that cares!- Erick Glover
Chris demonstrated both a compassionate ear as well as a logical, realistic approach to the issues that arose. He consistently responded quickly to both email and phone correspondence.- Bonnie Tova
Chris has handled my contentious divorce case for the last year. He has listened to me and guided me along the way through the court system. I highly highly recommend him.- P.K.
Chris Moore was always extremely diligent and 'on point' with me every step of the way. He was honest, respectful, straightforward, and very competent. He exceeded my expectations.- D.A.