Lewd Conduct in Public – California Law Penal Code Section 647(a)

voyeurism law in california

Under California Law Penal Code Section 647(a), touching of the genitals, buttocks, or female breast becomes lewd conduct under California Law when proved to have the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, annoyance or offense. These acts include public receiving or giving oral sex, exposure of genitals and public. Most often police arrests offenders in public rest rooms and beaches. That’s why very often the officer is the only person at the time the act is committed, who becomes the second conflicting statements after the person charged with the offense.
More often the officer can “plant evidence” or falsify reports. To avoid such situations a solid defense is crucial to a successful resolution to these charges. A good defense attorney will investigate those accusations and attempt to show that the current crimes did not exist or that a defendant has been overcharged.
Below, The Margarian Law Firm will introduce you the main elements of the California Engaging in or Soliciting Lewd Conduct in Public. Moreover, in the resources of our site you can find detailed information about different kind of Sex Crimes in California.


1. What Is Engaging in or Soliciting Lewd Conduct in Public under California Law?
2. What Should The Prosecutor Prove in Order to Convict of Soliciting or Engaging in Led Conduct in Public
3. What Penalties Can a Person Face for Violating California Engaging in or Soliciting Lewd Conduct in Public?
4. How Can I defend Charges with California Lewd Conduct in Public?
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Moreover, we are ready to provide answers to your initial questions concerning sex crime charges in California for free.

1. Definition of Engaging in or Soliciting Lewd Conduct in Public under California Law
Under California Law Penal Code Section 314 knowingly exposing genitals or breasts in public, offending others is misdemeanor with punishment up to one year in detention.
Section 647 (A) PC states that soliciting another person, or engaging in lewd or sexual conduct in a public place, can be charged with the crime. In most cases this crime is charged when a person has some sort of sexual activity in a public park or in a parked car. In some cases there are police operations to detain people for this charge.
Activity with no intent to sexually arouse or annoy anyone is not prohibited under Penal Code 647(a).
Violation of Penal Code 647(a) exists if lewd conduct occurs in:
– a public place;
– a place open to the public;
– a place obtainable for public view.

For California courts the word “public” has a very wide interpretation. Here are some places, which they found to be public:
– a car parked on a public street;
– a hallway in a building;
– the area behind the service counter in a men’s clothing store’
– a massage parlor.
Your home, your hotel room and your closed place of business are not public places, but if they`re is exposed to public view they become public and the sexual activity there becomes violation of Penal Code Section 647 (a), which is crime.

2. Criminal Elements of the Crime of Engaging in or Soliciting Lewd Conduct in Public

We differ two types of lewd conduct offenses: engaging in lewd conduct and soliciting another to engage in lewd conduct.
In order to prove a crime of soliciting lewd conduct, the prosecution must first of all prove that the person charged with the crime must have requested that another person engage in the touching of genitals, the buttocks or breast of a woman or a man in public, and then prove that he or she wanted to sexually gratify himself/herself or someone else offending a third person who is present by the conduct.
To establish soliciting another to engage in lewd conduct, the prosecutor must prove five “elements of the crime”:
1. The defendant willfully engaged in or soliciting the touching of his or her own or another person’s genitals, or a female breast;
2. The defendant did so with the intent sexually to arouse or gratify herself/himself or another person, or to annoy or offend another person;
3. At the time of activity the defendant was in a public place or a place open to the public or to public view;
4. Someone else who might have been offended was present;
5. The defendant knew or reasonably should have known that another person who might have been offended by your conduct was present.

3. Punishment for Committing Public Lewd Conduct in California
Lewd conduct can only be charged as a misdemeanor with the maximum jail sentencing of one year. In some cases, the prosecution may require that the person must be documented as a sex offender for lifetime.

4. Defenses to the Accusations of Lewd Conduct in a Public Place
In order to fight against lewd conduct charges, your experienced and professional attorney can use the following legal defenses, including (but are not limited to):
False accusations, i.e., The defendant didn’t touch your private or someone else’s parts;
Lack of intent, i.e., the defendant reasonably believed there was no one present who would be offended;
Plea bargains and dismissals, i.e., the defendant thought it was not in public place or a place open to public view;
California Entrapment, i.e., the police used entrapment or engaged in other misconduct.

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The Margarian Law Firm aggressively protects the rights of criminal defendants in California. We will evaluate your case and prepare as fast as possible your defense for trial as well as we will negotiate your plea bargain and do our best to get the best possible outcome for you. Do not hesitate to contact us. You will get your legal assistance as soon as you contact us. We handle every aspect of your case, from the first step to the very last court hearing.

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