Lewd Conduct in San Diego
Lewd conduct consists of any unlawful act committed by a person with the purpose of arousing the libido or sexual interest of himself or herself, or the person toward which the action is directed. In San Diego lewd behavior refers to the touching of genitals, buttocks, or female breast for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, annoyance or offense. These offenses are considered obscene and indecent, they are categorized as sex crimes because of the sexual nature of the act.
Understanding Penal Code Section 647(a)
In consideration of the seriousness of lewd conduct, California has criminalized it under Penal Code section 647(a). Under this law, “Any person who solicits anyone to engage in or who engages in lewd or dissolute conduct in any public place or in any place open to the public or exposed to public view is guilty of a misdemeanor." It is important to point out that lewd conduct does not explicitly require intent, therefore activity that is not intended to sexually arouse or annoy anyone is not prohibited under California Penal Code section 647(a).
Sexual deviancy that involves sexual gratification of self or the person toward which the action is directed.
A place open to the public.
Case law has held the following are public places for purposes of lewd conduct:
A car parked on a public street, common areas in an apartment complex, private movie booth at an adult bookstore, a car parked on a public street, clothing stores, and massage parlors.
Lewd conduct in private places exposed to public view will be charged under Penal Code section 647(a).
Case law has held the following are not public places:
A person's home, hotel room, and closed place of business are private places that may be exposed.
Basically, to convict someone of PC 647(a), the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements:
- The defendant willfully or purposefully engaged in;
- Or solicited another person to engage in lewd or dissolute conduct;
- In any place open to the public or exposed to public view;
- A third party who could have been offended was present;
- The defendant knew or reasonably should have known of their presence.
Lewd Conduct is a Misdemeanor
Misdemeanor Lewd Conduct Penalties
- A maximum sentence of 6 months in county jail;
- A fine of up to $1,000;
- Informal probation.
Indecent Exposure vs. Lewd Conduct
The biggest difference between indecent exposure and lewd conduct is that a conviction under Penal Code section 647(a) does not require the person convicted to register as a sex offender in California. However, the prosecution has found a way around this, by charging the two offenses together so that a conviction under Penal Code section 314 will require sex offender registration in California. A lot of times, the prosecution will offer a plea deal to drop the lewd conduct charge, if the person pleads guilty to indecent exposure. This in not a deal! Why would you agree to register as a sex offender the rest of your life in exchange for dropping the less serious of the two offenses. It is imperative that you have an experienced sex crimes defense attorney to protect your interest so that this does not happen to you.
Disturbing the Peace is a Lesser Related
Offense for Lewd Conduct
A lesser related offense is an offense that is less serious but similar to the greater offense. In the hands of an experienced sex crimes defense attorney you could reduce the misdemeanor charges for lewd conduct to an infraction for disturbing the peace under California Penal Code 415. If convicted for disturbing the peace, you may face a fine of up to four hundred dollars and up to ninety days in county jail, or both.
The best defenses to charges of lewd conduct in public depend on the particular circumstances of your case. These are some of the most effective defenses:
- You were falsely accused; you did not touch yourself or another person.
- It was an accident; you may have touched yourself but it was not for sexual gratification.
- You were not in a public place or a private place open to public view.
- You lacked knowledge of an offending third party present.
If you are charged with lewd conduct, especially if you are facing the threat of having to file as a sex offender, the best thing you could do is find a skilled criminal defense attorney, particularly find a local criminal defense attorney who knows the local San Diego judicial system. Local criminal defense attorneys know how local judges and local prosecutors work, and can use that knowledge to better represent you. While this may sound easy to handle on your own, the reality is that litigation is quite complicated. To make sure you get the best legal scenario possible, you should talk to Attorney Vik Monder, he has ample experience dealing with these cases of lewd conduct and has proven results is San Diego. Call the Monder Law Group today to take the first step towards getting your life back at 619-405-0063.