California's "Lewd Conduct" Law - PC 647

Due to the extremely negative connotation in society, sex crimes can be the most serious allegations one can face. California Penal Code Section 647(a) is one common type of sex crime charged in California. Penal Code Section 647(a) makes it illegal for anyone to engage in or ask another person to participate in an act of lewd or dissolute conduct in public. Lewd acts are defined as touching one's genitals, butt, or breasts for the purpose of sexual gratification or to offend another person. Although sexual activity alone is not a crime, the activity becomes "lewd conduct" when her or she should reasonably know that there is likely another person present or watching who might take offense to the conduct.

California Penal Code Section 647(a) is generally prosecuted as a misdemeanor, punishable by fines, probation, community service, or terms of imprisonment up to one year. As of now, lewd or dissolute conduct is not an offense that requires the convicted to register as a sex offender, however, prosecutors often push for additional charges or heightened penalties to warrant sex offender registration. For a prosecutor to prove that a person committed lewd or dissolute acts, several elements must be established. These elements include proving:

  • That a person touched their private parts or the private parts of another person
  • The they did so for sexual gratification
  • The acts happened in public (any public place or place open to the public or public view)
  • And that the person knew or should have known that others would have been offended by this conduct.

Often, arrests for lewd or dissolute acts result from sting operations conducted by undercover law enforcement officers. During sting operations, undercover officers lure people into committing lewd or dissolute conduct, or into committing acts that later the officers allege to have been lewd or dissolute. Additionally, this type of case can result when couples engage in sexual acts in a public place. Regardless of the situation, Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP will make sure to evaluate the entire situation and the circumstances surrounding an arrest to ensure their clients receive the most effect defense. Successful defenses used by the attorneys at Lessem & Newstat LLP include, demonstrating the act in question was not being done for a sexual purpose; that there was no one else around likely to be offended; and that our client was not the person who committed the act in question.

If you or a loved one has been charged with lewd or dissolute conduct in public, Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP can fight the case with the assistance of proven and established criminal defense attorneys. Whether you think that your case arose from entrapment, whether these charges entail additional sex crime allegations, or whether you believe that there is nothing you can do, the aggressive attorneys at Lessem & Newstat, LLP can help. Call now for a free consultation!