In California, there are two types of lewd conduct offenses – engaging in lewd conduct or soliciting another person to engage in lewd conduct in public. Very often, people are charged with soliciting or engaging in lewd conduct in public as the result of an undercover sting operation conducted by law enforcement. If you have been charged with this offense, you should seek the help of an experienced San Diego sex offense lawyer who may be able to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed altogether. There are a number of potential defenses in lewd conduct cases and the right attorney will be able to determine how to defend your case.
What is Lewd Conduct under California Law?
California Penal Code 647(a) makes it illegal for a person to solicit anyone to engage in or to engage in lewd or dissolute conduct in a public place, a place open to the public, or a place exposed to public view. Lewd conduct is defined as touching your own private parts or another persons’ private parts for the purpose of sexual gratification or to offend someone else. Private parts include genitals, buttocks, or a female breast.
In order to convict someone of engaging in lewd conduct in violation of PC 647(a), the prosecution must prove that:
The accused willfully engaged in the touching of his/her own or another person’s genitals, buttocks, or female breast
The accused did so with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify himself/herself or another person or to annoy or offend another person
The accused engaged in such conduct while he/she was in a public place, a place open to the public or a place open to public view
At the time the accused engaged in the conduct, another person who might have been offended was present AND
The accused knew or should have known that another person who might have been offended was present.
In order to convict someone of soliciting another person to engage in lewd conduct in violation of PC 647 (a), the prosecution must prove that:
The accused requested that another person engage in the touching of his/her own or another person’s genitals, buttocks, or female breast
The accused requested that the other person engage in the conduct in a public place, or place open to the public or in public view
The other person was in a public place or place open to the public or in public view when the accused made the request
The accused intended for the conduct to occur in a public place, a place open to the public or in public view
The accused made the request with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify himself/herself or another person or to annoy or offend another person
The accused knew or reasonably should have known someone was likely to be present who would be offended by the requested conduct AND
The other person received the communication of the request.
Penalties for Engaging in or Soliciting Lewd Conduct in Public
Engaging in or soliciting lewd conduct in public is a misdemeanor offense. It is punishable by up to six months in county jail and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. At the discretion of the judge, you may be granted probation with little to no jail time. A conviction for this offense is not subject to mandatory sex offender registration under PC 290. However, prosecutors may threaten to charge you with the related offense of indecent exposure, which does require sex offense registration if convicted. This is why it is crucial to have an experienced San Diego lewd conduct attorney representing you as early as possible in the criminal process.
Defending Against Lewd Conduct Charges
Arrests for soliciting or engaging in lewd conduct in public most often stem from sting operations in which an undercover police officer solicits sexual acts in public areas such as a park or restroom. In these situations, it may be possible to raise an entrapment defense if you would not have engaged in the lewd conduct but for the police officer prompting you to commit such actions. It may also be possible to raise any one of the following defenses if:
- You reasonably believed that no one else was present or would be offended by your conduct.
- You were not in a public place, a place accessible by the public, or in public view.
- You did not touch your private parts or those of someone else.
- If you did touch your private parts, it was not for the purpose of sexual gratification.
- The touching was accidental.
How a San Diego Lewd Conduct Attorney Can Help You
If you have been charged with soliciting or engaging in lewd conduct in public, it is essential that you contact an experienced San Diego sex offense lawyer right away. San Diego criminal defense lawyer Jessica McElfresh has extensive knowledge of the law and understands how to craft a compelling defense.
She is dedicated to achieving the most favorable outcome possible for her clients and she will fight to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed. She will carefully explain your legal options, answer any questions that you may have, and guide you through the legal process so that you know what to expect. Call McElfresh Law today for a free and confidential consultation of your case at (858) 756-7107