It is a crime in California to solicit or engage in a lewd act in a public place or in an area in view of the public. Lewd acts specifically are prohibited under California Penal Code 647(a). In accordance with Penal Code 647(a), a person convicted of soliciting or engaging in a lewd act in public could be sentenced to serve a jail term in California. What is considered “lewd?” Penal Code 647(a) defines a lewd act as conduct that involves sexual gratification or sexual deviancy. Simply put, someone violates California Penal Code 647(a) if he or she touches his or her own, or someone else’s, private parts – including genitals, the buttocks or a female breast – for sexual gratification or to annoy someone else. This would include the crime of child molestation, public masterbation and even the public touching of a woman’s butt, in accordance with Penal Code 647(a). It is important to note, sexual activity only is a crime in California if it is being done in a public place and those involved know they are being watched and could be offending someone.
Punishments for Lewd Conduct in California
In accordance with Penal Code 647(a), someone convicted of a lewd act in public could spend up to six months in jail and have to pay a fine of up to $1,000. A judge also could decide to forego jail time and/or a fine for someone convicted of violating Penal Code 647(a) and may find it more appropriate for the person to go through counseling or testing for a sexually transmitted diseases. Often, a charge of lewd conduct in public is coupled with a charge for indecent exposure, however.
Defending a Violation of Penal Code 647(a)
If you are facing a charge for soliciting or engaging in lewd acts in a public place in California, It is beneficial to have a skilled criminal defense attorney working on your behalf. There are various defenses that a knowledgeable defense lawyer could raise, which could result in a reduction of the charges or a dismissal. One defense could be that the touching was done accidentally. If this is true, then the defendant should not be punished under Penal Code 647(a).
Any sort of accidental touching of another’s genitals, buttocks or breast area in a public area is not punishable under Penal Code Section 647(a). Furthermore, if the touching was not done for the purpose of sexual gratification or to offend someone else, than that touching is not punishable under Penal Code 647(a). There are occasions when intentionally touching someone in the buttocks is not done for sexual gratification, for example. Another defense a criminal defense attorney could use in court could be that the lewd act was not done in a public place or within public view. For example, the act may have been done in a bathroom stall, which is not a public area. Lastly, if a third person did not see the lewd act then the defendant should not be convicted under Penal Code 647(a). Someone must have been presented to witness the lewd act to be charged and convicted of a crime.