Penal Code 647(a) PC - Lewd Conduct in Public
I've been doing a lot of these cases lately where people are either in their car with somebody else and they're engaging in some sort of sexual activity. The police see it or a witness sees what they're doing inside the vehicle and then the police come up, either arrest them on the spot or they cite them into court where they have to come in. Obviously, a lewd conduct charge is not something that you want on your criminal record.
I've been looking at a lot of defenses to these crimes. I recently had a case where my client admittedly did expose himself inside of his car with another person. The only problem with the prosecutor's case is that nobody from the outside saw it.
It was only the person from the inside indicating that he did it, that caused him to be charged, because the case was too weak to file any type of sexual battery charges because it was consensual, but the prosecutors filed a lewd conduct charge against him anyways, claiming that he exposed himself and it doesn't matter whether anybody saw it or whether anybody was in a position to see it.
Exposing Yourself in a Public Place
This is a real problem because usually the problem with these lewd conduct cases and the public policy behind this Penal Code Section has to do with other individuals seeing you expose one of your private parts out in public. So, if the prosecutors don't have that element, then obviously it goes against the jury instruction where you actually have to see somebody's body part out in public in order to be able to convict somebody of that charge. So, if there was nobody there to see it and nobody actually saw it, to try to substantiate a lewd conduct charge under these circumstances if going to be a tough road to hoe for the prosecutors.
So, if you're charged with lewd conduct and you're concerned that you're going to have to register as a sex offender and get jail time, obviously you're going to want to sit down with an attorney as soon as possible. What I have you do is I have you come in the office, we discuss whether or not you have a complete defense to this particular crime or whether it's something we're going to have to mitigate down to a lesser crime that does not have the same stigma and connotations that go along with a lewd conduct charge.
Another area where I'm seeing lewd conduct is when people are walking around in public, going in stores and different locations, and one of their body parts is exposed to the public in a sexual manner. So, sometimes there's an argument that the person didn't do it on purpose. It was an accident versus if they were intentionally trying to expose themselves in public.
So, this is definitely a defense to the crime, but obviously, the judge or the prosecutor — and even a jury if it does that far — are going to look at the surrounding circumstances related to what happened and see if it really makes sense that whatever the exposed situation was, was an accident versus somebody who did it on purpose for sexual gratification and is now just trying to pretend that it was an accident.
So, the judge and the prosecutor are going to look at the surrounding circumstances and see if it really makes sense that the particular individual intentionally exposed themselves or whether it was an accident.
Prior Criminal Record
Even if it was an accident, there are some cases and circumstances where the prosecutors can make a run and try to convict you, especially if you have a criminal record for this type of behavior, they're definitely not going to believe that it was an accident and they're likely to try to prosecute you so they can get some jail time on this offense.
When it comes to lewd conduct, probably one of the biggest factors that I see where they charge a case is if the person has a prior criminal record related to any type of sex offense and now they have a new lewd conduct charge, there's a real high probability that the prosecutors will file this type of a case because they just will not give the defendant the benefit of the doubt. They figure they must have done this on purpose, and therefore, they will file it and try to convict them.
If your defense attorney can block the other prior evidence from coming in, then you're in a much stronger position and be able to argue and win if it's a weak case. If on the other hand, there is evidence of you doing similar type conduct, you can bet that the prosecutors will certainly try to get this in in a lewd conduct prosecution to try to show the jury that you have propensity to commit this type of offense, there's no accident, there's no mistake.
You did it on purpose. So, usually the battle lines are going to be drawn as to whether or not they can get that other evidence in against you in making the decision whether or not you're going to be found guilty of a lewd conduct charge in Los Angeles county.
Penalties for Lewd Conduct – Penal Code 647(a)
Lewd conduct may be charged as a felony in California. If you are convicted with a charge of lewd conduct, you will face state imprisonment, fines of up to $10,000, and mandatory sex offender registration.
We at The Hedding Law Firm are here to help you avoid these charges involving lewd conduct. We will gather and contest all the evidence presented against you and do everything we can to get you the best results possible.
Lewd conduct charges arise from indecent exposure, child molestation, child pornography, and prostitution and occurs when a person solicits anyone to engage in or engages in lewd or immoral conduct in any public place or in any place exposed to public view.
To be convicted with the sex crime of lewd conduct under California Penal Code Section 647(a) the prosecution must prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements of the crime are: the person willfully engaged in the touching of his/her own or someone else's private areas; the person had the intent to sexual gratify self or another; the person was in a public place; someone else was present at the time that may have been offended; the person knew or should have known that a person who may have been offended was actually present.
Our objective as defense lawyers is to dispute all of the prosecution's evidence and show that the prosecution has not proved each of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt.
Our Los Angeles Attorneys can and will help you if you are being charged with any form of lewd conduct and fight all the allegations that are coming against you. Call for your free face to face consultation.