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Lewd Conduct in Public

If you are charged with a misdemeanor under California Penal Code Section 647 the consequences can have long-term repercussions. A misdemeanor will appear on your criminal history which may impact your employment and future housing opportunities. If you are charged with a misdemeanor under PC 647, it is crucial to contact a state attorney who is capable of guiding your case through a courtroom.

California Penal Code Section 674 has a variety of subsections that provide legal literature on what types of acts are criminal under the law. For instance, public intoxication and loitering are offenses that can be charged under PC 647 (i) and PC 647 (f). In addition, being charged with PC 647 (a) (sexual conduct in a public space) can result in sex offender registration obligations. Sex offenders are required to register as public sex offenders on public registries that may be accessed by your neighbors, your employer, your housing agent, and by other members of the public.

To be convicted of a violation of PC 647, the prosecutor must prove that a) you were committing a lewd act in public, and b) that the act was committed outside expectations of privacy. Being charged with a lewd act requires that the prosecuting party prove that the act was committed on public space and that the act was in violation of the penal codes.

People who are caught in the act of a violating PC 647 may be arrested by an officer for a misdemeanor without a warrant. Upon arrest, the subject may spend up to 72 hours in a treatment and evaluation program. Any lewd conduct that involves a child or teenager under the age of 18 can be charged as a felony and can result in harsher punishments and fines.

The violator may be required to enter a courtroom where he or she is subject to the following if successfully convicted of lewd acts in public:

  • Up to six months in jail
  • Probation
  • Community Service
  • Sex offender registration and/or sex offender counseling
  • Up to one-thousand dollars in fines

Individuals who are convicted for violation of PC 647 will have a misdemeanor reflected on their record. Building a criminal record in relation to lewd conduct in public can result in the loss of rights and in harsher punishments for repeated offenses. The harsh repercussions described under the law for repeated offenses can result in the loss of happiness of life and civil liberties.

If you are charged with a lewd conduct in public, you must first understand your specific situation. As you will see in the following section, lewd conduct is a very diverse term that is used to include a variety of actions that are committed in public or private spaces. To have a clear understanding of your situation and of your protections under the law, you are encouraged to contact a local state attorney.

Our attorney will be capable of evaluating your case and providing the right approach to challenge your case in a courtroom. In some cases, our attorney will be able to drop the misdemeanor to charges of disturbing the peace. In other cases, our attorneys will defend your case if you have been falsely accused or misguided by an undercover police officer. An experienced attorney can provide more clarity on your case. To contact a local state attorney, feel free to contact the San Diego Criminal Attorney at 619-880-5474.

What is lewd conduct?

As mentioned earlier, the law defines lewd conduct as an act that goes against local moral standards. In essence, acts which are considered to be offensive are acts which are against the appropriate behavior. The California Penal Code section 647 addresses so much more than sexual activity in a public space. PC 647 defines a wide array of conducts that are considered illegal if performed in a public or private space. To have a better understanding of the different forms of lewd acts, the section below will break down the subsections found in Penal Code 647. Keep in mind that most of these crimes are charged as misdemeanors, however, if a child is involved, you may face more serious accusations which may implement harsher punishments and penalties.

Penal Code 647(a)

It is a violation of PC 647 (a) to engage in inappropriate behavior within the eye of the public view for the purpose of achieving a sexual pleasure or for other mischievous purposes such as giving someone a hard time or attempting to offend bystanders. Sexual activity in a public place is not necessarily illegal, but it becomes a crime when others who are present are offended by the actions. Lewd conduct under PC 647 (a) includes public self-exposure of genitalia, flashing, groping, soliciting others to engage in a lewd act. In violation of subsection (a), the defendant may be sentenced to up to six months in jail and may be fined up to one-thousand dollars. For repeated offenses, such as a repeated self-exposure offense, the defendant may be charged with a felony. A felony for indecent exposure under PC 314 would require the defendant to register as a sex offender and may be sentenced to time in jail.

Penal (b) explains that it is a crime to engage or solicit for sexual favors in exchange for money or for ‘anything of value’. Prostitution is also charged as a misdemeanor which will result in a maximum of 6 months in jail and up to one-thousand dollars in fines. However, the penalties and punishments for ‘pimping’ or running a prostitution household much greater consequences that can be charged as a felony. In addition, if the sexual favors were extended to a child under the age of 18, the violator is subject to the punishments described in PC 288. A conviction under PC 288 lewd acts with a child, the violator may be charged with up to a lifetime in prison and fines that can range up to ten-thousand dollars. In cases involving children under the age of 18, the court will take into account a variety of factors before providing a final verdict. Whatever the case may be, interacting with a child for sexual purposes is a crime that is usually treated with a felony.

Penal Code 647(c)

PC 647 (c) explains that it is illegal to go up to people in public places to ask for money or food. For example, it is illegal to stand outside a business complex and ask passersby for money or for other forms of alms.

Penal Code 647(d)

Under PC 647 (d) it is illegal to loiter around public toilet places with the purpose of engaging in a lewd act.

Penal Code 647(e)

PC 647 (e) explains that it is illegal for a person to lodge in another person's private property including a building, a private structure, a vehicle, and other places considered to be in control of someone else. Lodging in this instance defines the act of staying or sleeping in another person's property. Lodging is not illegal when there is consent from the owner or in the presence of an agreement. For example, it is illegal for homeless people to inhabit the space underneath a public building for the purpose of sleeping or staying for a period of time without the consent of the owner.

Penal Code 647(f)

PC 647 (f) explains that it is illegal and considered a lewd act when a person is intoxicated in a public space. Under this section, it is a misdemeanor to obstruct the sidewalk and other venues that allow the free passage of people while under the influence of alcohol or any other type of drug or controlled substance.

Penal Code 647(g) 

PC 647 (g) explains that in violation of PC 647 (f), a peace officer (meaning a person employed by the state, county or municipality) may place the intoxicated person under civil custody. The person shall remain in protective custody for 72 hours where they must undergo a treatment and evaluation program. Upon completion of a 72-hour program, the subject may not be subject to criminal prosecution unless 1) the person was intoxicated with more than just alcohol, 2) the peace officer believes that the subject has committed a felony, 3) the peace officer believes you will attempt escape.

Penal Code 647(h)

PC 647 (h) explains that it is illegal for a person to ‘loiter’ in a private or place of business without ‘visible or lawful’ reason to be there. The law describes that loitering is standing around a place ‘waiting’ for the perfect time to commit a crime.

Penal Code 647(i)

PC 647 (i) explains that on top of loitering, it is illegal to loiter and peep into private property. Individuals who loiter without visible or lawful reason may be charged with additional penalties if they are found peeping into private property. In other cases, if you are loitering with the intent to spy or peep in on a child, the consequences can be greater. On top of a felony, you may be required to register as a sex offender which will limit your job and housing opportunities. 

Penal Code 647(j)

PC 647 (j) adds to PC 647 (i) explaining that it is illegal to use instruments such as telescopes, camcorders, cameras, and other devices to peep into a bedroom, bathroom, changing room, or other spaces where a person may be doing something in the comfort of their privacy. In addition, it is illegal for the use of a camcorder or other recording devices to peep under clothing for self-gratification reasons. Under this subsection, it is also illegal to distribute any image or recording of a naked person without their consent or permission. For example, Tom is peeping through a window with a camcorder, he later distributes his findings to his friends. His friend reports Tom to the local law enforcement agency. Tom would be charged with a misdemeanor under PC 647 (j) for peeping into a window with a recording device and later distributing the findings to his friends.

Penal Code 647(k)

PC 647 (k) explains that a court may suspend the right to operate a motor vehicle if and when the motor vehicle is present or used to commit a lewd act. If a vehicle is found within one-thousand feed of a private residence and the vehicle was used to transport the person to commit a lewd act, the right to operate a vehicle may be suspended for up to thirty days. However, under certain circumstances, a court may order a restriction meaning that the individual may only be capable of transporting themselves to work and school.

To learn more about the specific language found in Penal Code 647, you may visit the following page: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=647.&lawCode=PEN

National Sex Offender Registry

Certain types of conducts will constitute a felony. If you are a charged with a felony for self-exposure or for soliciting sexual favors in exchange for money, it is most likely because there was a child involved. Lewd conduct with a child may be charged under Penal Code 288 which mandates that the violator register for a period of time as a sex offender. As a rule of thumb, committing a lewd act around or with a child under the age of 18 will usually hold higher consequences than if the act was committed with or around another adult. Whatever the case may be, you do not want your rap sheet to reflect a crime for violating basic public behavioral principles.

To learn more about the sex offender registry, you may visit the following page: https://www.nsopw.gov/?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

Contacting A San Diego Lewd Conduct in Public Attorney Near You

Traditionally, lewd conduct refers to sexual acts such as indecent exposure and or groping oneself in front of others for the purpose of self-gratification or the purpose of disturbing others. If you are charged with a misdemeanor for lewd conduct, you may be charged with fines and a jail sentence. Furthermore, if you have committed a lewd act in the presence of a child or with a child, you may face more severe consequences. To learn about the specific factors of your case, it is crucial to discuss your situation with a local attorney.

If you are facing charges of lewd conduct in public, you should contact a local attorney today. Laws are different in every state so make sure your attorney is capable of applying both federal and local state laws to your case. To reach a law professional, you may contact the San Diego Criminal Attorney at 619-880-5474.

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