CA Penal Code 647(a) PC

PC 647(a) – Lewd Conduct in Public

PC 647(a) - Lewd Conduct in Public

Lewd Conduct in Public – Table of Contents

Engaging in or Soliciting Lewd Conduct in Public

In the state of California, engaging in lewd conduct in public is a criminal offense that is defined under Penal Code Section 647(a) PC. This offense can have serious consequences, including collateral damage to one’s reputation and potential legal penalties. Understanding the definition, elements of the crime, penalties, and legal defenses related to lewd conduct is crucial for individuals who find themselves facing such charges.

Sexual activity is not the act that is made illegal in this statute, even if done in public. Instead, conduct is considered lewd when you should know someone else is viewing the action and would be offended by it.

Penalties for PC 647(a)

Lewd conduct in public is charged as a misdemeanor, and carries with it a penalty of up to six months in jail and up to a fine of $1,000. If charged, as is often the case, with indecent exposure, you will be required to register your name as a sex offender.

Definition and Elements of the Crime

Lewd conduct under California Penal Code Section 647(a) PC involves either engaging in public lewd conduct or soliciting another person to engage in this conduct. To prove that the defendant is guilty of engaging in lewd conduct, the prosecution must establish the following elements:

  1. The defendant willfully engaged in the touching of his or her own or another person’s genitals, buttocks, or breasts (for females).
  2. The defendant did so with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify themselves or another person, or to annoy or offend another person.
  3. The conduct took place in a public place or a place open to public view.
  4. Someone else who might have been offended was present at the time of the conduct.
  5. The defendant knew or reasonably should have known that another person who might have been offended by their conduct was present.

In the case of soliciting lewd conduct, the prosecution must establish the following elements:

  1. The defendant requested that another person engage in the touching of genitals, buttocks, or breasts (for females).
  2. The defendant requested that the other person engage in the conduct in public.
  3. The request was made while the defendant was in a public place.
  4. The defendant intended for the conduct to occur in a public place.
  5. The defendant made the request with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify themselves or another person, or to annoy or offend another person.
  6. The defendant knew or reasonably should have known that someone likely to be present could be offended by the requested conduct.
  7. The other person received the communication containing the request.

Related Offenses

Several offenses are similar to lewd conduct under Penal Code Section 647(a) PC. These include:

Understanding these related offenses can provide a broader context for individuals facing charges related to lewd conduct.

Prosecuting California PC 647(a)

In order to be convicted of violating lewd conduct in public penal code 647(a) for engaging in lewd conduct in public, the prosecutor must prove:

  1. You engaged in lewd conduct in public; and
  2. You were in a public place.

It is also illegal to get someone else to engage in the lewd conduct on your behalf. This type of solicitation will hold you criminally liable for the same crime.

Conduct is “lewd” if it involves the touching or exposing of your private body parts in order to achieve sexual gratification or to offend another person. This means the exposure or touching of your genitals, breasts, or buttocks to annoy another person or sexually gratify yourself in a public place is a the crime.

Defending California PC 647(a)

Criminal cases distinguish themselves from civil cases in that the burden on the prosecution is much higher. In a criminal matter, the prosecutor must prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that every single element of lewd conduct in public crime is met. This means that the prosecutor must present evidence and witnesses that would convince the judge or jury that each element is present.

Hiring an attorney in the early stages of these proceedings is vital, because there are many ways to avoid punishment or reduce charges that only a skilled attorney could manage and navigate.

First, an attorney will argue the prosecutor has failed to meet the heavy burden described above. If the conduct you engaged might not be enough to be considered “lewd” or if there was not quite a good enough reason for you to believe another person was present and watching or would be offended, then you cannot be convicted of this crime. This presence of reasonable doubt is vital.

Your attorney may also be able to prove you did not engage in lewd conduct, or that you no intent to seek sexual gratification or annoy another. Showing someone your private parts for medical reasons or other purposes is not enough to result in a conviction.

If the place was not actually public, or if it was public and no one was around, you will be acquitted, as well. There needs to be someone there that watched and was offended by your actions. And you had to have reason to believe there may be someone there to watch.

If you were falsely accused or you were identified as the perpetrator of a crime you did not commit, your attorney can also introduce evidence that, although the crime may have been committed, it simply was not committed by you.

We Want to Help

If you or a loved one is being charged with Lewd Conduct in Public in violation of PC 647(a) in California, we invite you to contact us immediately for a free case review. Schedule an appointment to meet with us in person, or feel free to submit an evaluation online and we will get in contact with you ASAP. We can provide a free consultation in our office located in Century City, or by phone.

Our experienced and assiduous Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyers will be sure to fight until the end to reduce or drop your charges completely.

Call Us for a FREE Case Review: 310-274-6529

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Lara S.
June 4, 2018
Seppi had my case reduced to just an infraction, and thanks to him I was able to keep my job. Jorge was extremely helpful too, the reason I went with this law firm. Overall pleased.

How to Win Your Case

We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:

  1. Don’t ever talk to the police
  2. Do not discuss your case with anyone
  3. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
  4. Tell police you need to contact your attorney
  5. Never consent to any search by the police
  6. If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
  7. Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
  8. Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
  9. Information on your cell phone is evidence
  10. Early Intervention is the key

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