23-year-old man (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) was recently arrested on charges of lewd conduct and sexual battery. Allegedly, he was walking with his dog on California Avenue near Birch Street when he started up a conversation with a young woman who was also walking there. Together, they walked for a few blocks and talked. The complainant, however, claims that things changed rapidly after a few minutes, that he spoke to her in an offensive and inappropriate manner and that he touched her intimate parts over her clothing, but without her permission. He left when the woman threatened to call for help.
In California, Penal Code 647(a) is entitled “Engaging in or Soliciting Lewd Conduct in Public.” Here, ‘lewd conduct’ refers to either a) touching your own intimate parts in order to offend another person or to sexually gratify yourself or b) you touch someone else’s intimate parts (genitals, buttocks, a woman’s breast/s) for the same reason or reasons. Any violation of this code is considered a misdemeanor. If you are convicted pursuant to this law, you may end up spending 6 months in county jail and have to pay a $1,000 fine.
The state of California also considers actions similar to that which he is accused of to fall into the category of misdemeanor sexual battery (CA Penal Code 243.4). According to this law, sexual battery means any physical contact done for the specific purpose of sexual gratification. However, this particular law, differing from lewd conduct, requires that the alleged victim be somehow unlawfully restrained. Conviction of a misdemeanor count of sexual battery will most likely end in up to 6 months in county jail, heavy fines, sex offender registration, and state-mandated sexual offender counseling.