Summit Defense Criminal Attorneys believe strongly that these are minor, almost victim-less offenses. We have developed effective legal strategies to protect your clean record, avoid registration and keep you out of jail. These cases are often misunderstandings that can be cleared up before trial.
The offenses of ‘lewd conduct in a public place’ and ‘indecent exposure’ prohibit certain behaviors in public places, or within view of public places. Sexual activity in a public place in California is not, by itself, illegal – but if you knew, or reasonably should have known, that someone was present who might see and be offended by your conduct, then the behavior can be considered ‘lewd conduct in a public place’. As for public nudity, it will not necessarily lead to a charge of indecent exposure in California – what makes that kind of activity ‘indecent’ is when it is done with a desire to either sexually gratify oneself or to offend another person.
How Serious is the Charge of Lewd Conduct in Public?
A charge of lewd conduct or indecent exposure might not seem very serious but the consequences can be devastating – including time in prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender. In the past, these offenses were usually seen as a kind of ‘nuisance’ offense, and sex offender registration was rarely an issue. However, with so much hysteria surrounding sex offenses today, these matters have been drawn into that category – when they are not in the same league at all. Judges and District Attorneys usually push hard for charges where sex offender legislation applies – even on a first offense. This means that these charges cannot be taken lightly and you need the best representation possible.
Summit Defense Attorneys have handled hundreds of indecent exposure and lewd conduct matters and, in many cases, we are able to prevent charges being filed altogether. To discuss what we can do in your case, call Summit Defense Attorneys today for a free initial consultation.
What is Lewd Conduct in Public?
It is an offense under California Penal Code 647(a) to engage in ‘lewd or dissolute conduct’ in a public place, or in a place that is open to the public or exposed to public view. ‘Lewd or dissolute’ conduct means that you touch your private parts, or someone else’s, and you do so for your own sexual gratification or to offend someone else. It is also considered lewd conduct to ‘solicit’ someone else to engage in this kind of behavior – which simply means that you ask or encourage someone else to commit the offense.
The law in this area is fairly vague, which means that it can cover behavior that might not be thought of as serious enough to warrant criminal charges in this day and age. For example, if a woman ‘flashes’ her breasts at her boyfriend in a crowded bar, and her intention is to sexually excite herself or her boyfriend, then she could be charged with committing a lewd act in a public place. It would also be an offense for a man in a car to flash his buttocks – usually referred to as ‘mooning’ – at a lady driving another car with the intention of offending her. Nevertheless, this is a serious charge with potentially serious consequences.
In California, lewd conduct in public is a misdemeanor.
If you are charged with Penal Code 647(a) lewd conduct, it means that you are accused of an offense of ‘disorderly conduct’ – in this case, engaging in lewd conduct in a public place – which is a misdemeanor. The possible penalties for a misdemeanor are lower than for a felony, and can be reduced substantially with the assistance of an experienced lawyer.