Having sex in a movie theater or in the back of a restroom might seem like a good idea at that moment, but in the State of California-it could be considered a crime. Even though lewd conduct is a non-registrable sex offense, it is still a criminal act which can have serious and lifelong repercussions. In addition to the public embarrassment a charge of lewd conduct can bring, District Attorneys often pursue these crimes as aggressively as more serious sex crimes. As such, your wild adventure or lapse in judgment may leave you facing criminal charges.
California Lewd Conduct Laws
According to California Penal Code § 647(a) a number of sexual acts in public fall into the category of lewd conduct. These acts include public flashing, mooning, groping, sex and reciprocating or giving oral sex, amongst others. While these acts may not seem like criminal conduct when they are occurring, if convicted, they can follow you throughout your life-causing a tremendous amount of humiliation and social stigmas.
In order to be convicted of lewd conduct in public, the prosecution must establish ALL of the following:
- You solicited or engaged in the touching of genitals, breasts or buttocks (yours or another person’s)
- This conduct occurred in a public place
- You performed this act for sexual arousal or to offend someone
- You knew or should have known that other people would be offended by witnessing these acts
California Lewd Conduct -the Penalties
While generally charged as a misdemeanor, lewd conduct charges can be increased to a felony if your sexual conduct involved a minor. In addition, those that are charged with lewd conduct may also be facing felony charges for indecent exposure, child molestation or sexual battery. If you are convicted of misdemeanor lewd conduct in the State of California, the penalties are:
- Maximum of 6 months in county jail
- Maximum fines of $1,000
California Lewd Conduct-Building a Defense
Many cases of lewd conduct are the result of undercover sting operations. In California, undercover officers often pose themselves as gay men looking for a good time. They lure unsuspecting gay men into public restrooms or behind park bushes and then arrest them for lewd conduct. In this situation, the accused may actually be innocent of lewd conduct, since he went into the bathroom in order to be discreet. In addition, since the officer approached him, he believed that he was in the company of someone who would “not” be offended by his sexual conduct. In this situation, a shrewd and experienced California criminal defense attorney will be able to aggressively defend against these false allegations and have your charges dropped all together.
Public masturbation can be more difficult to defend, since many accused people are also facing charges of indecent exposure or molestation of a minor. If you attempted to make yourself private by shielding your genitals or hiding behind a bush, an aggressive defense would be able to question that your act actually occurred in public and therefore does not constitute as lewd conduct. Even if you are facing multiple charges, the California defense attorneys at Ahmed & Sukaram attack these charges aggressively to have them reduced. In many cases your California defense attorney can convince the District Attorney to reduce the charges to lesser offenses such as disturbing the peace.
The attorneys at Ahmed & Sukaram understand how sensitive and delicate lewd conduct charges can be. As such, extreme care is taken to resolve these cases without a public court appearance. The majority of misdemeanor lewd conduct cases can be resolved without the public or anyone in your family learning about these allegations. The attorneys at Ahmed & Sukaram are prepared to guard your privacy-even while aggressively fighting for your rights.
For more information about California lewd conduct defense, Ahmed & Sukaram criminal defense lawyers, felonies, misdemeanors, your rights, or for answers to general questions, please contact us.