­Lewd Acts in Public – California Penal Code Section 647(a) PC

California Penal Code Section 647(a) PC titled “Lewd Acts in Public” makes it a crime for a person to publicly touch his or her own private parts or the private parts of another person for sexual gratification or to annoy or offend another person. The term private parts refers to a person’s genitals, buttocks, or female breasts.

A violation of this criminal statute can result in a misdemeanor conviction, imprisonment in a county jail for up to six months, as well as a fine of up to $1000. So, if you have been charged with performing lewd acts in public in violation of penal code 647(a), you should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend you and keep you from going to jail.

The sex crimes attorneys at The H Law Group has represented thousands of people charged with crimes, so rest assured that your future is in great hands. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.

Text of California Penal Code Section 647(a) PC – Lewd Acts in Public

According to California Penal Code Section 647(a) PC, “An individual who solicits anyone to engage in or who engages in lewd or dissolute conduct in any public place or in any place open to the public or exposed to public view.”

Note: Engaging in sexual acts in a public place is not a crime; however, engaging in sexual conduct when you are aware or should have reasonably been aware that people are present or are watching what you’re doing would be offended by your conduct.

Also, the difficulty in applying this statute is understanding what constitutes lewd acts? For example, masturbating in a movie theater or touching female breasts to sexually arouse another person in public falls within the scope of behavior prohibited by this criminal statute.

A public space according to this criminal statute is any place that is open to the public such as a movie theater, park, public bathroom, or any other place where the public is welcome to enter.

Proving a Person Guilty of Engaging in Lewd Acts in Public in Violation of PC 647(a)

For the prosecution to convict a person of engaging in lewd acts in public in violation of PC 647(a), it will have to prove a few elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to prove even one element, it cannot convict the defendant of the crime.

Here are the elements the prosecution must prove:

  • The defendant touched his own genitals, buttocks, or female breasts, or those of another person

AND

  • The defendant did so with the intent to sexually gratify or arouse himself or another person or to offender another

AND

  • The defendant was in a public place or a place that’s viewable by the public

AND

  • At the time the defendant engaged in the lewd conduct, another person who may have been offended was present

AND

  • The defendant knew or should have reasonably known that another person was present

Penalty for Performing Lewd Acts in Public in Violation of PC 632

If the prosecution convicts the defendant of performing lewd acts in public, the defendant faces the following penalties:

  • Conviction of a misdemeanor offense
  • Up to six months in county jail
  • A fine of up to $1000
  • Placement on informal misdemeanor probation in lieu of jail for three to five years
  • No requirement to register as a sexual offender
  • Performance of community service

Note: The consequences you face may be different depending on the circumstances of your facts, your criminal history, and whether you have been charged in crimes in addition to this one.

Defenses for Engaging in Lewd Acts in Public

If you have been charged with engaging in lewd acts in public, there are a number of defenses that your attorney can use to defend you. This is a list of some of the available defenses and is not exhaustive of all of the defenses that may apply to your case. To determine all applicable defenses, you should schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys to go over the facts of your case. Here are some of the defenses that your attorney may be able to use to defend you:

  • The defendant touched genital, buttocks, or female breasts as the result of an accident
  • The defendant did not have the intent to sexually gratify himself or another person
  • No one was present to see the defendant engaging in lewd acts. Nor did the defendant have reason to believe that anyone else was watching him

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with performing lewd acts in public, you should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at The H Law Group to defend you and keep you from going to jail. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to mitigate the potential consequences that you face, so rest assured, your future is in great hands. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.

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Charged with a Crime?


Act now to protect your legal rights.