Vista criminal attorney is a well-versed criminal defense law firm held in high regard by clients in and around the North County, California area. The lawyers assigned to your case by our firm are highly knowledgeable in California laws making them suitable for criminal representation on charges of sex crimes. At Vista criminal attorney, our lawyers will work round the clock to prepare your defense to have the best possible outcome.
How is Lewd Conduct Defined under California Law?
In general terms, a lewd or salacious act can be defined as a behavior or an act that is erotic in character, carried out with the aim of sensually triggering either the wrongdoer or the individual to whom the act is aimed.
In lawful terms, a public place is explained as any setting within reach of, or readily on display for the general public. These include places such as; roads, public parks, stores, eateries, and auditoriums. In addition, there are locations that are not automatically accessible to the general public yet considered public places in a court of law, therefore, accusing a person with lewd behavior in public. They include; prisons, jails, and hospitals.
What is Lewd Conduct in a Public Place Under California Law?
The state of California under Civil Code 647(a), identifies lewd behavior in public as the act where a given individual:
- takes part in lewd or immoral behavior in a public setting, or
- asks a second party to do so, and
- carries out the deed in a public location, a setting that is accessible to the general public, or they are visible to the public eye.
In accordance to the California law, lewd behavior is explained as the act where the individual touches their private parts, or another party’s private parts with the intent to either fulfill the said offender sexually, that is done in an offensive or insulting manner.
Private parts are further explained as being; the female bust, crotch, or the buttocks.
What Are the Penalties for Lewd or Immoral Conduct in Public?
With regard to the California law, lewd behavior in public is considered a misdemeanor. This means that although this offense falls under sex crimes, the price to be paid is considerably less when compared to other serious offenses in the same category.
The maximum penalty that is put in place for lewd behavior in public is:
- not more than (6) months in the county jail,
- a legal fee not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000).
A more feasible approach is however preferred by some California judges in such cases, whereby they permit misdemeanor probationary period, which in turn sees the offender serve little to no jail sentence at all.
Requirements for Civil Code 647(a), lewd actions in public probation might consist of;
- professional counseling,
- community service,
- an HIV/ AIDS screening and,
- an obligation that the offender keeps distance with the location where they committed the offense.
Under California law, a misdemeanor probationary period is put in place as a substitute to jail time. Instead of serving time in jail, they are kept under the watchful eye of the court for most or all their sentence. Misdemeanor probationary period is also known as an informal or summary probation in the state of California.
The Misdemeanor probationary period is however not to be confused with the graver California formal or felony probation.
Misdemeanor probationary period usually goes on for one (1) to three (3) years, with some rare cases lasting up to five (5) years. This is the period that the offender must meet all the requirements stipulated in their probation.
In the situation that the offender fails to meet the set requirements, the judge has the power to withdraw the probation and send the said offender to jail instead.
A considerable number of lewd conducts in public charges generally arise from sting operations that are carried out by legal administrators.
Lewd Conduct Undercover Operations
Majority of these police set-up scenarios entail either; a law enforcement officer posing as someone who is out looking for a good time, or officers of the law observing isolated public areas. The disguised cops may proceed to entice a given individual. The said individual might get arrested and charged with lewd behavior in public if they; uncover themselves, suggest some erotic act or play with themselves in a sexual manner.
Some of the most common locations that are prone to police set-up operations include; public restrooms, adult bookstores, and toy shops, public gardens, shopping centers, and alleys. According to the police officers, most of these sting operations are a response to resident grievances in the community.
What a Prosecuting Attorney Must Prove for a Lewd Conduct Conviction
In order for a prosecuting attorney to secure a lewd conduct conviction, they must establish several appropriate elements.
The offender intentionally took part in the touching of their own or another individual’s genitals, behind or a female’s bust.
If the said perpetrator came into contact with their privates or those of a second party with the aim to gratify themselves sensually, they are considered guilty. If the act itself was not intentional or purely accidental, they most likely are going to walk free.
The offender acted with the intent to fulfill their sensual desires or those of a second party, or in order to infuriate or insult somebody else.
The offender must have been fully aware of their actions which they nonetheless carried out with the intent of infuriating a second party who was close by if not to satisfy themselves sexually. This is a crucial aspect if a suspect is to be convicted of lewd conduct in public.
At the time the perpetrator committed the dissolute act, they were in a public setting, or in a setting that is open to either the public or public view.
For a suspect to be tried for lewd actions in public, the incident itself should take place in a public scene, a setting that is accessible to the general public, or a location visible to the public eye.
Throughout the history of the California courts, the word public has been explained in more ways than you can count. Places such as one’s household, guesthouse room as well as one’s closed place of business are however private settings. One could nevertheless be held in violation of Civil Code 647(a), lewd behavior in public if either of the said places is visible to the general public.
At the very moment that the offender took part in the raunchy behavior, somebody else rather than the said offender was present and might have taken offense.
If the offender engaged in the raunchy behavior without taking into consideration who might be in the vicinity, they could be easily found answerable to charges of lewd actions in public jeopardizing their general reputations as well as total credibility.
The offender was aware, or rationally should have identified that another individual who could have taken offense in the said offender’s actions was present.
The sheer likelihood of being seen by another individual is not enough to convict a defendant. There instead should be a real chance of third persons being nearby.
As per the California Civil Code 647(a) lewd conduct in public, taking part in an erotic activity in a public setting is not necessarily against the law. It becomes unlawful only in the situation that the offender was aware, or rationally should have been aware that another individual who could have taken offense in the said offender’s action was present.
Legal Defenses for Lewd Conduct in Public Charges
The defense a wrongdoer will take is going to be determined by the conditions of the legal proceedings itself. There is no surety that a given defense is going to work for any case. A lot of factors will have to come into play. Some of the most regular reasons include:
The offender took no part in the deeds of which they are indicted.
Most of the time, by claiming and sticking to innocence, there is no one else to challenge the defendant other than the officer of the law who arrested them.
Often, the prosecuting attorney fails to indict the offender especially if they cannot provide concrete evidence on any acts of lewd actions in public.
The defendant touched their private parts but not for sensual fulfillment.
If the arrest of the offender took place in a restroom, they could have been urinating which might nullify the charges. The action of urinating requires physical contact with one’s genitals hence invalidating such an argument. If one touches themselves without any sensual intent and no concrete evidence is brought forth, they cannot be proven accountable for lewd behavior in a court of law.
- The offender rationally thought there was nobody else present that would take offense in the act. This happens to be one of the most common defenses to the charges in this case. If the offender had no prior knowledge and genuinely thought that there was no other individual in the vicinity whom they would have offended with their actions, then they are innocent of the charges.
- The defendant was neither in a public setting nor in a setting that is open to either the public or public view. If one chooses to take part in erotic acts while in their private residence, they cannot be indicted for lewd conduct. Nevertheless, if the public has an open view of the private property, the offender can be prosecuted for lewd actions in public.
- The law enforcers set-up the offender or used other illegal means. In some cases, law enforcement officers might use their power to make an upstanding individual take part in wrongdoing which they normally would keep away from. These types of police officers could typically hassle, threaten, sweet-talk or swindle a persons into committing illegal activities.
Charges Related to Lewd Conduct in Public
There are several charges that are related to lustful conduct in public in one way or the other. Some of these charges carry heavier consequences, whereas others are not as grave. Several of these common charges include:
Civil Code 314, obscene exposure.
When you display your nether regions intentionally to another person, with the aim to sensually please yourself or upset the said person, you are in direct violation of California Civil Code 314, obscene exposure.
When one is charged with indecent exposure, they are required by law to enlist as a California sex offender. This is particularly distressing when it comes to an individual’s overall life including their career, schooling, and family.
In typical situations, a first-time sex offender is indicted for a misdemeanor and is subject to pay legal fees not exceeding one thousand ($1000) dollars, serve a jail period of a maximum of 6 (months), or both. In the situation that a defendant is charged with a second offense or repeated sex offender, it becomes a felony and they are required to serve a prison sentence at the state prison.
Civil Code 415, disturbing the peace
Also known as breaking the peace in some cases, this Penal Code can be violated when one party starts a fight or challenges a second party to fight in a public setting. You could also be in violation if you use offensive language in public with the intent to stir up violent feedback, and if you bother another individual with loud and unnecessary noise.
Under California law, disturbing the peace is an offense that can be prosecuted for a misdemeanor or even an infraction in less severe incidents. The offender is subject to legal fees of up to four hundred dollars ($400), not more than ninety (90) days in the county jail, or both.
Civil Code 602, trespassing.
As stated in Civil Code 602 PC of the California law, you are likely to be tried for the offense of trespassing when you either; get in the way of someone who is making use of and enjoying their possessions, create trouble on someone else’s property, or you refuse to leave even after the owner of the property asks you to move away.
In California, the offense of trespassing can be treated either as a misdemeanor, an infraction or a felony. This will, however, depend on the specific situation of the lawsuit. In some instances, simple trespassing can be treated as a transgression whereby the defendant is only required to pay a small legal fee.
In most cases, however, trespassing in California is going to get you indicted for a misdemeanor. This means that you will have to pay a legal fee not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1000), serve a maximum of six (6) months at the county jail, or both.
Felony charges, on the other hand, come into question if an offer happens to commit aggravated trespass. When an offender issues threats to harm another individual then goes ahead and goes into their household or place of work without the said individual’s consent, it is considered as aggravated trespass thus treated as a felony. This could mean a two-thousand-dollar ($2000) legal fee payment and two (2) to three (3) year jail term for the offender.
Civil Code 288, lewd conduct with a child.
Although this charge is closely related to, it should not be confused with lewd conduct in public. This is because Civil Code 647 (a), lewd behavior in public clearly states that the offense should take place in a public location, a setting that is accessible to the general public, or a setting visible to the public eye, Civil Code 288 forbids the touching of a minor’s body for sensual stimulation, regardless of whether in public or a private location.
This means that either touching a child for erotic reasons or causing a minor to touch themselves or some other person for erotic reasons is forbidden as per the said Penal Code. One could find themselves facing charges of lewd deeds with a child if they touched any part of the body in a minor for sensual motives. It does not matter if the said offender came into contact with the child’s bare skin or if they were clothed.
Lewd actions with a minor are treated as a felony in the State of California and the punishment is handed according to several factors pertaining to a given case. An offender may find themselves facing a minimum of one (1) year, to life imprisonment in the state prison.
Civil Code 261.5 PC, statutory rape.
In California, the law makes it clear under Civil Code 261.5 PC statutory rape, that it is illegal to engage in sexual relations with an individual under the age of eighteen (18) years old. Statutory rape, otherwise known as illegal sex with a minor, is considered an offense in California irrespective of whether the child agreed to the act or made the initial contact.
Depending on several factors that surround a statutory rape case, it could either be charged as a felony or misdemeanor in a California court. The main factor that might determine the direction the case is going to take is the age gap between the offender and the minor. An offender might face legal fee payments in the range of two thousand ($2,000) dollars to twenty-five thousand ($25,000) dollars, or a maximum of four (4) years in the county jail.
Find a Vista Criminal Attorney Specializing in Lewd Conduct in Public Near me
To say the least, lewd behavior in public can be quite an uncomfortable offense to be tried for. It could also mean a tarnished reputation for the offender if they are found guilty. If you ever find yourself on the wrong side of the law, you will need to seek out the services of a defense attorney. Here at Vista Criminal attorney, we provide lawyers who are well practiced in the California law and who can represent you successfully in a court hearing. Call our Vista Criminal Lawyer at 760-691-1551 today and schedule your meeting with us.