You never thought it would happen to you or your family member. You were recently arrested in the Beverly Hills area or anywhere in Southern California for lewd conduct in public. The first thing to do is not to panic. The second thing to do is seek immediate legal assistance as soon as possible.
A lewd conduct conviction has serious, long-term potential consequences in California. However, a skilled criminal defense attorney will work hard in an effort to avoid a criminal conviction of this type.
At the Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin, we have defended clients charged with lewd conduct in Beverly Hills and throughout Southern California for many years. We know the details, or elements, of the California Penal Code for lewd conduct. We also know strategies and defenses to aggressively and effectively fight these charges.
Aggressively Fighting to Defend Your Rights and Freedom
Our goal is to aggressively fight your case as we work towards getting the best possible outcome. We have won acquittals, dismissals and negotiated reduced sentences or charges for clients accused of lewd conduct. We are ready to represent you so that you can resolve this matter and move on with your life.
For a free legal consultation, contact the Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin at any time at 310-273-9600.
Now that you know the first things to do immediately, it is time to obtain an upper hand on the unknown. Knowledge is power and it is time to understand more about the crime you face.
What is Lewd Conduct as Defined under the California Penal Code?
Basically, the California Penal Code Section 647a defines Lewd Conduct as engaging in or soliciting in either lewd or dissolute conduct in a public place.
Lewd conduct involves touching genitalia, butt or female breasts. The touching is done for the purpose of sexual gratification. You can be accused of touching yourself or an alleged victim for the purpose of sexual gratification. According to California criminal law, you can be accused of touching yourself or someone else to offend another individual.
Another element, or part of the crime, is that the touching must occur in a public place or in an area easily viewable by the public. This means you must have touched yourself and/or someone else in a public area.
According to state criminal law, the term "public" has a broad definition. It can be a public area such as a government-owned property. The place could be an area open to the public such as a shopping mall or in a vehicle parked on the side of road. It also could be a private place in public view. This could range from a front porch or in a yard.
You cannot be arrested for lewd conduct in public if the act occurred inside a hotel room or home with one exception. That exception is that you had a door open or window with no curtains or blinds at the time of the alleged act.
Lewd conduct is an intent crime in California. An intent crime requires you to know or have the ability to know your actions may likely offend anyone present. This means that a charge of lewd conduct requires knowledge that touching yourself or someone else in public would offend anyone present at the time.
California Requires the Prosecution to Prove Each Element of a Lewd Conduct Charge
An accusation of lewd conduct is not a conviction. A conviction occurs if you admit guilt or are found guilty in a court of law. The state requires the prosecution in a court case to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you touched your genitals, butt or breasts or someone else's in public.
To obtain a conviction in a lewd conduct in public charge, the prosecution must show that the following things, called elements, occurred beyond all reasonable doubt:
- You touched your breast, butt or genitals or you touched another individual's butt, genitals or breast.
- The touching happened in a place that was in public view or in a public place.
- You committed the act for the purpose of sexual gratification or arousal. If you did not do this for any sexual gratification or arousal, you did it to offend or annoy someone.
- Another individual was present at the time of the illegal touching in public and was offended. Also, you knew or could have reasonably expected that your actions would have been seen and viewed as offensive.
As you have read, the last element is very detailed. It is also an easy for the prosecution to prove. They only need to meet the low bar of "knew or should have known." This means that your conduct would have likely been viewed by another person and found offensive. Nevertheless, a good attorney will have the ability to challenge this element.
Possible Penalties in a Conviction for Lewd Conduct
In California, lewd conduct in public is a misdemeanor, not a felony. A felony is publishable by a minimum of one year in prison. Lewd conduct is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to six months in county jail and maximum of $1,000 fine.
A person convicted of lewd conduct in public may receive informal probation instead of county jail time.
Probation may sometimes be an alternative to jail time. In certain cases, you may stay out of county jail as long as you meet certain restrictions on your freedom. These restrictions on your freedom are called probationary terms. These probationary terms typically include, but are not limited to:
- Paying additional fines
- Undergoing an AIDS test
- Attending mandatory counseling sessions
- Staying away from the location where the alleged lewd conduct occurred
Many California sex crimes require offenders to register as sex offenders. A lewd conduct in public conviction does not require anyone to register as a sex offender. However, a prosecutor may include a separate criminal charge called indecent exposure for the purpose of having a person register as a sex offender. Indecent exposure involves showing your genitals in public and does require a lifetime sex offender registration.
It is vital to have a skilled defense attorney who will know how to successfully challenge these moves to obtain a favorable outcome.
Common Defense Strategies Available Against a Lewd Conduct Charge
At the Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin, we have represented a wide range of lewd conduct cases for years. We know how to build a solid defense for you or your loved one. We use a variety of defense strategies in a lewd conduct case. A defense strategy is your legal right to challenge the prosecution's case against you.
Clients accused of lewd conduct in public have had different, specific defense strategies. Each case is different based on the facts and circumstances of a case. We want you to know that your defense strategy will be discussed during our initial consultation. Until that time, here are some basic defense strategies used in a lewd conduct case in California. We have included them so you have an idea of some of the potential defenses available:
- Lack of Intent: We mentioned earlier that a lewd conduct in public charge is an intent crime. This means you intended the touching to result in sexual arousal or gratification. It may be that you touched your genitals or private parts for another reason. However, you did not do this act with the intent of any type of sexual arousal or gratification. This means you had a lack of intent when you allegedly committed the crime. Many people will use this defense when they are accused of engaging in lewd conduct after they scratched their private area or touched their genitals to urinate.
- False Accusation: A false accusation defense involves showing that you are accused of something you did not do. Maybe someone said you touched yourself or another person in a particular way. The witness can be anyone. They can range from police officers to someone who wanted to get revenge. The burden of proof is the prosecutor's responsibility that you committed the lewd conduct crime. In many cases, there is not enough evidence to prove the allegations true beyond a reasonable doubt.
- The Touching did not Happen in a Private Place: To be convicted of lewd conduct in public, the act must take place in public. A valid defense is that you were not in a public place at the time of the alleged lewd conduct. It is up to the prosecution must show that the act took place on public property, a place open to the public or on private property viewable to people. If your defense is stronger than their "evidence," then your defense can be successful.
- No one Present at the Time: A lewd conduct in public requires you having the knowledge or should have had the knowledge that someone was present. However, it is a valid defense to claim that you thought no one was present at the time the alleged act occurred. You cannot be convicted of lewd conduct in public if you thought no one was present. You also cannot be convicted if you did not know a person present would likely be offended by your alleged actions.
- Police Entrapment: Beverly Hills police often go undercover to conduct sting operations. These operations are supposed to cause criminals to commit illegal acts in front of police. However, it will become police entrapment when they induce a law-abiding citizen to commit a crime they would not commit unless they were convinced to do it.
For example, most people arrested for lewd conduct are arrested in undercover sting operations. These sting operations typically occur when a police officer is posing as a homosexual male out cruising. "Cruising" refers to looking for sex or sexual activity.
An officer may act like a decoy in common hook-up locations for gay men or in public restrooms. However, sting operations can take place in massage parlors, malls, dark alleys and gyms.
What You Need to Know After a Lewd Conduct Arrest in Beverly Hills
After an arrest for lewd conduct in public, you may be given a citation. The citation is your notice to appear in court. However, you may be arrested, handcuffed and taken to the police department. At the police department, you may be fingerprinted, booked temporarily in county jail and required to appear in court at a later date.
You should contact a skilled criminal defense attorney immediately. They can work on your case immediately -- after the time of the arrest to the time the state formally files charges. For instance, during this time, they can meet with the prosecution in an effort to convince them not to pursue a criminal case.
Another benefit of contacting a defense attorney immediately is that you attorney can appear in court on your behalf. For a misdemeanor, you may not have to personally appear in court. Your attorney can appear on your behalf for many hearings.
If your case does go through the court process, your attorney will get access to the police report and evidence the prosecution may use. When we handle these cases, our investigation shifts to an investigation into the charge. We check the background of the arresting officer, investigate any witnesses and find evidence in an effort to win your case.
With your full knowledge and consent, we may seek a favorable plea deal. A plea deal is a guilty plea on your part in exchange for a lesser charge. The lesser criminal charge may vary from disturbing the peace to trespassing.
Many times, an acquittal or dismissal can be obtained because the prosecution's case is not as strong as they want you to believe it is. A skilled attorney can point out the weaknesses to a judge or jury.
Offenses Related to a Lewd Conduct in Public
Some criminal offenses are often charged along with a lewd conduct in public charge. For instance, lewd conduct and indecent exposure may be two charges you face. If you are not charged with two charges, a related offense may be part of plea deals. Offenses related to lewd conduct include:
- Loitering near a public toilet to commit Lewd Conduct: According to California law, this is a separate crime than lewd conduct in public. The crime can occur when you are hanging around a bathroom or public toilet for the purpose of engaging in an unlawful lewd act. It also includes soliciting around a restroom or toilet in public. This is not a reduction for lewd conduct in a public place and has the same penalties attached to it as a lewd conduct charge.
- Criminal Trespassing: Trespassing, defined under PC 602, is entering a person's property without their consent. It is a low-level offense that can result in an infraction or misdemeanor. Lewd conduct and trespassing have nothing in common, but you could be charged with this crime or be sentenced to this crime.
- Disturbing the Peace: According to PC 415, interrupting the peace is illegal. It ranges from fighting to disturbing people with unreasonably loud noise and/or using fighting words in public. This crime can be a misdemeanor or infraction. The only thing trespassing and lewd conduct have in common is they occur in a public place.
Contact the Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin Today for Immediate Legal Help
Here at the Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin, we know that a lewd conduct charge is a serious charge in California. We know how to effectively fight a lewd conduct in public charge in an effort to resolve this matter and keep your record clean.
A lewd conduct charge is an intricate criminal charge. It may seem like a simple criminal charge, but you cannot rely on your common sense to represent yourself in a criminal matter. This is a mistake.
You need an experienced criminal defense firm such as the Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin as your work to obtain the best resolution of your case. Whether it is a dismissal, reduction of charge or acquittal, you need an experienced legal team to represent you and fight for your rights.
Call Today to Schedule Your Free Consultation
Contact the Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin immediately at 310-273-9600 to schedule a free consultation. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We represent people accused of lewd conduct in public who are located in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and anywhere in the Southern California area. Our offices are located in the historic Courtyard Building. We are conveniently located in the heart of Beverly Hills on Canon Drive. Complimentary two-hour parking is provided.