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Los Angeles Lewd Conduct in Public Lawyers

What is Lewd Conduct in Public?

Similar to every other jurisdiction in the United States, California has outlawed public acts that are considered lewd. Pursuant to California Penal Code section 647(a), a person is prohibited from soliciting or engaging in lewd acts in public or in a place within public view. A defendant who is convicted of public lewd conduct will possibly face time in jail and suffer damage to his or her reputation and employment prospects. Because a conviction of this crime carries such harsh penalties, it is very important to consider retaining a qualified lawyer for legal representation in all proceedings relating to the charge.

What Do We Mean By Lewd?

While it is fairly obvious what we mean by public conduct, it is less clear what is meant by the term “lewd.” Where the law uses the word “lewd,” it is referring to conduct that involves sexual gratification or other forms of sexual deviancy. Phrased in another way, conduct is considered lewd if its purpose is immoral and designed for some sort of deviant sexual gratification. A classic example of a lewd act would be where an adult touches or molests a child for purposes of sexual arousal.

We should remember that lewd conduct in public is not limited to sexual acts involving children. Lewd actions can involve other kinds of actions of a sexual nature such as public masturbation at a movie theater or at a bar. It is also possible that any sort of contact with your own or another person’s breasts, buttocks or genitals would be considered a violation of Penal Code Section 647(a).

Elements of Proof

For someone who is charged with lewd conduct in public, what may be most important from a legal standpoint is what the prosecutor will have to establish in court in order to get a conviction. Essentially, the prosecutor must show that the defendant willfully engaged in the touching of his or her own or another person’s genitals, buttocks, or female breast; that the defendant did so with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify himself or herself or another person, or to annoy or offend another person; that the acts were committed in a public place; that someone was present when the act was committed and might have been offended; and that the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that another person might have been offended by the conduct.

While the elements of proof to this crime are not overly complicated, there does need to be some clarification on the meaning of some of the terms. First the actions must be either sexual in nature or offensive in nature to be actionable. Second, public places are locations where anyone can go such as movie theaters, sidewalks or public restrooms. Third, there must be a third party present when the actions took place and the defendant must be aware or reasonably should have known of the presence of that third party.


If you retain an attorney to assist you with the defense of the charge, there are a number of defenses that the attorney may discuss with you. Overall, these defenses attack each element of the crime. Such defenses would include, for example, that the conduct was committed by accident, that there was no intent that the actions were sexual or offensive, that the actions did not occur in public or that there was no third party present when the conduct occurred.


In California, a conviction of Lewd Conduct in Public is considered a misdemeanor. As such the conviction carries the possibility of six months in jail and/or a fine of $1,000.00.

We Can Help

If you are ever charged with the crime of Lewd Conduct in Public in Los Angeles, you will need experienced and knowledgeable attorneys by your side to provide the best possible defense in your case. Contact us as soon as you are able to discuss how we can provide the best possible legal representation.

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