Engaging in or Soliciting Lewd Conduct in Public (PC 647 (a)):
Under Penal Code 647 (a), it is illegal to engage in lewd or dissolute conduct in any place, or to solicit someone else to do so. Lewd conduct is defined as touching your private parts (or another person’s private parts) with the intention of receiving sexual gratification or to annoy or offend someone else. Private parts refer to: genitals, buttocks, or female breasts.
Penalties (PC 647 (a)):
A violation of PC 647 (a) is a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine up to $1,000. If prosecutors decide add a PC 314 “Indecent Exposure” charge, then you will have to abide to the lifetime sex offender registration requirement.
Legal Defenses (PC 647 (a)):
Legal defenses to lewd conduct include (but are not limited to): You were not in a public place or in a place open to public view, you reasonable believed no one was present who would be offended by your actions, you did not touch the private parts for sexual gratification, and/or you did not actually touch your private parts or someone else’s.
1. The legal definition of “lewd or dissolute conduct in public”
You violate California Penal Code 647(a) when:
- you engage in… or you solicit anyone to engage in…
- lewd or dissolute conduct…
- in any public place or in any place open to the public or exposed to public view.
To establish this, the prosecutor must prove five facts (called “elements of the crime”):
- you willfully engaged in the touching of your own or another person’s genitals, buttocks, or a female breast;
- you did so with the intent sexually to arouse or gratify yourself or another person, or to annoy or offend another person;
- at the time the you did so, you were in a public place or a place open to the public or to public view;
- someone else who might have been offended was present; and
- you knew or reasonably should have known that another person who might have been offended by your conduct was present.