The legal system in California has taken serious steps to protect the well-being of children in the state. California Penal Code Section 273(g): Lewdness or Drunkenness in the Presence of a Child is one law created to offer protection to minors.
PC 273(g) distinguishes the kinds of behavior that are permissible around children in Los Angeles and throughout California. Under this legal code, some actions that you would otherwise be able to engage in are forbidden if you are caring for a minor.
Lewdness or drunkenness in the presence of a child is a criminal act that comes with harsh legal penalties. However, there are some controversies surrounding PC 273(g). The Simmrin Law Group can help you understand the intricacies of this law and possible defenses to PC 273(g) charges.
Defining PC 273(g): Lewdness or Drunkenness in the Presence of a Child
The charge of lewdness or drunkenness in the presence of a child may cover a wide variety of actions, including acts that are:
PC 273(g) may also be used to prosecute individuals who are habitually drunk around children. In order to face a charge under PC 273(g), an individual must have custody of a child or be responsible for the care of a minor.
Controversy and Defenses Against PC 273(g)
PC 273(g) can punish individuals who are “habitually drunk” around minors. This vague statement has been successfully argued as unfair in front of the California Court of Appeals. However, the law was never amended to address this problem, leaving a degree of uncertainty regarding the application of PC 273(g).
A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer may be able to use this ambiguous language to defend clients charged with lewdness or drunkenness in the presence of a child. Some cases may even be dismissed due to this vague and uncertain language.
In addition to questioning the constitutionality of the language in Penal Code 273(g), your lawyer may be able to successfully argue that you did not have care or custody of the child.
Since one of the conditions of California PC Section 273(g) is that you have care or custody of a child, any lewd behavior that you engaged in would not constitute a violation if you were not caring for the child in question.
Your lawyer might also be able to fight the allegations that your behavior was lewd. Ultimately the judge or jury will determine if your actions qualified as degrading, lewd, immoral, or vicious.
Penalties for Lewdness or Drunkenness in the Presence of a Child
Individuals in Los Angeles may be charged with a misdemeanor for violating PC 273(g). The penalties for a conviction for drunkenness or lewdness in the presence of a child can include:
- Fines up to $1,000
- Jail time up to six months
- Summary probation
Furthermore, the court can notify the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services after a PC 273(g) conviction. This department could remove children from the custody of their parents in certain circumstances.
Examples of Penal Code 273(g) Violations
Here are a few examples to help better illustrate what qualifies as a violation of PC 273(g).
A babysitter has her boyfriend over while looking after a child. The two proceed to engage in sexual intercourse with the child in the room. The babysitter would be guilty of violating Penal Code Section 273(g).
However, if the child had gone to sleep in the other room and then woke up and walked in on the babysitter having sex, the sitter would be able to argue that she was unaware of the presence of the child.
A parent sells drugs out of their home. People are constantly coming and going, and the child routinely witnesses the exchange of drugs for money. This would be considered a violation under California PC 273(g). Additionally, the parent would face other charges related to the illegal sale of drugs.
A single father is caring for his small children. He has just been fired from work and decides to drink his troubles away. He passes out drunk while making dinner, and the kids are left unsupervised with food burning on the stove. The father could be charged under Penal Code 273(g) as well as facing charges for child endangerment.
Charges Similar to PC 273(g)
PC 273(g) is only one of the many legal codes California uses to punish drunkenness and those who endanger children. Depending on the exact circumstances, individuals could also be charged with:
- Public intoxication under California Penal Code Section647(f)
- Driving under the influence under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a)
- Driving under 21 with a blood alcohol content between 0.05-0.07 percent under California Vehicle Code Section 23140
- Contributing to the delinquency of a minor under California Penal Code Section 272
- Child endangerment under California Penal Code Section 273(a)
- Child abuse under California Penal Code Section 273(d)
- Public intoxication under California Penal Code Section 647(f)
- Annoying or molesting a child under California Penal Code Section 647.6
Any of these charges can lead to serious legal consequences. Many times, a conviction will lead to fines and time spent in jail or prison. In some cases, an individual could even be forced to join California’s sex offender registry after a conviction.
Getting professional help right away will improve your odds of beating any criminal charge in the Los Angeles area. Learn more about your legal options before it’s too late.
Defending Against a PC 273(g) Charges
Individuals charged under California Penal Code Section 273(g): Lewdness or Drunkenness in the Presence of a Child often find themselves quickly overwhelmed by the legal system. The vague wording of this charge can make it difficult to know what to do next.
Fortunately, the Simmrin Law Group can provide you with the professional legal advice you need. You can reach out to us by giving us a call or completing our online contact form. Make sure you’re ready to handle accusations of lewdness or drunkenness in the presence of a child by contacting us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.