If you have been charged with lewd conduct in Los Angeles, you need to defend yourself—hard. California’s lewd conduct laws make it possible to convict you even if you engaged in non-graphic, consensual sexual touches of any kind.
Many people are also convicted after being wrongly arrested with no sexual intent, or entrapped by law enforcement. Don’t let an incident like this derail your life. You need to talk to a lewd conduct defense lawyer in Los Angeles from the Simmrin Law Group.
What Counts As Lewd Conduct in California?
Under California Penal Code Section 647(a), lewd conduct can mean any of the following:
- Touching your own private parts in a public place,
- Touching the private parts of another in a public place, or
- Asking or encouraging someone else to touch your private parts (or if you can touch theirs) in a public place AND
- The touching or request is for the purposes of sexual gratification or to offend someone else.
Like prostitution, this is one of the California laws that applies to two different parties: the person officially committing the violation (the touching) and the person requesting it. This is known as “soliciting lewd conduct.”
Many lewd conduct cases involve some sort of sex act in a public place, but there are many other instances where actions are misconstrued into lewd conduct.
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What Counts As “Touching Private Parts” in a Lewd Conduct Charge?
Touch alone isn’t enough for a lewd conduct charge. Certain parts of the body must be touched. The “private parts” mentioned in the law can mean:
- The penis,
- The vagina,
- The buttocks, or
- The female breasts
This makes it much easier to be convicted of lewd conduct than it is for other, more serious charges, such indecent exposure. In fact, no one’s genitals have to be exposed for a “lewd conduct” charge. Even lewd touching through clothing can count. A lewd conduct defense attorney in Los Angeles can review your case details to determine the optimal defense strategy.
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What Must the Prosecution Prove in a Lewd Conduct Case?
The prosecution must prove certain things to convict you of the crime of lewd conduct. There are five things that must be present for the charge to stick:
- You touched someone in a private area
- You did it to annoy or for sexual gratification
- It happened in a public place or some place open to public view
- When it happened, someone was present that could have been offended by the act.
- You should have reasonably known that the offended person could be offended.
The last three parts are what really define lewd conduct from other sex crimes. The touch can be consensual between two people, but if someone discovers it, gets offended, and reports it, that opens you and your partner to lewd conduct charges.
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What Are the Penalties for Lewd Conduct in Los Angeles?
Lewd conduct is a misdemeanor under Los Angeles laws. If you are convicted of this crime, the penalties include:
- Up to six months in jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
In some cases, a judge may grant you no jail time as long as you complete your probation successfully. Judges do not always offer this, and having a good lawyer on your side can improve your chances of walking away with no jail time.
You may also be required to be tested for HIV, to go to counseling or to stay away from the place where the incident happened. If the lewd actions involve a child under 14, the penalties are much worse. A Los Angeles lewd conduct defense attorney can help you understand your options.
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If I’m Convicted of Lewd Conduct in California, Do I Become a Convicted Sex Offender?
No, you are not required to register as a sex offender in California for a lewd conduct conviction. However, the conviction will be on your public criminal record for anyone who runs a background check to see. Also, the courts have the option of requiring registration, depending on the circumstances.
Additionally, many employers, colleges, universities and other application processes require you to disclose any criminal convictions you’ve had. This means that a lewd conduct charge can be highly visible. It could affect your career or life, even though you are not a convicted sex offender.
No matter the circumstances, a conviction for lewd conduct is hard to explain to others. This is why it’s so important to avoid conviction in the first place, and to have a good lawyer defend you.
What if the Prosecutor Is Threatening Me With an Indecent Exposure Charge?
Indecent exposure is a much more serious charge that requires you to register as a sex offender. Often, prosecutors or the police will threaten you with this. They use this as a way to pressure you to plead guilty.
They’re hoping to get an easy conviction on lewd conduct just because you’re scared of the indecent exposure charge. In most cases, if the prosecutor had enough evidence to pursue indecent exposure, they would charge you with that from the start.
The reality is that, if you are charged with lewd conduct, you probably never exposed your privates or your actions don’t meet the legal definition of indecent exposure. That does not mean you should rest easy. You need to fight hard to avoid any conviction by speaking to a lewd conduct defense lawyer in L.A.
What Defenses Can I Use Against a Lewd Conduct Charge?
The defense depends on what happened. Some of the strongest defenses include:
- You didn’t do what you were accused of doing: It’s up to the prosecution to prove what happened. If they can’t prove it, you cannot be convicted.
- The touching was not sexual: Whatever happened, if you weren’t doing it for sexual gratification or to offend people, it’s not illegal.
- The touching was not public: It’s possible to make a case that you were not in public view or did not know anyone was observing.
- Entrapment: Entrapment is a very powerful defense used when police set up a “sting” or undercover operation and arrested you. The law allows them to set up the encounter, but not to pressure or lead you into breaking the law. Undercover officers are often too zealous in getting arrests and will cross the line into entrapment, meaning your arrest was illegal and you cannot be convicted.
No single defense is right for every case. You need to talk to a lewd conduct defense lawyer in Los Angeles to build the right defense for your situation.
What Is an Example of Entrapment?
An undercover vice officer might wait in a public bathroom, park, or beach, all common places for lewd conduct charges. They could bait someone into a sex act that could qualify as lewd conduct or indecent exposure.
Naturally, the officer doesn’t want this to happen. So, if it does, they can serve as the offended party. This turns the case into your word against the officer’s word. Police have also been known to exaggerate what happened to secure convictions.
A lewd conduct defense lawyer is absolutely essential if you believe that you’ve been a victim of entrapment. You would not have committed the lewd act if you weren’t encouraged by the officer. Entrapment is against the law.
Talk to a Los Angeles Lewd Conduct Defense Lawyer for Free
The Simmrin Law Group’s Los Angeles lewd conduct defense lawyers can help you. We have the experience and knowledge necessary to help you successfully fight a lewd conduct charge. We have devoted our law firm to one goal: helping those who are accused, and helping you move forward with your life.
That’s why we offer a FREE, no obligation consultation. This is your chance to get professional legal advice, learn how strong the case against you is, and plan your defense. Fill out the form to the right or call us to get your free consultation today.