Posted by Gurjit Srai In Criminal Defense December 15, 2023 0 Comment

California law does not define lewd conduct as one specific type of offense – rather it involves all types of sexual acts and activity in a public space. The sexual acts that can be charged as lewd conduct under the law can greatly vary, including receiving or giving oral sex in public, exposure of genitals, and public masturbation. Law enforcement targets public bathrooms and beaches. In most cases, the undercover law enforcement agency is the only person in these areas with the individual being charged.

However, it is important to note that just because you are charged with lewd conduct, it does not mean you will be automatically convicted. You can avoid conviction with the help of an experienced Fresno criminal law defense attorney.

Lewd Conduct Is Only Charged as a Misdemeanor

Under California law, lewd conduct can only be charged as a misdemeanor. This means that you could only face a maximum jail sentence of one year. In some instances, the prosecution may ask the judge to order the person charged to document as a sex offender, in which case it will forever be on your record.

Two Types of Lewd Conduct

There are two types of lewd conduct: engaging in lewd conduct and soliciting another person to engage in lewd conduct. The prosecutor must prove different elements for each:

  • Engaging in lewd conduct (California Penal Code Section 314 PC):
    • You willfully engaged in that act
    • You were in a public place
    • You were touch yours or another person’s genitals, buttocks, or female breast wit the intent to sexually arose or gratify yourself or the other person or for the purpose was to annoy or offend another person
    • There was another person in the public place who could be offended by the conduct
    • You knew or should have known that someone might be offended by your act
  • Soliciting lewd conduct (California Penal Code Section 647(A) PC):
    • You requested another person who was in the public space to engage in the touching of genitals, the buttocks, or breast of a woman
    • You wanted to sexually gratify yourself or someone else
    • The other person who was present might have been offended by the conduct

Defenses to Lewd Conduct Charges

Depending on the specific facts surrounding your arrest, your Fresno criminal defense attorney may be able to use various defenses to avoid a conviction. Some defenses include:

  • Investing the accusation to attempt to show that the alleged acts did not in fact happen at all
  • Proving that the state is overcharging you
  • The area is not considered a public space
  • You did not actually touch anyone’s private parts, and even if you did it was not for the intent of sexual gratification

Call an Experienced Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a felony, it is in your best interest to immediately consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you learn about your legal rights and options.

For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with Fresno criminal defense attorney Gurjit Srai, please call (209) 323-5558 or complete our online form.