Lewd Conduct in Public - California Penal Code 647(a) PC
In defending lewd conduct charges over the past 25 years, I have noticed that the costs are too harsh for what happened in many cases. Sometimes being able to shed some light on the surrounding circumstances of the case and give the defendant's story to the prosecutor and judge can do wonders to change the complexion of the case and save the defendant from some of the harsh consequences that can flow from a lewd conduct charge.
Another critical issue is avoiding a lewd conduct-related conviction because of the stigma attached to this type of crime. The prosecutors will force the charged person to register as a sex offender in some circumstances.
Many factors go into the prosecutor and judge's decision-making process when deciding whether a person will have to register as a sex offender and go to jail or prison for this type of sex crime.
To defend against some of these harsh consequences a lewd conduct charge can bring, in addition to shedding light on the actual circumstances of the case, it can also be essential to make sure that the mitigating and positive side of your client's life is something that the judge and prosecutor take into account before they pass judgment on the client.
There are many effective ways that a defendant can show the prosecutor that they should be given the benefit of the doubt and not suffer irreversible consequences related to a lewd conduct charge. Sometimes character letters from the client's friends and family can go a long way towards humanizing the defendant and showing the judge and prosecutor that they are good citizens who have done a lot for the community and that the subject conduct is an aberration that does not occur again.
What Factors Determine a Defense Strategy?
To be convicted of a Penal Code 647(a) lewd conduct offense, the prosecutors must prove:
- You touched yourself or someone else's private area with the intent to arouse or sexually gratify yourself or the other person;
- The touching must be done out in public so that people can see, and you have to be aware that another person can see your actions.
As you can see from the information above, that paragraph is loaded will things that a person must do and know to be guilty of this crime. Over the past 25 years, I have fought each of the nuances in cases that I have handled related to lewd conduct prosecutions.
Not every area will apply in every case. In some cases, the conduct will be so blatant and the evidence so strong that there is no room to fight the issue, and we have to sit down with the prosecutor and judge and work out a fair resolution with minimal damage to the person's record.
There are several factors that prosecutors and judges evaluate in Los Angeles to determine whether there is a defense for a lewd conduct case or not. Some elements are based on the law, and some are found in pure common sense.
If the argument and defense make sense to the average reasonable person, the defendant will have a chance to litigate the matter and succeed. Whenever I evaluate these types of cases, I look at them from a jury's perspective and consider how they would view the evidence and the defendant's behavior in the context of all of the evidence the prosecutor will bring to the table and what the defense can counter with.
This type of experience (having done over 200 jury trials) is invaluable, and very few attorneys have this type of experience advertising on the Internet.
What are the Penalties?
The biggest thing on most people's minds in a lewd conduct prosecution is whether or not they will be forced to register as a sex offender. The prosecutors and judges look at whether the defendant has a prior criminal record and if any of that record involved anything related to a sex offense or not.
Making a decision based on someone's criminal record is a subjective evaluation, and there are no perfect answers when it comes to this. Of course, the prosecutor and judge will also look at the current conduct to determine whether the subject defendant is so dangerous as to be forced to register as a sex offender for the protection of the community at large.
Lewd conduct can have harsh penalties, depending on what was done and the person's prior criminal record. Our sex crime defense attorneys aim to minimize these penalties as best as possible or have the charges ultimately dismissed due to insufficient evidence or illegally obtained evidence.
Indecent exposure, child molestation, child pornography, and prostitution are lewd conduct. The prosecution must prove all the elements beyond a reasonable doubt to be convicted of improper conduct.
The elements of lewd conduct are: the person intentionally took part in the touching of their own or someone else's private areas; the person had the purpose to sexual gratify self or another; the person was in a public place; someone else was present at the time that may have been offended; the person knew or should have known that a person who may have been offended was present.
As your sex crime defense attorney, our duty to you as our client is to gather and contest all the evidence the prosecution is trying to bring in to prove each of these elements.
We are aggressive in what we do, and our priority is to get you, the client, the best results possible.
Suppose you are convicted of lewd conduct/lewd conduct with a minor. In that case, Penalties you may face are state imprisonment, fines of up to $10,000, and mandatory sex offender registration as required by California Penal Code Section 290.
Let us help avoid these penalties by putting our years of experience to work for you and your interests. Contact our L.A. sex crime defense attorneys and set up a free face-to-face consultation.
Negotiating for Lesser Charge or Case Dismissal
You will want to try to have your attorney work out a resolution to continue with your life and hopefully be successful and put the lewd conduct charge behind you. But punishment-wise, in Los Angeles, the prosecutors are tough to deal with when it comes to improper conduct if they can prove it easily.
Sometimes people have defenses, and I'm able to do a lot of times. If we can get a not-guilty verdict and go to trial and win, then obviously, we do that. However, if we can't do that and don't think that's the best move moving forward, you're probably going to lose because of their evidence.
Often, I can put together a mitigation package, and we can avoid jail time. Maybe we can get a different charge than lewd conduct and prevent you from registering as a sex offender.
The problem with sex crimes, particularly lewd conduct, is that most of them you have to register as a sex offender, and that's probably the worst punishment related to a sex crime in Los Angeles county.
Avoiding Sex Offender Registration in California
So, what we try to do if we're going to work out a deal in the case is to get some agreement that prevents you from having to register as a sex offender. In other words, we're trying to work out some sort of a charge like a battery — just a simple battery. How about an assault?
There's a list of different charges that can be utilized in place of a lewd conduct charge in Los Angeles. So, if we can convince the prosecutors to give you a break, they first have to decide that you shouldn't have to register as a sex offender before they're even going to consider giving you a break.
If they decide that, they will often come up with a different charge — something other than lewd conduct, and then we can try to avoid that sex registration. That's one of the most extensive punishments we want to avoid.
Of course, nobody wants to go to jail. Now, in 2020, you've got the Coronavirus to worry about, but any time you get any sex-related offense, especially lewd conduct, the sheriffs will see what you're charged with.
Then, often, they'll let the other inmates know that you're charged with a sex crime, which puts you in an actual wrong position, or they'll treat you differently and more harshly than other inmates.
So, you want to avoid going into custody, as well, and there are a lot of different factors that decide whether you should go into captivity related to some sex offense.
So, if you need help — you're being charged, or a loved one that you know is being charged with lewd conduct in Los Angeles, California — pick up the phone. Make the call. Ask to speak to Ron Hedding. I've handled hundreds of these types of cases all over LA county.
I've dealt with the prosecutors and the judges. I've worked for the DA's office for a while. I worked for a Superior Court judge for a time, and since 1994, I've handled this lewd conduct-type of charges. I know exactly what it takes to be successful.
July 2015 – Van Nuys Court – Successful Case Result
Van Nuys Superior Court – Client charged with Lewd Conduct – a violation of Penal Code Section 647 (b). At the initial court appearance, the prosecutors wanted my client to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, be on the Megan's Law website, and want him to do a term in jail. After I was able to show them all of the mitigating factors related to the facts and circumstances of the case and give them an idea of the type of person my client is, they offered him a resolution that avoided sex registration and no jail time. He pleaded to a charge that does not have a sexual aspect.
BURBANK SUPERIOR COURT – CLIENT AVOID SEX REGISTRATION FOR LIFE – client was charged with lewd conduct. The prosecutor demanded sex registration and jail time when we substituted in on the case. After a careful investigation and showing several discrepancies in the video evidence that the prosecutor had on the subject, I convinced them to permit the client to plea to both a registerable and a non-registerable offense. Ultimately after one year, the registerable violation was dismissed, and the client was able to avoid jail time as well, once we showed them all of the positive aspects of his life. Years of experience and knowing how to present the most favorable information and evidence the right way is the key to achieving the best possible results.