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Lewd Acts in Public Laws (PC 647(a)) in California

California Penal Code 647(a): Lewd Acts in Public

Legal Definition: An individual who solicits anyone to engage in or who engages in lewd or dissolute conduct in any public place or in any place open to the public or exposed to public view.For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 647(a) the prosecution must prove the following:

  1. You willfully engaged in the touching of your own/another person’s genitals, buttocks, or female breast;
  2. You did so with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify yourself or another person, or to annoy or offend another person;
  3. At the time you engaged in the conduct, you were in a public place/a place open to the public/public view
  4. At the time you engaged in the conduct, someone else who might have been offended was present; AND
  5. You knew or reasonably should have known that another person who might have been offended by your conduct was present.

As indicated above, you can also be found guilty under this section if you solicit lewd behavior in public from another person. In other words, you requested a person to show you their genitals/buttocks/female breasts in public.

What does this mean?

A public place is a place that is open and accessible to anyone who wishes to go there. So for example, committing a lewd act at your home would NOT be considered a public place under this code section. It is also important to note the language used that the action “might have” offended a person. This is important because it is not a requirement under this section that your lewd act actually offend another person. The law is relatively clear, that if there is a chance that it
“may” offend someone, that is sufficient for a conviction. Whether the person who witnesses the lewd act was actually offended, is not relevant.Lewd under this section means to be crude and offensive in a sexual way/manner. Dissolute means conduct that is lacking in morals or disregarding public and social norms. However, this section does not apply to a theater or show, where the show is done in public as the purpose there is to conduct a show, not to intentionally offend another person.


Lewd Act in Public is a misdemeanor-only violation in California. If you are convicted, you could be sentenced to County Jail for up to 180 days. You would be required to serve 50% of that time.

You generally will not have to register as a Sex Offender if you were to be convicted under this section, however, if it were to be determined that your lewd conduct in public was motivated by a desire to sexually gratify yourself, then it is possible to be forced to register as Sex Offender under this section. (PC 290.006)


  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Intoxication
  4. Violation of your Rights
  5. False Accusations
  6. Coerced Confessions

The intent is a big factor involved in these types of cases because some people get confused by the title of this code section and think even accidental lewd acts are punishable under this section. A common example could be simply being in public and having your pants rip, or having a friend pull a prank and pull down your pants, because you did not intend to have that happen, and clearly did not intend to offend anybody, then you could not possibly be convicted under this section.

Another common issue is a person who is drunk in public and passed out. For whatever reason, maybe their pants are down and their genitals are exposed. Generally, that would not be sufficient under this section because your intoxication is a defense to your drunken state. It would also be hard for a Prosecutor to prove that you intended to have your pants down in such a way while being so incredibly drunk.

Call Today

Our seasoned attorney, well-versed in all areas of Sex Crimes, including PC 647(a), can skillfully defend against these cases. It’s crucial to comprehend the significance of this information: based on the specific circumstances of your case, a Sex Offender registration lasting up to 10 years could be compelled upon you. Moreover, a Lewd Act in Public charge on your background check will undoubtedly undermine your potential employment opportunities, as it indicates intentional exposure or solicitation of public indecency. A conviction under this section is an outcome you cannot afford. Rest assured, countless cases have been successfully handled by our specialized PC 647(a) Ontario attorney. We provide a complimentary initial consultation and our team is available around the clock to address any concerns you may have. Reach out to the Inland Empire Criminal Defense today at 909-939-7126. Conveniently located in Ontario, CA. Trust the experts.

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Yes, understanding the financial pressures that can come with legal representation, our attorney offers flexible payment plans. This approach ensures that quality legal defense is accessible for all our clients in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

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Yes, Inland Empire Criminal Defense offers free consultations. This is part of our commitment to providing accessible and transparent legal services to residents of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

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Our office is typically closed on weekends. However, we do make exceptions for meetings by special arrangement. Our commitment is to be as accommodating as possible to meet the unique needs of our clients in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

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Our legal services are specifically tailored to residents of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties. For cases outside these areas, we recommend consulting to find appropriate legal assistance. Our focused approach allows us to provide specialized defense catering to the unique legal landscape of these counties.

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