Getting arrested for lewd conduct is not just a potentially humiliating moment in someone's life. If found guilty, you get a misdemeanor on your record, along with potential jail time, probation and/or fines. (And if you're also hit with a simultaneous indecent exposure charge, keep in mind that being found guilty of indecent exposure could require registering as a sex offender.)
But what does lewd conduct mean?
Broadly speaking, it involves touching your own or another person's private parts in a public place, for some kind of sexual or offensive purpose.
There are many ways we could start to pick apart this definition of lewd conduct. In this post, let's focus specifically on what law-enforcement officials might mean by a "public place."
What does a public place mean?
Law-enforcement officials and prosecutors can interpret "public place" to mean a wide variety of locations.
For example, you could be inside your car - which technically isn't a public place - but if you're parked in public view, you're vulnerable to a lewd conduct charge if you engage in sexual touching. (One recent high-profile case involved the arrest of an actress from the movie "Django Unchained" and her boyfriend for lewd conduct, after witnesses called in a report that they were engaged in apparent sexual activity in their car.)
A hotel hallway could count as a public place too, but you might think that in the privacy of your hotel room, you're safe. Although this is generally true, you might still get charged with lewd conduct if your blinds are open, permitting a public view into your room. What constitutes a "public view" could be subject to argument and would depend on a number of factors, including whether your hotel room is on a lower floor and facing a populated public place.
Prosecutors would also have to prove that someone in the public area would have found your activity offensive. As someone charged with lewd conduct, you can make a case that you didn't realize that you exposed yourself publicly or that you were in view of people who could become offended by your actions.
Given the potential gray areas with this charge, it's critical that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to present a strong case on your behalf. If you live in the Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Wildomar, Perris, Banning, Corona, Hemet or Riverside areas, know that we can take on your case and dedicate ourselves to your fair treatment in court.