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Lewd acts are defined and penalized as disorderly conduct and a misdemeanor under section 647 of the California Penal Code.

What specific acts are penalized as lewd acts?

  1. Engaging in lewd or dissolute conduct in public places or places exposed to public view
  2. Soliciting or agreeing to engage in and engaging in acts of prostitution for compensation or value
  3. Soliciting or agreeing to engage or engaging in acts of prostitution with a person who is 18 years old or older in exchange for compensation, money or anything of value.
  4. Soliciting, agreeing to engage in or engaging in acts of prostitution with a minor in exchange for compensation, money or anything of value.
  5. Accosting other persons to beg or solicit alms in a public place or a place open to public view.
  6. Loitering in a public toilet to engage in or solicit lewd or lascivious act
  7. Lodging in a public or private building, structure, vehicle or place without the consent or permission of the owner or person entitled to possess or control it
  8. Loitering in a public place while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, drug or controlled substance while being unable to care for his or her own safety and the safety of others.
  9. Loitering in a public place while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, drug or controlled substance and interfering with, obstructing or preventing the free use of a street, sidewalk or other public way.
  10. Loiters, prowls or wanders on the private property of another without visible or lawful business with the owner or occupant.
  11. Peeking into the door or window of any inhabited building or structure while loitering, prowling or wandering on the private property of another without visible or lawful business with the owner or occupant.
  12. With intent to invade the privacy of persons, looking through a hole or opening or peering into any instrument such as a periscope, telescope, binoculars, camera, motion picture camera or mobile phone into a bedroom, bathroom, changing room, fitting room, dressing room, tanning room or any other area where an occupant has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
  13. With the intent to arouse, appeal to or gratify lust or sexual desires, invade the privacy of another person by using a concealed camera of any type to secretly films, photographs or records another person who is identifiable, and for the purpose of viewing the body, undergarments of that person without consent or knowledge of that person filmed.
  14. While knowing that it would cause emotional distress, distributing images of an intimate body part of an identifiable person or an image of a person while he or she is engaged in an act of sexual intercourse, sodomy, oral copulation, sexual penetration, or masturbation when the persons so filmed or recorded knew that the image would remain private.
  15. Distributing an image described in #14 or causing another to distribute such image.

What other lewd acts are punishable?

  1. Under Section 647.6, annoying or molesting a child under 18.
  2. When the victim of any of the lewd act is a child under 18 and the perpetrator was motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in children and the perpetrator engages in lewd acts, it is also a punishable act.

What does ‘loiter’ mean?

It means to delay or linger in a place without any lawful purpose, or to delay or linger in a place to commit a crime as opportunity arises.

What is an ‘intimate body part’?

The term “intimate body part” includes the genitals or any portion of the genitals, the anus, the female breasts, the areola whether uncovered or clearly visible through clothing.

What are not viable defenses to a charge of lewd acts?

Under Section 647 (j)(3)(B), it is not a viable defense to assert that the defendant is an inhabitant or cohabitant, landlord, tenant, cotenant, employer, employee, business partner, associate or agent of the victim (the person who was recorded or whose privacy was invaded).

It is also not a viable defense to state that the victim was not fully undressed or that the victim was only partially undressed when photos or videos were recorded of him or her.

In the crime of distributing lewd images, what are viable defenses?

It is a viable defense to assert that the lewd images were made in the course of reporting an unlawful activity (such as when surveillance footages are taken.

It is also a viable defense to assert that the lewd images were distributed to comply with a subpoena or other court order for use in legal proceedings.

It is a viable defense to assert that the distribution was made in the course of lawful public proceedings.

What kinds of penalties can be expected for lewd acts?

  1. The court may suspend the defendant’s driver’s license for at least 30 days to six months if the lewd act was committed with the use of a motor vehicle.
  2. The court may impose a fine of $2,000
  3. The court may impose a penalty of imprisonment not to exceed a year
  4. The court may impose both a fine and imprisonment
  5. If the offense was committed involving the intravenous use of a controlled substance, an additional fine of $70 will be imposed.
  6. If the lewd act was committed and the victim was a minor, the fine is at least $10,000

What if a minor commits the lewd acts enumerated above?

Under Section 647 (5), the child who engages in these acts to receive money would be considered a commercially exploited child. That child will be adjudged a dependent child of the court.

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