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Public Sex Laws - California Penal Code PC 647a

Posted by Raoul Severo | Sep 09, 2020 | 0 Comments

Daredevils, adrenaline junkies, or attention-seekers: these are the terms society labels upon individuals who are “young, wild, and free”. There are many types of individuals who fall under this umbrella, one of which are people who engage in public sex. It may be childish in an outsider's perspective, but they are only living life to the fullest -- or at least in their belief. What's important to take note is that it is not illegal to be yourself, find happiness, or to be brave and bold. What is illegal, however, is to step on other people's constitutional rights for the sake of your satisfaction.

With that said, the state of California has imposed Penal Code PC 647a. The statute explicitly states that a person should not take part in any lewd act or sexual misconduct in places that are easily accessible by other members of the community. Now, this definition is quite vague. To truly discern its purpose, let us discuss significant terms one by one.

First, there is a standard set by the state to distinguish public places where you are not allowed to make out, from areas where you have every right to do whatever you want. Examples of public areas are:

  • Streets, roadways, tunnels, rail tracks, pedestrians, bridges, and path walks;
  • Restaurants, hotel lobby, clubs, school classrooms, inhabited establishments, shopping centers, and other public buildings; and
  • Sports venues, parks, open landmarks, and other places that are not enclosed. 

If you are caught having sex in any of the aforementioned places, then you may be prosecuted under for lewd conduct in public. Even places such as your front yard, apartment hallway, or vehicle parked on a public street can be covered under this penal code since they are all open to public view. Yes, your front yard may be your private property, but you're exposing your neighbors -- or worse, your neighbor's children -- to your deed. This may annoy or offend them, which brings us to our next point.

The act of making love is not illegal in itself. It is something that partners should be able to enjoy responsibly. However, what is frowned upon by the law is when the sexual deed is done solely to annoy or offend another person. In this case, that is called lewd conduct. If you have sex with your partner knowing very well that your next-door-neighbors have young kids that may see you at any moment, then their parents may charge you under PC 647a. However, if you have sex with your significant other in an area where you reasonably believe that there is no one around (i.e.: an abandoned building in the middle of nowhere), then you may use that as a defense when a police officer or another concerned citizen files a lawsuit against you. Meanwhile, a person cannot sue you for lewd conduct if you have sex inside your home. For example, a neighbor and his son walk past your bedroom window and briefly glances at it. Your windows are closed and your curtains are down, but there was a small crack between the curtains where they can easily see the interior of your bedroom. They, unfortunately, saw you having sex with your partner. Your neighbor sues you for lewd conduct as he was deeply offended by your action since his son saw it as well. But since you are inside your private home and you reasonably believe that no one should be able to see you have sex, you cannot be convicted. Ultimately, a person is only deemed guilty under PC 647a when he/she acts for the purpose of sexual satisfaction despite being in a public place where another person may not be pleased with the act. 

Punishments for Violating California PC 647a

A person who is convicted for infringing PC 647a is guilty of a misdemeanor where the penalties are as follows:

  • Six months in county jail
  • A fine of $1,000

Lewd conduct cases often come together with indecent exposure, where a person willfully exposes his/her genitals in order to arouse or annoy another individual. This is punishable under California Penal Code PC 314. Furthermore, if you committed a lewd act in a place where you are not authorized to be, then you may face trespassing charges pursuant to PC 602

Legal Assistance from California Defense Attorneys

There are instances where people accuse you of doing lewd acts out of spite or lack of knowledge about the law. In which case, contact your local legal agency and book for a defense lawyer. They will be able to give you a deeper insight regarding your case and help you clear your reputation. 

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