Is It Illegal to Have Sex In Public?

photo of a police officer, showing their back and the "police" spelled out on the back of their vest.The truth is – sex in public is risky business. Despite the risk of someone catching you ”in the act” it happens all the time. Perhaps it’s the very thrill of discovery or maybe it’s the passion in the moment. But whatever the reason, adventurous paramours seem to want to take their lovemaking outdoors and take a chance on being arrested.

In California and in most states if you are caught having sex in a public place you could find yourself in handcuffs and escorted to the local jail. If you are facing sex in public charges, it is best to seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately. Call our office and schedule an in-person confidential interview and learn what options are available to you and how we can help you fight your charges.

California Law

If you are caught having sex in a public place you could face criminal charges in Los Angeles. However, sex in public is not a crime in California unless someone saw you or was likely to see you and was offended by the conduct. Having sex in public generally encompasses two California laws: Indecent Exposure and committing “Lewd Conduct in Public.”

  • Indecent Exposure (Penal Code section 314) is the crime of willfully exposing one’s private parts in any public place or any place where there are other persons present for the purpose of sexual gratification (himself or another person) or to offend or annoy another person. The law does not require that the victim actually see the exposed private parts. A first-time offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. Subsequent convictions are charged as felonies punishable by a maximum of three years’ imprisonment. People convicted of Indecent Exposure are required to register as a sex offender.
  • Lewd Conduct In Public [Penal Code section 647(a)] is the crime of engaging in lewd or dissolute conduct (obscene or indecent) in a public place with another person. A public place refers to an area that is accessible or open to the general public, including but not limited to parks, beaches, shopping malls, parked car, public street, theater, public library, school, supermarket, beach, parking lot, and a private booth in an adult bookstore. In order to obtain a conviction for lewd conduct the prosecutor must prove the following four elements: a) the touching of your private parts or someone else’s private parts; b) that you did so for purposes of sexual gratification for you or someone else; c) that you did so in public view; and d) that you knew or should have reasonably known there were people present. This crime is charged as a misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in county jail. No sex registration is required for this charge. It is important to know that sexual activity, in and of itself, even in a public place, is not a crime unless you knew or reasonably could have foreseen that someone might see you engaging in sexual activity or lewd conduct.

Is It Illegal To Have Sex In A Car?

The answer to that question is yes and no. Whether it’s illegal or not depends on the facts and circumstances of your case. In Los Angeles, you can have sex anywhere you like but not in a public place or any place the public has access to. This includes any area open to the public, such as parks, beaches, lakes, city streets and parking lots. Because the purpose of the law is to protect any onlookers who could potentially be offended by the obscene or indecent conduct, any place in which there could be such onlookers is generally considered to be a public setting.

So if you have sex in your car at home and in your garage with no windows, then it’s legal. However, if you have sex in your car while in your garage and with the garage door open you run the risk that someone (maybe a police officer or a neighbor) could see you, and therefore it’s illegal.

Los Angeles Sex Crimes Attorneys

If you or someone you know is being investigated or charged with lewd conduct in public or indecent exposure, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners before you speak to the police. Anything you say to the police will be used against you in a court of law. The criminal defense attorneys at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners have decades of experience defending individuals accused of sex crimes. The attorneys not only understand the prosecution techniques and strategies used in sex cases but also understand how to defend against these types of charges. Call us to schedule a no-cost consultation and learn how we can assist you in fighting your charges.

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