Police Continue to Entrap Gay Men for Lewd Conduct

Posted by Neil Shouse | Aug 10, 2009 | 0 Comments

Police throughout California continue to arrest unsuspecting gay men as part of lewd conduct sting operations. In spite of protests and recent court victories, cops have shown few signs of slowing down.

Penal Code 647(a) “Lewd Conduct in Public” makes it illegal to engage in public sexual activity when you know or should know of the presence of other people who would take offense. The last part of that definition is critical. California law does not make it inherently illegal to do sexual acts in public. It only becomes a crime if third parties are there whom you have reason to believe would be offended.

In the sting operations, undercover “decoy” cops pretend to be gay men “cruising” in bathrooms, parks and other public places. They try to coax unsuspecting gay men into masturbating, dropping their pants, or doing or proposing some sexual act. Then they arrest the “suspects” for violating Penal Code 647(a).

Typically, the only people present are the gay “suspects” and the decoy cops pretending to be gay men looking for a hookup. Because the suspects have no reason to believe that their sexual activity, if any, would offend bystanders, they simply are not guilty of lewd conduct in public. Thus many of the lewd conduct in California cases get dismissed in court or defeated at jury trial.

But the larger issue is why police and prosecutors expend so much systemic resources trying to punish gays for, at most, hooking up in discreet public locations. The answer, we're afraid, is that institutionalized homophobia still infects police and prosecuting agencies, even in relatively progressive places like Los Angeles and Long Beach.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Free attorney consultations...

Our attorneys want to hear your side of the story. Contact us 24/7 to schedule a FREE consultation with a criminal defense lawyer. We may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed altogether. And if necessary, we will champion your case all the way to trial.

Regain peace of mind...

Our defense attorneys understand that being accused of a crime is one of the most difficult times of your life. Rely on us to zealously and discreetly protect your rights and to fight for the most favorable resolution possible.

Office Locations

Shouse Law Group has multiple locations all across California and Nevada. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

To contact us, please select your state:

Call us 24/7 (855) 396-0370