Sting operations are commonly used by police officers to arrest individuals for the Penal Code 647(A): lewd conduct in public offense. Police in the Los Angeles area have recently been cracking down on alleged lewd activity in public areas in the recent months.
In early April, 18 men were arrested as part of an undercover sting operation conducted by the Manhattan Beach Police Department in a public restroom at the beach. The men were charged with offenses including indecent exposure, Penal Code 647(A) lewd conduct in public, and soliciting lewd and lascivious acts in a public place.
Police use “lewd conduct” undercover sting operations to arrest men in bathrooms, public parks, gymnasiums, and alleys. Police often use the justification that these stings are response to “citizen complaints.” However, this is usually a veiled excuse for complaints from homophobic people who do not like gay men hanging around a certain area.
During these sting operations, an undercover officer dressed in plain clothes will start “cruising.” This means initiating eye contact, fondling his genitals outside of his pants, and repeatedly circling the same location. These decoy officers are trying to bait individuals into flashing their genitals, solicit sexual favors, or agreeing to perform sexual acts. Then they will arrest those individuals.
Police in the Los Angeles Area have recently ramped up undercover sting operation arrests in adult bookstores in and around Hollywood, West Hollywood, North Hollywood and Van Nuys. These adult bookstores often contain closed booths where individuals can view pornographic films. Because of the private nature of these booths, decoy officers often lure men into these booths. They then make arrests based merely on the response of these men to their invitations.
Baseless arrests like these are becoming more and more common. These types of arrests frequently constitute entrapment. It is important to consult an experienced California criminal defense attorney to see what legal defenses may apply to your particular case.