Houman Fakhimi

Orange County Sex Sting can Lead to Public Humiliation

It was bad enough that the nearly 20 men had been arrested on charges of lewd conduct in public in Los Angeles in connection with a public bathroom sex sting.

But then, their names, dates of birth and photographs were made public by the police department, prompting them to be published by various print news organizations.

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Houman Fakhimi believes this amounts to nothing more than sheer humiliation for the cruel sake of it - and he's not alone.

Now, gay rights activists in Orange County and Los Angeles say that such action was unnecessary and not only amounts to humiliation, but could lead to far more severe consequences. In a poignant example, one of the men involved reportedly attempted to commit suicide after his identity was made public.

Our Orange County prostitution solicitation attorneys understand that public information laws allow these details to be provided to the public. However, the entire community could benefit if the police department - and media - used a little more discretion in broadcasting this information. That same discretion can often be used by an experienced attorney to keep such charges off a defendant's permanent criminal record.

We understand the issue has spawned a passionate debate in newsrooms across the state. Some of the editors argue that making this arrest data public will serve as a deterrent to others to refrain from engaging in sexual acts in a public place. Those on the other side, however, said that this struck a painfully familiar chord involving the public shaming of lesbians and gays in past decades.

In agreeing with the latter, we would point out to those with the former argument that an arrest does not equal a conviction. That these men were arrested does not automatically mean they are guilty of anything. Therefore, to publish this information at such an early stage in the process - without regard for the impact it could have on a person's personal relationships or employment - is just wrong. This is particularly true when we are talking about a victimless crime.

In this case, the men involved ranged in age from 20 to 59 years-old. They were reportedly arrested for soliciting sex in a public restroom at a local park.

Under California Penal Code 647(a), lewd or dissolute conduct in public is considered a misdemeanor. Often, these cases involve some form of entrapment. For example, an officer may try to bait you into performing some sexual act, and then arrest you. A lot of these cases result from stings like this. Others have been known to be held in bathrooms at the Beverly Hills Center and the Glendale Galleria, as well as Davis Park in Valencia and Roeding Park in Fresno.

What most people may not realize in these cases is that committing a sexual act in a public place in and of itself isn't necessarily a crime - unless there is or you have reason to believe that there may be someone there who would be offended by your actions.

This can be grounds for a solid defense if you reasonably believe that no one would see you or take offense.

Contact Houman Fakhimi defense attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are charged with a crime in Orange County. Protecting your rights and setting up an aggressive defense at the beginning stages is critical in defending against criminal charges.