What is Public Lewdness?
While most of us would not consider exposing ourselves in public or acting lewdly on purpose, it is certainly possible to suffer from an alcohol-induced lapse in judgment. Maybe an area you thought was private turned out to be anything but, and now you find yourself on the wrong side of a criminal charge. If you have been charged with public lewdness, it is imperative you know your options and receive expert legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney to help guide you through the process.
What is Considered Public Lewdness?
Public lewdness, as defined under N.J.S.A 2C: 14-4, is any flagrantly lewd or offensive act that one knows or reasonably expects is likely to be observed by other non-consenting individuals who would be affronted or alarmed. Some common instances that lead to a public lewdness charge include:
- Drinking too much and then urinating in public
- Touching sexual organs in public
- Exposing oneself in public
- Sexual acts or touching in areas like the beach, in the park, in a car or in a public bathroom
It is important to note that even if you are on private property or land, like a private beach, it does not mean you are safe from committing public lewdness. Whether you are on private or public property, what matters is whether you could reasonably expect that your conduct might be seen by other people.
Penalties for Public Lewdness
Most instances of public lewdness are considered disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey. This comes with the following penalties:
- Up to 6 months in the county jail
- Up to $1000 in fines
- Associated Court fees and costs
However, if your act of lewdness was witnessed by a child under 13 years of age or a person with a mental disease or disability that prevents them from understanding the nature of the offender’s conduct, then the act will be upgraded to a fourth degree offense. This carries the following harsher penalties:
- Up to 18 months in prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Associated Court costs and fees
If a motor vehicle was involved, such as performing sexual acts in a car, you may have your license suspended for up to 2 years. Also note that lewdness can be considered a type of domestic violence depending on the circumstances.
Need Help With a Charge of Public Lewdness?
If you or someone you know is facing a public lewdness charge, the attorneys at Schneider Freiberger are here to help. We can help you present a case designed to increase your chances of your charge being downgraded to a municipal ordinance violation or even dismissed. Contact Schneider Freiberger today to discuss your case.