Under N.J.S.A. 2C:14-4, the State of New Jersey punishes persons who commit “Lewd Acts”. Specifically, the statute reads that a person “commits a disorderly persons offense if he does any flagrantly lewd and offensive act which he knows or reasonably expects is likely to be observed by other non-consenting person who would be affronted or alarmed.” As defined by the statute, a lewd act includes any act of “exposing of the genitals for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the actor or of any other person.” This act is more common than you might think and can include a multitude of activities beyond merely “exposing” one’s self in public. For instance, having sex in a public place can turn into a lewdness charge if it is seen by another person. In a rare instance a client was charged with lewdness while changing out of their wetsuit while on the beach and in view of other beach patrons and children.
Disorderly Persons Offense Lewdness in Pemberton, NJ
Lewdness is most commonly charged as a disorderly persons offense. This means that you will generally be released after you receive a summons complaint. You will have to appear before the Municipal Court judge at a future date. A disorderly persons offense for lewdness carries up to six (6) months in jail along with a nominal fine. Rarely will a judge sentence a first time offender to jail for a disorderly persons offense. However, for young adults and gainfully employed adults, a criminal conviction alone may be enough to throw your world into disarray.
Lewdness charges can also be elevated to a fourth degree indictable offense if certain circumstances are present. Specifically, a person commits a fourth degree offense, if he exposes his intimate parts for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the actor or of any other person under circumstances where the actor knows or reasonably expects he is likely to be observed by a child who is less than thirteen (13) years of age where the actor is at least four years older than the child. A person also commits a fourth degree offense if he exposes his intimate parts for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the actor or of any other person under circumstances where the actor knows or reasonably expects he is likely to be observed by a person who because of mental disease or defect is unable to understand the sexual nature of the actor’s conduct. By intimate parts, the statute really means the reproductive organs of either a male or female, although, most typically speaking, the offense usually arises from the exposure of male genitalia.
I Was Charged With Lewdness But I Didn’t Know Anyone Was Around?
Often times, clients will raise the defense that they “didn’t think anyone was around.” Good news, in certain instances, this may be an actual defense. While lewdness can technically occur on both private or public property, the State must prove that it was your intent that your act be seen or that you were aware that it was probable that your act would be seen by casual observers if they had looked. Your act must be done knowingly. This means that if these charges are based on an accident, and we can demonstrate this to a judge/jury, we may be able to mount a successful defense to your lewdness charges.
What are the Penalties for Lewdness in Florence, NJ?
If you are charged and convicted of a fourth degree offense for lewdness, you will be facing a period of incarceration in the Burlington County Jail for up to eighteen (18) months and a fine of up to $10,000.00. Alternatively, a conviction for a disorderly persons lewdness offense exposes you to up to six (6) months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.00.
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