Know the Law to Avoid Charges at the Sandy Hook Gunnison Nude Beach

With summer in full swing, New Jersey's beaches are bustling - including the state's one and only officially sanctioned nude beach. Outside Sandy Hook's Gunnison Beach, where clothing is optional, signs alert unwary visitors: "Beyond this point you may encounter nude sunbathers." With its flexible clothing policy and dramatic views of New York City, Gunnison Beach attracts thousands of visitors each weekend during the busy summer months.

Lewd conduct and indecent exposure in New Jersey

For most of those who dare to bare all at Gunnison Beach, the negative consequences typically involve nothing more serious than a full-body sunburn. But, in a number of cases each year, the decision to let it all hang out at Sandy Hook results in criminal charges for public lewdness - a criminal offense with potentially life-changing consequences.

Under New Jersey law, a person can be charged with public lewdness for performing "lewd acts" under circumstances in which other non-consenting people are reasonably likely to observe and be alarmed or affronted. As defined by state law, a lewd act can include "exposing of the genitals for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the actor or any other person."

Penalties for public lewdness

Public lewdness charges relating to Gunnison Beach are heard before the federal district court in Newark, New Jersey. For those who are convicted, the penalties for lewd conduct can be harsh, including steep fines and imprisonment. The severity of the consequences depends in part on the circumstances of the offense.

Lewd conduct is considered a disorderly persons offense under New Jersey law if it is reasonably likely to be witnessed by a non-consenting adult. A person who is convicted of this type of public lewdness offense in New Jersey can be fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to as much as six months in jail.

The penalties become even more severe when a person is convicted of performing lewd acts in a place where he or she is reasonably likely to be observed by a child or a mentally handicapped individual. As defined by New Jersey law, this includes:

  • A child under the age of 13 who is at least four years younger than the defendant.
  • A person of any age who is unable to understand the sexual nature of the defendant's actions because of a mental disease or defect.

In these situations, conviction of a public lewdness offense in New Jersey can carry fines of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to 18 months.

Speak to a lawyer if charged

People charged with lewdness or indecent exposure while visiting Gunnison Beach in the Sandy Hook recreation area of New Jersey should speak with an attorney at their earliest opportunity. A skilled attorney with experience defending against charges of public lewdness in New Jersey can talk with clients about the specific circumstances of their case and work with them to pursue the best possible resolution to the charges.