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

New Jersey’s beaches are frequently 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.

At Monmouth County’s Gunnison Beach, it is not uncommon for nudity to lead to illegal sexual activity or exposure among its visitors. Rangers and law enforcement are frequently on the lookout for indecent exposure, lewd conduct and illicit sexual activity on Gunnison Beach. Their efforts are often aggressive, and may lead to someone facing serious criminal charges for behavior that should have been allowed on the beach. With such a fine line existing between nudity and public lewdness, how can you be safest when visiting Sandy Hook’s nude beach?

Lewd conduct and indecent exposure laws 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.

Lewd act meaning

Under New Jersey public indecency laws, 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 and sexual exposure

Public lewdness charges relating to Gunnison Beach are heard before the federal district court in Newark, New Jersey. For those convicted, the penalties for lewd conduct and sex in public charges 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.

Defenses for Sandy Hook public indecency charges

Lewdness and indecent exposure can have a lasting impact on your record and your everyday life. But just because you are accused of a crime does not mean you were in the wrong. There are several defenses to these claims for Gunnison Beach visitors, two common ones being:

  • No sexual act was committed. What a ranger may have seen to be public masturbation may have been something much more benign. In their efforts to capture offenders, many times mistakes are made and behavior is misinterpreted. A criminal defense attorney can help get these charges dismissed.
  • No expectation the act would have been observed by another. Perhaps you were attempting to be discrete, and you had no reason to believe anybody would observe your actions or conduct. Public indecency and lewd conduct charges typically require you to know or expect that a nonconsenting party is observing you.

If you believe you were mistakenly charged or have a valid defense against the accusations against you, it is best to run your case past an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your options. You may be able to reduce your penalties or eliminate the charges entirely.

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.