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The Consequences of Lewd Conduct & Indecent Exposure

By Anthony N. Palumbo

Lewd conduct (sometimes referred to as indecent exposure) is broad criminal offense that can result from multiple acts and lead to several tiers of criminal penalties. Generally, touching another person’s private parts in public for the purpose of physical satisfaction is considered a lewd act, but one may be guilty of lewd conduct by touching themselves or even exposing themselves in public. In addition, anytime a child or mentally handicapped person is involved in the crime, the penalties are more severe. Depending on whether a person is charged with a crime or a disorderly persons offense, the penalties can include jail time, fines, probation, and counseling.

The Meaning of a Lewd Act

In order to understand what is required to be guilty of lewd conduct in New Jersey, it is important to understand the meaning of a lewd act under the law. In New Jersey, a lewd act is defined as ‘the exposing of the genitals for purposes of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the actor or of any other person.’ However, in order to be guilty of lewd conduct, a person must do more than commit a lewd act, he must commit a lewd act under certain circumstances. There are two general ways in which lewd conduct can be committed: (1) in front of an adult; and (2) in front of a child or mentally handicapped person. For a deeper understanding, consider the law below.

Lewd Conduct Conviction and Penalties

First, a person will be guilty of lewd conduct if he commits a flagrantly lewd and offensive act which is, at least, reasonably likely to be observed by a non-consenting person and cause the person to be affronted or alarmed. This manner of lewd conduct as a disorderly persons offense. A disorderly persons offense carries up to 6 months in jail and $1,000 in fines and is less severe than the second type of lewd conduct.

Second, a person will be charged with lewd conduct if he exposes his intimate parts in order to arouse himself or anyone else, in a place where he can, at least, reasonably expect to be observed by a child who is less than 13 years old, a child who is at least 4 years younger than the actor, or a person with a mental disease or defect who cannot understand the nature of the conduct. This kind of lewd conduct is a fourth degree crime that carries penalties of up to 18 months in prison and $10,000 in fines.

Defending Lewd Conduct Charges

The upside of lewd conduct is that it is an offense that may be expunged and it is not on the Megan’s law list. This means that even if a person is convicted, he may apply to have the crime expunged within the applicable time period and will not have to register under New Jersey’s sex offender registry. There are defenses against lewd conduct and ways in which charges can be reduced to disorderly persons offenses. My name is Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey sex crime defense lawyer and I have more than 35 years of experience defending lewd conduct charges. If you or a loved one would like to learn more about lewd conduct penalties and how they apply in your case, please feel free to contact me anytime for a Free Consultation at 908-643-6801 .