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New Jersey Lewdness

NJ lewdness lawyer

Lewdness - New Jersey Law 2C:14-4

Lewdness is offensive behavior, which you know, or reasonably should know, will be seen by another non-consenting person.

A common example of lewdness is the exposure of your private parts in public. 

Lewdness is generally charged as a Disorderly Persons offense (misdemeanor).

Under certain circumstances, lewdness may be charged as a 4th-degree indictable offense.

Lewdness charges arise in situations where you are intoxicated & your judgment is impaired. Unfortunately, it is a sex crime & the consequences can be devastating. In addition to facing incarceration, you will get a criminal conviction & must wait many years to clean your record.

As New Jersey criminal lawyers, we have successfully represented countless clients charged with lewdness in nearby counties & cities.

When is lewdness a felony charge?

Lewdness is a 4th-degree felony under two circumstances:

1) You expose your intimate body parts:
  • For the purpose of arousing or gratifying …
  • The sexual desire of yourself or another person …
  • When you knew or reasonably expected to know that your act would be seen by a child of fewer than 13 years old …
  • And you were at least four years older than the child.
2) You expose your intimate body parts:
  • For the purpose of arousing or gratifying …
  • The sexual desire of yourself or another person …
  • When you knew or reasonably expected to know that your act would be seen by a person who because of mental disease or defect is unable to understand the sexual nature of your act.

When is lewdness a misdemeanor charge?

Lewdness is a misdemeanor when:

  • You do a flagrantly lewd and offensive act …
  • Which you know or reasonably expect …
  • Is likely to be observed by another non-consenting person …
  • Who would be affronted or alarmed by your act

Lewdness Examples

Some example of lewdness are:

  • Having sex on a beach where people could be expected to see you
  • Urinating in public
  • Having sex in your car where somebody might see you.
  • Mooning (exposing your buttocks) to a crowd of people.
  • Sitting on a park bench with your genitals exposed.
  • Masturbating in your car, while parked in an area where other people might see you.
  • Having sex in a room where children or a mentally disabled person might wander in.

Important:

Lewdness cases are fact sensitive. This means that the prosecutor must prove that you had the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of yourself or another person. They must also prove that you had to know or should have known that somebody might see you.

In many lewdness cases, people are embarrassed that the police caught them with their pants down. As a result, people argue with the police and get arrested for resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, and criminal mischief.

Which NJ court handles Lewdness cases?

If your lewdness charge is a disorderly persons offense, then it will be heard at the local Municipal Court. Don’t take these court cases lightly. If you plead guilty or are found guilty of a lewdness charge, it will affect your employment. These convictions will show up on a background check & you may have trouble finding and/or maintaining employment.

If you are charged with lewdness as a fourth-degree felony, then it will be heard at the county Superior Court.

For instance, if you were caught having sex in the bathroom of a bar, it would likely be a misdemeanor charge. On the other hand, if you were caught having sex in a public park, it would likely be a felony charge because children play in public parks and it is reasonable to think they might see you.

Is Lewdness a big deal?

Judges and prosecutors take this offense seriously.

Whether you are in Municipal or Superior Court, the Judge wants the community to be safe from “sexual deviants”.

Prosecutors have the same incentive. They are very tough on people charged with lewdness. Lewdness victims are traumatized by what they saw. If a child witnesses an act of lewdness, you could face a felony endangering the welfare of a child charge. If you have a family of your own, DYFS will investigate you.

Lewdness penalties

For a misdemeanor charge, the penalties for a conviction are:

  • Up to six months in jail.
  • Up to $1,000 in fines.
  • Court costs of $33
  • Additional assessments of around $125.

 

For a fourth-degree felony charge, the penalties for a conviction are:

  • Up to 18 months in state prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Additional assessments of around $200

 

In addition, you will get a criminal record. The record may be expunged after a period of time. However, until and unless you expunge the record, the conviction will remain on your record.

Will I be required to register as a sex offender?

A lewdness conviction usually will not subject you to registration under Megan’s law. However, if charged with lewdness, you may also have been charged with other crimes which do make you subject to Megan’s law. 

lewdness & Immigration Consequences

Any crime that is considered a crime of moral turpitude will have serious consequences for a non-citizen. Lewdness is usually considered such a crime. If charged with lewdness, and your immigration status is an issue, you should meet with us.

Will a lewdness conviction hurt me?

Many employers have a very poor opinion of anyone convicted of a sex crime, and many other people consider lewd behavior to be despicable. Therefore, even if your conviction is a misdemeanor, it can hurt you.

fighting lewdness charges

If you’ve been charged with a lewdness ,you will have the following options:

Plead Guilty

You will have to admit what you did under oath. This option will leave you with a criminal conviction and it will show up a background check.

Plead Guilty to a Downgraded Charge

This is one aspect of plea bargaining. Instead of admitting that you committed lewdness, we will work out a deal with the prosecutor where you plea guilty to a lesser offense.

Go To Trial & Get Acquitted

This means that a judge or jury listened to all of the evidence & decided that you are not guilty of committing lewdness

Go To Trial & Get Convicted

This means that the judge listened to all of the evidence & decided that you did commit lewdness.

Defenses & Strategies

We use a number of strategies to fight the charge. Before devising a strategy, we need to have a complete understanding of the facts of the case. We need to know all the evidence that the prosecutor and police have against you.

If the state cannot prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, the charge may be dismissed.

Another favorable result may be a downgrade to a lesser offense such as a municipal ordinance. A municipal ordinance is the lowest offense in New Jersey. It is not a crime. Therefore, it would be not a criminal conviction on your record nor would jail time be imposed.  

NJ Lewdness Law

  1. 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 persons who would be affronted or alarmed.
  2. A person commits a crime of the fourth degree if;
  3. 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 13 years of age where the actor is at least four years older than the child.
  4. 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.
  5. As used in this section, “lewd acts” shall include the exposing of the genitals for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the actor or of any other person. 

If I'm convicted at trial, can I appeal?

Yes.

Although appeals can be expensive, it’s definitely worth the money to try.
If you feel that you didn’t get a fair trial or that certain evidence was irrelevant or missing, an appeal is a way to go.
We highly recommend that you hire an aggressive, criminal lawyer to represent you for your appeal.
There are specific steps that must be taken to (intelligently) file an appeal.
Please do not try to do this alone, get help!

Our Experience

You or a loved one have been arrested. Understandably, you are terrified & have a lot of questions. You’ve heard about plea bargains & probation, but the process is overwhelming. You want a local attorney near you to represent you.

Mr. Peyrouton is from Ridgewood & handles all types of criminal matters in New Jersey The New Jersey Law Journal recently published one of his articles on the subject of criminal law.

How We Can Help

Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, we are here to defend & protect you. Whether you are facing a restraining order, drug charge, theft charge, or aggravated assault charge, we are here to help you. Even a DWI case can really complicate your life.

If we can’t get your charges dismissed, we can either get them downgraded or place you in a diversionary program. The point is, our criminal defense lawyers will fight tirelessly to get you the best result possible. Take advantage of our free consultation to see how we can help.

Our Practice Areas

Below, you will find a few of our practice areas.

Areas We Serve

Our Hackensack criminal lawyers represent clients in Bergen County & nearby counties & cities. 

Get Help With Your Case

How Do Your Free Consultations Work?

There are plenty of excellent Hackensack criminal lawyers in our area. Most, if not all of them, offer free, 20-minute, consultations. However, our free consultations do not have a time limit. You will never feel rushed.

The best way for us to help you is to patiently listen to your side of the story. Your version of events will serve as the basis for your legal defense. It is during these initial meetings that your memory of the event is fresh in your mind. Why we would rush you during such an important aspect of your case.

We understand that your choice of attorney could mean the difference between your freedom and spending years behind bars. 

When you hire an attorney, you are entering a long-term relationship. For this reason, it is important that you feel comfortable with the team of Hackensack criminal lawyers that will represent you.

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