What is a Lewdness Charge in New Jersey?

A very frequent and aggressively prosecuted charge in New Jersey is something known as lewdness. While this charge is considered in most cases to be a disorderly person offense, it is not something that you should ignore if you have been summoned to court or given a ticket. One of the biggest factors that contribute to people not to contact an attorney is their fear that they will be subject to public disclosure. However, because this crime can impact your life and potentially your career it is essential that you contact an experienced Atlantic City criminal defense attorney immediately.

After 40 years of representing New Jersey residents in all criminal matters, the Law Offices of John J. Zarych have gained a reputation for their rigorous and aggressive advocacy. We have the knowledge and the experience to help you if you are facing a lewdness charge.

What are the Elements of a Lewdness Charge?

In New Jersey lewdness is defined under, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-4. A person can be charged and convicted of lewdness if he or she commits any flagrantly lewd and offensive act which he or she knows or reasonably expects is likely to be observed by other non-consenting persons who would be affronted and alarmed.

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In order for the state to properly convict an individual of lewdness they will need to prove all of the following three elements:

  • A flagrantly lewd and offensive act must be committed. – An example would be if a person exposed their genitals or were touching himself or herself inappropriately in a public environment.
  • The lewd act was witnessed by a non‑consenting individual
  • The non‑consenting individual was alarmed or affronted by the lewd act.

There are a variety of situations that can lead to a lewdness charge. Surprisingly, one of the most common situations that lead to a lewdness charge is when a person has had a bit too much to drink when they are on the beach and then urinate in public.  Some other common instances that lead to a lewdness charge include:

  • Sexual acts or touching in public bathroom
  • Touching of male or female sexual organs in public
  • Sexual acts or touching in a car
  • Sexual acts or touching in the parks or places of public access
  • Sexual acts or touching on the beach
  • Exposing oneself in public

One of the biggest misconceptions that lead to lewdness charges is when people think that they are on private land and property. However, if you are in an area where others may be able to see you readily, then you may be charged with lewdness.

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What is the Penalty for a Lewdness Charge?

New Jersey a lewdness offense is typically considered to be a disorderly person offense. However, there are certain instances when this disorderly person offense can be raised to a higher degree crime. The fines and penalties that a person may face if they are charged and subsequently convicted of lewdness can vary depending on the charge. However, a person who is convicted of a lewdness charge may face any of the following:

  • Fine range 0 to $1000 – this is largest ranges of fines that a person can be subject to for a disorderly person offense, however, this range is so broad because it also has to account for instances when a charge will be raised to a fourth degree or third-degree offense.
  • Victims of Crime Compensation Office Assessment $50 – a judge may order a person to pay an assessment or fee to the victims of crime compensation board. This program was designed to assist innocent victims of crimes who have been altered because of violent crimes.
  • Safe Neighborhood Assessment $75 – This is often the basis for why lewdness charges are prosecuted so vigorously. As communities make aggressive statements about trying to keep out perverts. However, it is often the case that a person was not, in fact, lewd, and is why working with an attorney is always advisable when you are facing a lewdness charge.

Notably, a lewdness charge can be raised from a disorderly person offense to a third-degree crime when a person knows or reasonably expects to be observed by a child under the age of thirteen. A lewd act will result in a Fourth Degree charge where the observer suffers from a mental disease or disability. In any of these instances, a judge has more discretion to impose more fines and penalties.

Charged with Lewdness? Contact an Atlantic City Defense Lawyer Today

If you, a loved one, or someone you know has been arrested or ticketed for exposing themselves, we are here to help you. We have the experience and the knowledge to work with you and develop a defense strategy to keep you from facing severe and often unnecessary consequences. Contact a criminal defense lawyer and schedule a free and confidential consultation at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych by calling (609) 616-4956 or contact our firm online.

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