Arrested For Exposing Yourself in Public?
Individuals are charged with lewdness and indecent exposure much more often than you might think. Whether it was an innocent mistake, an intentional act for sexual gratification, or just a compulsion you cannot seem to control, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-4 makes it a violation of the criminal code if the conduct is likely to be observed by the public. The severity of the offense escalates when the potential viewer is 13 years old or younger. If you were arrested by the State Police or local police in a Union County municipality like Linden, Elizabeth, Clark, Union or Kenilworth, an attorney is available to assist you immediately at 908-272-1700. The lawyers at our firm include several former prosecutors and a team with thousands of lewdness cases under their belts. We have the knowledge and experience you need to avoid a conviction for lewd conduct.
Basics Of The New Jersey Lewdness Law
N.J.S.A. 2C:14-4 creates the offense known as “lewdness”. This statute defines lewd acts to include a variety of misconduct including public masturbation, exposing intimate parts (e.g. penis) in public, or engaging in intercourse, oral sex or other sexual act where it is likely to be viewed by others. When this charge is triggered, it can be filed as a felony fourth degree crime or as a misdemeanor disorderly persons offense. It is a fourth degree crime under 2C:14-4 to expose intimate body parts for purposes of arousal or sexual gratification under circumstances where it is reasonable to assume that the conduct will be observed by someone under 13 years old or someone who suffers from a mental disability which renders them unable to appreciate the sexual nature of the conduct. Fourth degree lewdness charges are heard and decided in Elizabeth at the Superior Court. This is the court that has jurisdiction to hear 4th degree crimes whether they arise in Cranford, Westfield, Rahway or anywhere else in county. A disorderly persons offense of lewdness occurs when someone engages in a flagrantly lewd or offense act under circumstances where they should reasonably assume they shall be observed and alarming to a third party. If the charge is filed as a disorderly persons offense, the case is heard in the Union County Municipal Court of the town where the violation was allegedly committed. Regardless of whether your charge is a fourth degree crime or a disorderly persons offense, obtaining strong legal representation is crucial since a conviction for a lewd act not only carries significant penalties on its own but will result in a 2C record that may imply to some that you are a sexual deviant.
Penalties for Disorderly Persons Offense and Fourth Degree Crime of Lewdness
Beyond the record that follows from a conviction for committing a lewd act, there are statutory penalties that must be imposed by a Superior Court or Municipal Court judge. Fourth degree lewdness carries a prison sentence of up to eighteen (18) months and a fine that can reach $10,000.00. Conviction for the less severe charge of disorderly persons lewdness results in a fine of $1,000 and a maximum jail term of six (6) months in the county jail. Megan’s law does not apply to even a fourth degree lewd act conviction under 2C:14-4.
Union County NJ Lewdness Defense Attorneys
Lewdness charges tend to be viewed as reprehensible by members of the community and, unfortunately, these feelings are sometimes echoed by prosecutors and judges. They tend to be significantly more risky cases than other fourth degree and disorderly persons offenses. For this reason, it is particularly important to obtain strong legal representation if you have been accused of engaging in a lewd act. We certainly can serve this purpose as criminal attorneys with over 100 years of combined experience. Call us for a free initial consultation at 908-272-1700 to learn how we can help you.