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Indecent Exposure

Facing Indecent Exposure Charges? Speak with a New Jersey Indecent Exposure Lawyer to Find Out What Defenses You Can Assert in Court

The crime of indecent exposure is a sex offense that carries fines and possible prison time in New Jersey. If you have been charged with indecent exposure, you need to understand the consequences and the potential defenses you have available, and this means speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, we represent individuals charged with indecent exposure and other sex offenses throughout New Jersey. We can fight to keep you from getting convicted; or, if necessary, to minimize the consequences of your arrest.

New Jersey’s Indecent Exposure Law

In New Jersey, indecent exposure is considered a form of lewdness. The lewdness statute (N.J.S.A. Section 2C:14-4) states:

  1.     A person commits a crime of the fourth degree if:

      (1)  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. 

    (2)  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. 

As a result, there are two ways a person can face conviction for indecent exposure in New Jersey: (i) exposing himself or herself to a child under the age of 13, or (ii) by exposing himself or herself to a person with a mental disability.

Under New Jersey’s lewdness statute, both forms of indecent exposure are fourth-degree offenses. This means that they carry the possibility of 18 months of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. Section 2C:14-14 also establishes the offense of lewd conduct, which is a disorderly persons offense punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. This offense involves committing, “any flagrantly lewd and offensive act which he knows or reasonably expects is likely to be observed by other nonconsenting persons who would be affronted or alarmed,” with a lewd act being defined as, “exposing of the genitals for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the actor or of any other person.”

Another term that is commonly used to describe these offenses is “public indecency.” Unlike many other states, New Jersey does have a crime of public indecency that is separate from the crimes of lewdness and indecent exposure. New Jersey also does not have a state statute that prohibits urination in public. However, many cities have adopted ordinances that prohibit public urination, and violating one of these ordinances can lead to penalties in addition to those imposed for indecent exposure under New Jersey state law.

What You Need to Know if You Have Been Charged with Indecent Exposure

When facing indecent exposure charges, there are some important facts to keep in mind. For example:

  •         New Jersey’s indecent exposure law does not distinguish between public and private locations. In other words, you do not have to commit the act in public in order to face conviction.
  •         The law only applies if a person exposes himself or herself, “for the purpose of arousing or gratifying . . . sexual desire.” It also only applies where the actor “reasonably expects” to be observed by a child or a person with a mental disability.

If a person exposes himself or herself without the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire and without a reasonable expectation that a child or a person with a mental disability is present, he or she can be charged with lewd conduct. Lewd conduct is classified as a disorderly persons offense.

Other Crimes and Disorderly Persons Offenses Related to Indecency

In addition to the crimes of indecent exposure and lewdness, the New Jersey Statutes establish various other crimes that can broadly be classified under the “indecency” umbrella as well. If you have been charged with any of the following offenses, you should consult with a New Jersey indecent exposure lawyer to find out what defenses you have available:

Obscenity

Under New Jersey law, it is illegal to sell or display obscene material—unless the sale or display is authorized by local ordinance. Section 2C:34-2 of the New Jersey Statutes defines obscene material as any media that:

  • “Depicts or describes in a patently offensive way, ultimate sexual acts, normal or perverted, actual or simulated, masturbation, excretory functions, or lewd exhibition of the genitals,
  • “Lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value, when taken as a whole, and
  • “Is a part of a work, which to the average person applying contemporary community standards, has a dominant theme taken as a whole, which appeals to the prurient interest.”

Loitering for the Purpose of Engaging in Prostitution

Loitering in a public place for the purpose of engaging in prostitution is a disorderly persons offense under Section 2C:34-1.1 of the New Jersey Statutes. For purposes of this offense, loitering is defined as wandering, remaining or prowling a public place with the purpose of engaging in or promoting prosecution and, “engag[ing] in conduct that, under the circumstances, manifests a purpose to engage in prostitution or promoting prostitution.”

Diseased Person Committing Act of Sexual Penetration

Another form of indecent behavior that is prohibited under New Jersey law is engaging in sexual penetration while suffering from a sexually-transmittable disease (STD) without the other person’s informed consent. Under Section 2C:34-5 of the New Jersey Statutes, offenses involving HIV are prosecutable as third degree indictable crimes, while offenses involving all other STDs are fourth degree indictable crimes.

Contact Us about Your Indecent Exposure Case

For more information about defending yourself against indecent exposure charges in New Jersey, contact the law offices of Helmer, Conley & Kasselman. To speak with a New Jersey indecent exposure attorney in confidence, call 1-877-435-6371 or request an appointment online now.

 

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