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Sexual Assault, Megan's Law, and Other Sex Crimes: Lewd Conduct

In New Jersey, lewd conduct (or “lewdness”) can be charged as either a disorderly persons offense or a fourth-degree crime. A disorderly persons offense is roughly comparable to a misdemeanor in other states, while a fourth-degree crime is the equivalent of a lower-level felony. Both types of offenses carry the possibility of steep fines and jail time, and anyone charged with lewd conduct in New Jersey should seek experienced legal representation.

What Constitutes “Lewd Conduct” in New Jersey?

Section 2C:14-4 of the New Jersey Statutes defines three separate forms of lewd conduct:

  • It is a disorderly persons offense to commit, “any flagrantly lewd and offensive act which [the actor] knows or reasonably expects is likely to be observed by other nonconsenting persons who would be affronted or alarmed.”
  • It is a fourth-degree crime for a person to expose his or her intimate parts, “for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the actor or of any other person [if] 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.”
  • It is a fourth-degree crime for a person to expose his or her intimate parts, “for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the actor or of any other person [if] 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.”

The fourth-degree lewdness offenses are also commonly referred to as indecent exposure.

What are the Penalties for Lewd Conduct?

The penalties you are facing depend on whether you have been charged with a disorderly persons offense or a fourth-degree crime. A disorderly persons offense carries the potential for a six-month jail sentence and a $1,000 fine. A fourth-degree lewdness conviction can result in up to an 18-month prison sentence and $10,000 in fines.

What are Some Potential Defenses to Lewd Conduct Charges?

All three offenses outlined in New Jersey’s lewdness statute require that the actor “know[] or reasonably expect[]” that he or she is being observed by someone else. If you thought you were in private, this may provide a defense to culpability. There are a variety of other potential defenses as well, and when you contact us about your case we will provide a comprehensive assessment of the defenses you may have available.

Does a Disorderly Persons Offense Go on Your Criminal Record?

Yes. While technically not a “crime,” a disorderly persons offense will still go on your criminal record. This means that it will show up in background checks conducted by law enforcement and potential employers, and it may also prevent you from obtaining (or maintaining) a professional license or securing your desired immigration status. A lewdness conviction can have a variety of other practical and long-term consequences as well.

Speak with a Defense Lawyer at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman

For more information about your situation, contact the criminal defense lawyers at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman. Our firm has multiple offices locations throughout New Jersey, and our attorneys handle lewd conduct cases statewide. To request a confidential case assessment, call 1-877-435-6371 or contact our firm online now.

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