Although most of us would never dream of exposing ourselves in public or intentionally acting lewdly, some of us have alcohol-induced lapses in judgment. Others may find themselves on the wrong side of a criminal charge simply because they thought they were in private when they really were not. As such, most criminal charges for indecent exposure and lewdness spring forth from regrettable mistakes made during a night of drinking or couples having relations in locations that the law does not allow them to. Before acting hastily, make sure to familiarize yourself with New Jersey’s indecent exposure laws and to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.
What is Indecent Exposure and Lewdness?
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:14-4, it is unlawful for a person to commit any flagrantly lewd and offensive act that one knows or reasonably expects is likely to be observed by other non-consenting individuals who would be affronted and alarmed. When most of us think of indecent exposure, we conjure up images of a guy or girl who boisterously and intentionally exposes himself or herself in broad daylight. However, this is rarely the case.
In reality, this law is used much more frequently than we would think and applies to circumstances that we would never have imagined. For instance, misconceptions about private beaches and parks have led couples to be charged with this crime. Since they believe the location is private, they think they are not violating the law. However, in truth, the law does not use the terms “public” or “private.” Instead, NJ law only requires one to “reasonably expect” that your conduct would be observed. The key here is “reasonably.” Remember, you might have thought that no one would see you, but the standard is what an objective individual in your situation would have considered reasonable.
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What is the Penalty For Indecent Exposure in NJ?
If you are convicted of violating N.J.S.A. 2C:14-4, you could be guilty of a disorderly persons offense. This means you could go to jail for up to 30 days and be forced to pay a fine of up to $1,000. However, if your lewd act was observed by a child under the age of 13 or an individual suffering from a mental disability or deficiency that prevents him from understanding the nature of your conduct, then you could be convicted of a fourth degree crime.
A fourth degree crime could put you in prison for up to 18 months and require you to pay a fine of up to $10,000. Moreover, if a motor vehicle was involved in the crime, you could have your license suspended for up to 2 years. Lastly, if you hold public office, a conviction for this offense could result in the forfeiture of your position.
In most municipalities, you will not be able to get this offense dismissed outright unless you can present a good case for why it would not have been reasonably expected that people would observe your conduct. However, many prosecutors will allow you to plea down to a lesser offense. In this case, pleading down to a violation of a mere municipal ordinance will save you from having a criminal record and almost always lets you escape a prison sentence. Make sure to hire an experienced NJ criminal defense attorney to help you with your indecent exposure and lewdness charges.
Who Should You Contact?
If you or a loved one was recently charged with indecent exposure or lewdness in NJ, contact Adam H. Rosenblum of The Rosenblum Law Firm today. Mr. Rosenblum is a skilled criminal defense attorney who has helped people in similar situations. He will defend your constitutional rights and do what he can to have your indecent exposure or lewdness charges dismissed. E-mail or call him today at 888-815-3649.