New Jersey Lawyer for Lewdness Charges – NJSA 2C:14-4
Former NJ Prosecutor Helping Clients Fight Lewdness Charges While Protecting Their Reputation
Any criminal charge is stressful. Lewdness charges, though, carry the added burden of potentially destroying your reputation. Classified as a sex crime, a lewdness conviction on your criminal record can create long-term problems. The New Jersey court system zealously prosecutes these offenses, too. It’s their way of showing they are taking a stand against perversion in the community. That eagerness for punishment can create devastating consequences for those who make a split-second error in judgment.
If you or a loved one are facing lewdness charges in New Jersey, you need the help of an experienced criminal attorney to fight the charges. Make sure you understand the law, what the charges could mean for you, and why you need to fight it. When you are ready, you can schedule a free consultation with a New Jersey lawyer to talk about the potential next steps to take in your case.
Understanding Lewdness Charges in NJ
Under NJSA 2c:14-4, lewdness is defined as exposing genitalia in an area where a non-consenting adult is likely to observe the behavior and be “affronted or alarmed” by it. These charges are typically classed as a disorderly persons offense. Under certain circumstances, though, the act may warrant escalation. This includes cases where the lewd act occurred in front of a person under the age of 13 or in front of a person with mental disease or defect.
To prove the charge of lewdness, the prosecutor will need to prove that:
- The genitals were exposed
- A nonconsenting person saw the act
- The nonconsenting person was affronted or alarmed by the act
Unfortunately, an officer can charge you with lewdness for a seemingly minor occurrence. Being exposed in public, even with a willing partner, could result in you appearing in court. But it’s up to the prosecution to prove that the circumstances of your case fulfill the requirements of being a lewd act.
Circumstances That Can Result in a Lewdness Charge
- Urinating in public
- Performing a sexual act in a car
- Touching another person’s genitals in public
- Sexual acts on the beach
Keep in mind that charges can result even if you were on private land, providing that a nonconsenting person could reasonably see you.
Many of these circumstances occur when someone makes a bad split-second decision. An otherwise upstanding citizen might make a poor choice while on a date, during a night out, or after having drinks with a few friends. The consequences of that decision can last a long time if you don’t fight the charges.
Penalties for Lewdness in New Jersey
The penalties for lewdness will depend on whether it’s classed as a disorderly persons offense, a third-degree offense, or a fourth-degree offense. Penalties for the crime can include:
- Fines up to $1000
- $50 fee to Victims of Crime Compensation Office
- $75 fee to Safe Neighborhood Assessment
- Up to six months in jail for disorderly persons charge
- Up to 18 months jail time for fourth-degree lewdness
A judge may also require counseling, probation, or the suspension of a driver’s license. Additionally, repeat offenders may need to register as a sex offender.
Why You Need to Fight Lewdness Charges As Strongly as Possible
Many people charged with the crime will be eager to settle with a prosecutor as quickly as possible. They want to get past the incident and move on with their life. Unfortunately, though, pleading guilty to a lewdness charge can create devastating consequences long after an appearance in court. Having a lewdness charge on your record can create a lot of issues for you in the future.
Potential employers may perform a background check and see those charges on your record. Some housing rentals will also question a charge like that on your record. You may even be barred from certain employment and housing. Every time someone checks your criminal record, you’ll need to explain the circumstances again. It’s years of embarrassment for a momentary mistake.
But it’s possible to build a strong defense against lewdness charges. An experienced criminal attorney can help you build the defense and work with you to get the best possible outcome. That may be a reduction in the charges to a simple violation order or even getting the charges dismissed altogether. That way there is nothing on your record that will cause concern for any employer or housing association in the future and you can move on with your life.
If you fail to fight the charges, you’ll have to wait five years before you can attempt to expunge them from your record.
Potential Defenses Against Lewdness Charges
The most common defense against lewdness charges is that there was a reasonable expectation of privacy in the area where the act occurred. Many lewdness cases rely on witness testimony, too. These witnesses may be unreliable or be unsure about what they actually saw. Even if you can challenge witness testimony, it’s not easy to build a defense against lewdness charges.
It’s best to consult with a legal team experienced with lewdness cases. They’ll be able to go over the circumstances with you and identify the weak points of the prosecution’s case. From there, they can begin to build your defense. The ultimate goal should be to ensure you don’t end up with this charge on your criminal record.
Get Help From an Experienced Criminal Attorney in New Jersey
Are you or a loved one facing lewdness charges in New Jersey? Don’t face unnecessary consequences of a momentary mistake. Get a free case evaluation with The Law Office of Anthony J. Vecchio today. Our experienced New Jersey legal team will review your case and give you options about how to move forward. This isn’t a charge you want to fight alone. Led by a former New Jersey prosecutor, our team is here to stand by your side. Contact us now to schedule your consultation.