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Public Lewdness: You Have More Than Your Reputation To Worry About

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Public lewdness is a step up from indecent exposure in that it involves lewd, immoral, or indecent behavior of a sexual nature in public. In order to be considered a “public place” the act must be conducted in an area that is open or visible to the general public. As such, an act that take place inside a home or automobile may be charged as public lewdness if it is done in a manner that makes it easily observed by other people.

Qualifying Acts

In order to be considered public lewdness, acts do not have to involve sexual intercourse or even nudity. Simply simulating sex or fondling another’s anus or genitalia are enough to be considered acts of public lewdness. Simulating or performing oral sex also qualifies.

Punishments for Public Lewdness

According to the Texas Penal Code, the crime of public lewdness is considered to be a Class A misdemeanor, which can be punished by:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Fine of up to $4,000
  • Probation
  • Community service

In addition, some individuals who are charged with public lewdness may be required to register as a sex offender for a period of time, which is normally 10 years.

Public Lewdness with a Child

The penalties for public lewdness increase whenever the act in question involves a child under the age of 17. In this instance, the incident can be charged as indecency with a child, which is punishable as a second-degree felony. The sanctions for a second-degree felony can include:

  • Between two and twenty years in prison
  • Fine of up to $10,000
  • Lifetime sex offender registry

Factors that Influence Punishment

When sentencing defendants on public lewdness charges, judges consider the totality of the circumstances. A few things that can affect how harsh a sentence is are:

  • Age – youth are often considered to be less responsible, and are sometimes given a lighter sentence as a result
  • Intent – if an actor did not have an intent to expose himself in a sexual act, this could call for leniency in handing down a sentence
  • Knowledge – those who unknowingly exposed themselves in a sexual act could have an affirmative defense against charges of public lewdness
  • Involuntary intoxication – individuals generally cannot be responsible for acts they committed while involuntarily impaired through the use of drugs or alcohol
  • Duress – those who have been forced or threatened also have an affirmative defense against public lewdness charges

No matter what the circumstances are, charges of public lewdness can bring a negative social stigma that can persist for years after a court trial. Individuals should carefully weigh their actions in order to avoid facing charges that could affect them for years to come.

If you have been charged with public lewdness charges, then you have more than your reputation to worry about. You could be going away to jail for a long time. However, you can reduce or eliminate your charges by speaking to an experienced sex crimes attorney. Call Brett A. Podolsky today at 713.227.0087.

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