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Enacted as part of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice in 1978, and thereafter amended in 1992, the lewdness statute presently provides in full:
a. A person commits a disorderly persons offense if he does 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.
b. 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.c. As used in this section:
"lewd acts" shall include the exposing of the genitals for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the actor or of any other person.
Lewdness, then, can be either a disorderly persons offense or a fourth-degree crime. The disorderly persons offense is committed when the actor engages in "any flagrantly lewd and offensive act," which may include exposing of the actor's genitals, under circumstances such that the actor "knows or reasonably expects is likely to be observed by other non-consenting persons who would be affronted or alarmed." N.J.S.A. 2C:14-4a. Lewdness becomes a fourth-degree crime when it involves exposure of intimate parts for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification where the actor knows or reasonably expects that he is likely to be seen by a child less than thirteen years or by a victim who suffers from a mental disease or defect that makes that victim unable to understand the sexual nature of the actor's conduct. N.J.S.A. 2C:14-4b(1),(2).
While lewdness, within the meaning of N.J.S.A. 2C:14-4, must involve exposure of intimate parts for the purposes of the fourth-degree offense criminalized in subsection b, such exposure is not a necessary element of the disorderly persons offense criminalized in subsection a. State v. Zeidell, 154 N.J. 417, 430 (1998). Cf. State v. Breitweiser, 373 N.J. Super. 271, 285 (App. Div. 2004), certif. denied, 182 N.J. 628 (2005). Fourth-degree lewdness "is limited to exposing or displaying an actor's intimate parts rather than touching them." State v. Zeidell, supra, 154 N.J. at 431. On the other hand, sexual contact, such as masturbation, when committed "in the view of" a child who is less than thirteen years old, and where the actor is at least four years older than the child, will constitute second-degree sexual assault criminalized by N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2b. Ibid. See also State v. Breitweiser, supra, 373 N.J. Super. at 286-87; State v. Ridgeway, 256 N.J. Super. 202, 206 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 130 N.J. 18 (1992). Such touching, i.e., masturbation, may also provide a basis for third- or fourth-degree sexual contact criminalized by N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3, where the additional elements required thereby exist.
What happened in your case - what are they saying you did?
Were you "exposed"?
This can also be considered a "summary offense" - which is only a fine and no court record - like a speeding ticket. Do you know which it is? If it's a summary offense situation - then you would be crazy to not just pay the fine and go away.
I would retain counsel in this matter because you don't seem to know what's going on here. It can be clearly a summary offense and you go away. If it's a misdemeanor - then most assuredly you don't want this on your record and should fight the charges - very likely they will drop the charges to a summary offense if requested by retained counsel in the matter.
No, I'm just not sure if you know if it's a summary offense or a misdemeanor. There's obviously a big difference between the two charges and the ramifications thereon.
It now seems to me that this is a summary offense just like the officer described to you - pay your fine and go - no sense battling over this.
I would recommend you take the "ticket" and go to a local attorney's office and make sure of your charges or offenses.
Then it's a misdemeanor - you can't be sentenced to jail time for a summary offense.
I would then retain counsel to go with me to the hearing. I would do everything I could to get the matter reduced to a summary offense - no court record then of the matter.
I can't - we aren't allowed to operate with the customers outside of this venue. Sorry.
Yes, I would certainly and definitely plead NOT guilty.
Correct. Except you don't necessarily have to have a jury - a judge can decide the matter unless you opt for a jury.
I think you need representation to go talk to the police officer and the judge to see what, if any, deal can be made on your behalf.
There may be a record then of the arrest. However, the matter would then show resolved as a summary offense - much different than misdemeanor offense.
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