In New York, the crime of Public Lewdness (Penal Law Section 245.00) is
a class B misdemeanor. People arrested for this crime frequently receive
Desk Appearance Tickets (especially if they have no criminal record),
but are occasionally forced to spend a night in prison before their arraignment.
Individuals arrested for Public Lewdness are also frequently charged with
Exposure of a Person (Penal Law Section 245.01), a violation.
A person is guilty of Public Lewdness (Penal Law Section 245.00) when he
"intentionally exposes the private or intimates parts of his body
in a lewd manner or commits any other lewd act (a) in a public place,
or (b) in private premises under circumstances in which he may readily
be observed from either a public place or from other private premises,
and with intent that he be so observed."
A person is guilty of Exposure of a Person (Penal Law Section 245.01) when
he "appears in a public place in such a manner that the private or
intimate parts of his body are unclothed or exposed." Moreover, "for
purposes of this section, the private or intimate parts of a female person
shall include that portion of the breast which is below the top of the
areola. This section shall not apply to the breastfeeding of infants or
to any person entertaining or performing in a play, exhibition, show or
Obviously, the main difference between these charges is that Public Lewdness
contains an intent element, meaning that the person has to expose himself
intentionally, whereas Exposure of a Person requires no such showing by the prosecution.
These arrests usually stem from a police officer stumbling upon a person
engaged in a sexual act with another person or with himself in a public
place like an alley, a city park, a movie theater, a bathroom at a train
station, or some other public location. These arrests also occasionally
arise from people complaining that their neighbors are exhibitionists
performing lewd acts in their apartment windows for others to see.
Jail is an uncommon result in these cases, but some prosecutors insist
that the offender receive specialized behavioral treatment such as that
offered by the
Mustard Seed program, for example.
A conviction for this charge does not result in registration as a sex offender,
a particularly onerous penalty for an individual that carries with it
a variety of duties and hardships depending on the designated level of
the sex offender. Many other sex offenses do
result in registration, however.
If you or a loved one have been arrested or given a desk appearance ticket
for Public Lewdness (Penal Law Section 235.00), you should strongly consider hiring
an experienced criminal defense attorney with a background as a Manhattan
sex crimes prosecutor.
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