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The Naked City – Defending Cases Involving ‘Public Lewdness’ (P.L. 245.00) and ‘Exposure of a Person’ (P.L. 245.01) in New York

As criminal defense attorneys, we defend people from all walks of life who have been accused of committing a wide variety of crimes. Here, we discuss two of the more embarrassing charges some of our clients face: Public Lewdness (P.L. § 245.00) and Exposure of a Person (P.L. § 245.01).

P.L. § 245.01 – Exposure of a Person

We’ll deal with this one first. Simply put, Exposure of a Person makes it a violation to expose one’s private parts in public. This statute is fairly straight forward enough.

Public Lewdness is just slightly more complicated…

P.L. § 245.00 – Public Lewdness

“Public Lewdness” generally applies when a person (a) in a public place, or (b) on private premises which may readily be observed from another private premises, (c) exposes the private or intimate parts of his or her body in a lewd manner, or (d) commits any lewd act. Lewd acts are not specifically defined in the Penal Law. The way the Public Lewdness statute is structured, a person need not be accused of actually exposing him or herself in order to be accused of violating it. For example, a person may be charged with this misdemeanor by masturbating over his clothes in a public place.

New York is rife with public places. A “public place” is defined as “one that is visible to a member of the passing public.” Common public places where defendants find themselves accused of engaging in lewd behavior are: bars, clubs, subway cars or platforms, lobbies or hallways, urinals or public transportation facility bathroom stalls (such as Penn Station or Port Authority), parks and vehicles.

Public Lewdness is a Class B misdemeanor which means being convicted of P.L. § 245.00 carries the following consequences:

  • The accused is left with a permanent criminal record, with the added stigma of the Penal Law title being humiliating in nature;
  • The conviction must be disclosed when the accused is asked if he/she has ever been convicted of a crime;
  • The potential for up to 3 months of incarceration;
  • The possibility of a term of Probation;
  • Mandatory surcharges and victim assistance fees;
  • Mandatory production of a DNA sample to be uploaded into New York’s Database for first time offenders.

Defending Public Lewdness and Exposure of a Person:

Pubic Lewdness and Exposure of a person are often charged together, since people accused of engaging in lewd acts are often concurrently alleged to have exposed themselves. If you find yourself charged with one or both, after either being brought to Central Booking or being issued a Desk Appearance Ticket, you should contact a lawyer immediately, for a myriad of reasons.

First, you’re being charged with a crime. Whether you have a voluminous criminal record or none at all, no one in jeopardy of criminal punishment should be without counsel. You can’t fight these charges – which are being brought by the NYPD and the local District Attorney – by yourself.

Second, just because you’ve been accused of a crime does not mean you deserve to be convicted of one. A good lawyer is going to fully debrief you on the facts of the case, explore any rushes to judgment or mistakes law enforcement may have made, highlight any flaws in their proof, and/or prepare mitigation on your behalf in an attempt to secure a result you can live with. These are tasks that an experienced criminal defense attorney should perform.

Every case is different, and every client is different. Although you may be accused of committing these fairly common crimes, there is a unique and custom-fit defense which needs to be prepared or you. Our team of former veteran prosecutors are experienced in dealing with the people who are tasked with prosecuting you, and know exactly what type of regimen needs to be put in place to secure the best result on your behalf. If you or a loved one is in the unfortunate situation of being faced with Public Lewdness and/or Exposure of a Person, call us now. Our professional team isn’t here to judge you – only to help.