Have You Been Accused or Charged with Public Lewdness?
If so, you should be aware that this offense is considered a sex crime in Texas. If convicted of public lewdness, a person faces a Class A misdemeanor, which is the most serious misdemeanor charge with possible jail time and fines, or both.
Texas law prohibits individuals from “engaging in sexual activities” either in a public place OR recklessly in a place where another person will be offended or alarmed by these sexual activities (Tex. Pen. Code Sec. 21.07).
Sec. 21.07. PUBLIC LEWDNESS.
(a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly engages in any of the following acts in a public place or, if not in a public place, the person is reckless about whether another is present who will be offended or alarmed by the person’s:
- Act of sexual intercourse;
- Act of deviate sexual intercourse; or
- Act of sexual contact.
As a result, if you have sex in a public place in Texas, you can be charged with public lewdness. Many people may choose to engage in such acts because they may feel a sense of privacy or falsely assume they are hidden from plain sight. Whether you are in a public place or not, you can still be convicted if it is shown that you were reckless in your sexual conduct.
How is Reckless Defined in Texas?
Under Sec. 6.03 (c), a person knows there is a “substantial and unjustifiable risk” associated with the circumstances or likely result of their conduct but engages in that conduct regardless, is “reckless.”
Risk also has a meaning under the law: risk is defined as a risk that must be “of such a nature and degree that its disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.”
A person, as a result, cannot claim that they were engaged in sexual activity but did not do so in a public place because they may have still acted recklessly. For example, two college students who have sex in a car at night and the car is in a dorm room parking lot are reckless because it is still a public area frequented by third parties regardless of the time of day.
What are the Consequences of a Public Lewdness Conviction?
In addition to potential public embarrassment, a conviction of public lewdness in Texas carries a Class A misdemeanor, with possible jail time and legal fines. While this offense is one of the few sex crimes that do not require a person who is convicted to register as a sex offender, a background check will still appear on a person’s criminal record.
If convicted, you may face the following consequences:
- Serving up to one year in jail
- Paying a fine up to $4,000
- A sex crime on your public record
- Loss of your career or livelihood
- The stigma of involvement in a sex crime
Is a Class A Misdemeanor Offense Worth Hiring a Defense Lawyer? Should I Hire a Defense Lawyer for this Class A Misdemeanor?
If you are facing a sex crime, your best chance for fighting the charges against you is to find a highly experienced and skilled team of sex crime Plano defense lawyers. It is also imperative for a person accused or convicted of committing a sex offense to contact and retain a legal team as quickly as possible.
Even if not convicted or completely exonerated of public lewdness, there may still be lifelong consequences. At Barbieri Law Firm, our team of dedicated and relentless attorneys care about you and your future. We are client-focused and will never give up on fighting to achieve successful results in your case.
We can help now – Contact criminal defense lawyer Heather Barbieri and her team of aggressive, compassionate lawyers to find out how.