Last month, a Hillsborough resident reported seeing a man masturbating outside of his Meadowbrook Drive home in Somerset County, New Jersey. Recent press reports that a suspect has been arrested and charged with the incident as well as two similar incidents from the fall of 2018.
According to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office, all three incidents occurred at different homes in the area and were captured by surveillance cameras. The suspect is charged with three counts of fourth-degree peering, two counts of fourth-degree lewdness, and a disorderly persons offense.
Indecent Exposure and Lewdness Laws in New Jersey
While the incidents that occurred in Hillsborough appear to be blatant acts of indecent exposure, there are many cases that are far less obvious, and sometimes the perpetrators may not even be aware that they're committing a crime.
According to NJ Statute § 2C:14-4, lewd acts refer to "the exposing of the genitals for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the actor or of any other person."
A disorderly persons offense constitutes any flagrantly lewd or offensive act that the actor can reasonably expect might be observed by "other nonconsenting persons who would be affronted or alarmed."
These crimes are considered of the fourth degree if the actor exposes himself knowing or reasonably expecting that a child under 13 years old is likely to observe, or that a person who is unable to understand the sexual nature of the conduct because of a mental disease or defect is likely to observe.
As such, there are many incidents that qualify as lewdness or disorderly persons offenses outside of masturbating on someone else's property.
For example, if you are caught sneaking away with your significant other for a special moment on the beach, or even just relieving yourself outside, you could find yourself slapped with charges and labeled a first-time offender.
What are the Potential Consequences of Lewd Conduct?
If convicted of a disorderly persons offense, you could face a number of undesirable penalties, including a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail. If a motor vehicle were involved in the crime, you could also have your license suspended for a maximum of two years.
Crimes of the fourth degree are punished more severely, and perpetrators can face a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 18 months in prison.
You Need an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing lewd conduct, disorderly persons, or other criminal charges, premier New Jersey criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team can help. Lento and his Team have many years of experience defending the accused and will work tirelessly to protect your rights. Call (888) 535-3686 or contact us online to set up your consultation today.
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