Lewd and lascivious conduct is a broad term that applies, generally, to pornography, prostitution and indecent acts of a sexual nature. Some indecent acts involving adults may be considered misdemeanors. When the act involves a juvenile, legal charges can increase to a felony.
An act of lewd and lascivious behavior can result in a criminal record and registration as a sex offender.
Lewd and lascivious conduct is not usually its own formal charge under federal law and generally falls under obscenity statutes. Many state laws define lewd and lascivious behavior on its own.
Broadly speaking, lewd and lascivious charges often involve sexually inappropriate behavior such as public intercourse, indecent exposure of the genitals in public and inappropriate sexual solicitation of a minor. Federal courts have previously judged “lascivious” to be a term referring to an act that excites sexual desire.
Lewd and lascivious behavior frequently pertains to sexual offenses involving children.
Inciting a minor to participate in sexual acts, including those considered highly offensive from a moral perspective such as bestiality or sadomasochism qualifies as lewd and lascivious battery or molestation in certain states.
Public flashers are examples of lewd and lascivious offenders because they are accused of publicly exposing their genitalia for salacious purposes.
At the federal level, obscenity statutes cover criminal behaviors spanning the production and distribution of child pornography in addition to the production and distribution of sexual materials that the average or “reasonable” person finds perverse or degrading.
The punishment for obscenity offenses at the federal level range in severity with relation to the degree of the crime committed. For example, if you are involved in the business of producing, selling and transporting obscene material involving interstate or foreign commerce, you could face up to a five-year prison sentence if convicted. This penalty may be enhanced if the materials in question involve a minor.
Some states offer two different categories — lewd and lascivious battery and lewd and lascivious molestation. The former offense concerns adults who have sex with a minor between the ages of 12 and 15, or who encourage the minor to engage in sexual activity of any sort. The punishment for those convicted of lewd and lascivious battery ranges from five years imprisonment to life imprisonment, in addition to fines.
Lewd and lascivious molestation can carry a sentence of 25 years to life if the victim is under 12 years of age, and up to 15 years imprisonment if the victim is older than 12, but younger than 16, depending on the state. In all cases, sex offender probation is attached to the sentence.
Lewd and lascivious acts with a minor refers to sex offenses involving an underage victim. This age depends on the jurisdiction, and in some states, Romeo and Juliet clauses may also apply.
The terms lewd and lascivious have extremely similar definitions, typically relating to offensive sexual acts, solicitations or desires. Given that the two terms essentially mean the same thing, they are often considered synonyms with very few points of distinction.
The statute of limitations concerning the prosecution of lewd and lascivious offenses depends entirely upon the severity of the crime and the jurisdiction of the charges.
At the federal level, there is no statute of limitations concerning charges related to child pornography, should obscenity charges fall under this categorization. For felonious lascivious behavior charges unrelated to minors, the standard 5-year statute of limitations applies.
State governments have their own statute of limitations concerning lewd and lascivious behavior. In Florida, for example, those accused of a felony such as lascivious battery or child molestation (an adult offender sexually touches a child under the age of 12) have no defense offered by the statute of limitations. By contrast, those accused of a second-degree felony (an adult soliciting a lewd or lascivious act from a minor under the age of 16) may find reprieve via a 3-year statute of limitations. However, the 3-year statute of limitations does not come into effect until the victim either turns 18 or reports the incident to law enforcement officials.
In some states, the statute of limitations extends indefinitely for lewd and lascivious battery or lewd and lascivious molestation charges pertaining to offenses wherein the victim was under 16 unless the offender was also a minor less than a year older than the victim.
Initially, your lawyer will advise you not to talk to investigators without the benefit of legal counsel to prevent you from incriminating yourself. This is your constitutional right.
Criminal defense lawyers will evaluate the evidence and investigative reports to determine if any of your constitutional rights have been violated, which could result in a dismissal of the charges against you. Your attorney will also interview witnesses to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their testimony and the honesty of their character, and determine the availability of any mitigating circumstances that could help in your defense.
If the offense involved a juvenile, the standard defenses of consent, ignorance of age and that the victim was the same age as you will not be available to you.
Your attorney will develop a defense theory based upon the circumstances of the offense, the actual acts of the alleged offense, the testimony of witnesses, evidence in your favor
and character witnesses.
It may be possible for your attorney to argue that the allegations are false or that no intent to be lewd or lascivious existed.
If you are so disposed, your attorney can negotiate a plea bargain to reduce the punishment of the offense and argue that you be placed on parole.
If you are arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior it is imperative that you seek legal counsel at the earliest possible moment. Getting legal counsel early can protect your rights and help in your defense.