Criminal Law

Lewd and Lascivious Behavior

Key Takeaways:

  • Lewd and lascivious conduct involves offensive sexual conduct in front of others.
  • A conviction for lewd and lascivious conduct is generally a misdemeanor offense.
  • Lewd and lascivious behavior involving a child can be a felony sex crime.

Touching yourself or someone else in a sexual way in public can lead to arrest. Even without exposure, groping someone or touching your genitals may be lewd and lascivious behavior. Lewd conduct in public can lead to jail time, fines, and a criminal record.

An arrest for lewd and lascivious behavior can be very embarrassing. Many defendants charged with lewd behavior plead guilty to avoid dealing with the criminal charges. However, an attorney may be able to help you avoid a conviction and keep your record clean. If you are arrested for lewd behavior, contact an experienced lewd and lascivious behavior lawyer for legal advice.

What Is Lewd and Lascivious Behavior?

Lewd and lascivious behavior is a legal term that refers to offensive sexual conduct. Generally, lewd conduct involves touching the genitals, buttocks, or breasts sexually. Touching may be with the intent to gratify yourself sexually or to arouse another person. Lewd conduct involves sexual touching in public and witnessed by another person who might be offended.

Sexual acts in public could include private spaces. For example, if you are masturbating in front of the window with people walking by, it may be lewd and lascivious conduct.

What Does It Mean to Be Lewd?

Lewd and lascivious conduct happens all the time. Most of the time, no one reports the sexual activity. People may not think it’s offensive enough to call the police. For example, touching yourself suggestively at a dance club could be lascivious. Two people making out on a park bench could also be lewd or lascivious behavior if they are groping each other.

What Are the Criminal Penalties for Lewd or Lascivious Acts?

Depending on the state, lewd and lascivious exhibition is generally a misdemeanor offense. A misdemeanor conviction may be punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine. The defendant may also face additional indecent exposure charges if they exposed themselves.

Lewd or Lascivious Behavior Involving a Child

Lewd and lascivious acts involving a child is a much more severe crime. This involves sexual contact with a child or causing the child to touch the offender for sexual desire. This does not necessarily have to involve touching the genitals, buttocks, or breasts and may include any touching of a child for arousal.

Also known as lewd or lascivious battery, lewd acts with a child is generally a felony charge. Different state laws apply depending on the victim’s age. There may be additional penalties if the child is under 16 years old, under 15 years old, or under 14 at the time. The penalties are also based on how much older the perpetrator is than the child.

Like with statutory rape, consent is not a defense to lascivious molestation of a child because a minor cannot legally consent.

In most cases, lewd, indecent, or obscene acts involving a minor are registerable offenses. After a conviction, the defendant may have to register as a sex offender. After release from prison, offenders must register with the police within a few days. Sex offenders will have to re-register every year, or anytime they move.

As a sex offender, your personal information may be available to the public. The state’s sex offender registry is available online, and anyone can search and find your:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Physical description
  • Current photograph

What Are Defense Attorney Strategies to Lascivious Charges?

An arrest for lewd conduct does not have to result in a conviction. Any sexual acts or suggestive action could lead to an arrest, even if it is not lewd or lascivious. If the touching was not done for any sexual purpose, it should not be against the law. This could include scratching an itch or adjusting your clothing to be more comfortable.

Keep Your Arrest Private

An arrest for lascivious crimes can be embarrassing. You may have had a misunderstanding or had too much to drink. It can be challenging to confront criminal charges, but fighting back may be the only way to keep a conviction off your record.

You don’t have to worry about feeling ashamed when talking to a criminal defense attorney. The attorney-client relationship will protect your privacy. Contact a criminal defense lawyer for help with your lewd and lascivious battery charge.

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Our Legal Experts

John Devendorf, Esq. Attorney Writer
Tim Kelly, J.D. Legal Writer and Editor