Houston Criminal Law Blog

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Accused of Public Lewdness: What Penalties Am I Facing?

Lewdness may be considered as any action involving bawdiness, obscenity, lasciviousness or salacity. In some jurisdictions, however, lewdness is a term used to describe a criminal offense of a sexual nature. In Texas, for example, Chapter 21 of Title 5 in the Penal Code describes public lewdness as an act that involves:

  • Sexual contact
  • Intercourse
  • Sexual deviancy
  • Bestiality

It is important to note that although public lewdness has a connotation of an act being committed publicly rather than privately, the Texas Penal Code also specifies that this offense may be committed in the presence of others who may be offended by the act.

Punishment for Public Lewdness Offenses in Texas

Section 21.07 of the Texas Penal Code puts public lewdness under the category of Class A Misdemeanors. This means that someone who is prosecuted for this crime may face the following penalties:

  • Up to twelve months in a state correctional institution
  • A monetary fine of up to $4,000
  • Community service
  • Probation
  • A record in the Sex Offender Registration Program administered by the Texas Department of Public Safety

With regard to being included in the sex offender registry, it is important to note that Texas courts may allow juvenile defendants some level of discretion insofar as sealing their court records or erasing them once they become adults.

The Social Stigma of Sexual Crimes in Texas

In the Lone Star State, being charged and convicted with a sexual crime may lead to a lifetime of embarrassment and difficulty. In many cases, public lewdness could lead to the defendant losing his or her job and having a very hard time finding future job opportunities. The overall tarnishing of personal reputation could extend to losing child custody or visitation rights and even the loss of a professional license.

Social stigmatization is the most important reason for defendants to retain aggressive representation against public lewdness charges in Texas. Defendants who are convicted of sex crimes in the Lone Star State are likely to experience a considerable reduction in their quality of life, which makes it necessary to seek criminal defense attorneys who can approach the case from various angles.

When it comes to formulating an effective strategy to defend against public lewdness charges, criminal defense lawyers will first investigate the possibility of getting the case dismissed. Other techniques may involve looking at the circumstances surrounding the arrest and whether the act in question can really be considered of a sexual nature. In some cases, the best outcome may involve negotiating with the prosecution and coming to an agreement that may avert jail time or registration in the sex offender database.

Getting a Criminal Defense Attorney

The best way to resolve a sex crime accusation is the hire a criminal defense attorney with experiences in sex crimes cases. This is important because a knowledgeable attorney can craft an effective defense strategy. Speak with Matthew Sharp today by calling 713-868-6100.

*Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

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