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Public Lewdness and Exposure of a Person: NY Penal Law 245.00 and 245.01

While you may have been arrested for “indecent exposure” in Manhattan’s Penn Station, Grand Central Station or the Port Authority Bus Terminal, by no means is your arrest irrefutable proof that you violated either New York Penal Law 245.00 or New York Penal Law 245.01. Is an arrest for PL 245.00, Public Lewdness, in your car or a park, humiliating? Is getting hauled off to a police station and sitting for multiple hours waiting for a NYC Desk Appearance Ticket as embarrassing as it is frightening? You don’t need a criminal defense lawyer to answer those two questions. What you do need, however, is to retain a New York criminal defense attorney for something far more important. Because cowering in fear of how an arrest for the class “B” misdemeanor of PL 245.00, Public Lewdness, or the violation of PL 245.01, Exposure of a Person, will do nothing to protect your name, career and otherwise clean criminal record, you must take affirmative steps to fight the accusations head on or mitigate your conduct to a non-criminal resolution. After all, your reputation, career and mental health demands as much.

Without addressing your particular defense to an arrest for either Public Lewdness or Exposure of a person regardless of where it allegedly occurred and in what jurisdiction – Brooklyn, White Plains, Queens, Yonkers, Manhattan, New City, Westchester or Rockland – it is incumbent upon you and your criminal defense lawyer to challenge what may ultimately amount to a baseless claim by an undercover police officer or an honest misunderstanding by a plain clothes cop. To err is human after all. The police might have wrongfully concluded you were exposing your penis and genitals in, for example, a men’s public bathroom, but that simply is not accurate. Regardless of your defense, in to best defend yourself against an “indecent exposure” arrest you need to understand the New York Penal Law as it relates to both Public Lewdness and Exposure of a Person.

Public Lewdness: Understanding the Criminal Law

In non-lawyerly terms, you are guilty of PL 245.00, Public Lewdness, when you intentionally expose the private or intimate parts of your body and you do so in a lewd manner. Although a “lewd act” is not defined by statute, court decisions have addressed this definition. For example, if you remove your penis from your pants and simulate or actually masturbate, courts and prosecutors would deem such an act as “lewd.” Obviously, if you are in a private place such as your home, this may not be a crime. The New York criminal code further requires that lewd act occur in public or in private premises under circumstances where you can be both readily observed from public or other private premises. If you are accused of PL 245.00 within a private location, then the District Attorney must further establish that you exposed yourself in a lewd matter with the intent that another person observes you.

Exposure of a Person: Understanding the Criminal Law

Exposure of a Person, PL 245.01, differs from Public Lewdness. You are guilty of this crime if prosecutors prove beyond a reasonable doubt that while in a public place you exposed the intimate or private parts of your body. As a woman, breastfeeding is rightfully not in violation of Exposure of a Person. However, if you expose your breasts below the top of your areola for any other reason than in connection to a performance in a play, exhibition, show or entertainment, then the crime would stand subject to other defenses you and your criminal defense attorney put forth.

Public Lewdness and Exposure of a Person: Direct and Collateral Consequences

A class “B” misdemeanor, if you are convicted of Public Lewdness, NY PL 245.00, a criminal court judge can sentence you to as much as three months in jail. If this conviction is in New York City then your sentence is served on the infamous Rikers Island. Alternatively, the court could sentence you to probation, community service, a conditional discharge or time served. Moreover, in addition to a fine up to $500, there are court costs and fees.

Not a crime, but a violation, Exposure of a Person, NY PL 245.01, is less serious than Public Lewdness. A conviction would be on your record as it wound its way through the criminal justice system and for a year after, but would not be considered a criminal conviction. Exposure upon sentence is as much as fifteen days incarceration.

Arguably equally important to some people, the collateral consequences of an arrest for either of these offenses can be devastating. Are you required to report this arrest to your employer such as if you were a teacher or other New York City Department of Education employee? If you are convicted of the misdemeanor crime, how will this impact your H-1B, F-1 or other visa? As a non-citizen, would a conviction trigger a review of your legal status, limit your ability to renew that status or prevent you from travelling? Is a conviction for Public Lewdness considered a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude or CIMT?

Public Lewdness and Exposure of a Person: Defenses

Your best defense to an arrest and Desk Appearance Ticket for Public Lewdness and Exposure of a Person is to take the time to sit down with your criminal defense attorney, explain why there might have been a misunderstanding by the arresting police officer, analyze how to mitigate your conduct and implement the strongest defense. The New York criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Saland Law have successfully mitigated, lessened or exonerated clients in countless scenarios including many of those involving men in public bathrooms or other locations charged with “indecent exposure” or similar crimes. Do you take medication or have any ailments that may impact your frequency or ability to urinate? Why might the police wrongfully have concluded you violated the law? If the evidence is strong, how can you lessen your exposure?

Whatever your ultimate defense may be, the sensitivity to such an arrest and the chance for a permanent criminal record, even if limited for a first time accused offender, demands immediate attention. You can overcome the embarrassment and humiliation, but only if you recognize the severity of your situation, remain calm and take the right steps to protect your future. When you do so, know that you can rely on Saland Law’s experience, advocacy and knowledge to stand with and lead you through this terrifying process to where you need to be to move forward with your life.

Call our New York criminal defense attorneys at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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