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Lewd Conduct

The crime of “open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior” is governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 Section 16 as one of the Crimes against Chastity, Morality, Decency and Good Order. Although the law itself does not indicate what specifically constitutes “open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior,” Massachusetts courts have helped to define the offense. Violation of this law requires that the Commonwealth prove that the defendant:

(1)    exposed genitals, breasts, or buttocks
(2)    acted intentionally
(3)    acted with reckless disregard of public exposure
(4)    acted in a manner designed to create shock or alarm
(5)    shocked or alarmed one or more persons

Note that, in Massachusetts, breastfeeding is not considered lewd and lascivious conduct.

Lewd conduct that violates Chapter 272 Section 16 is punishable by up to 3 years in state prison, up to 2 years in jail, or by a fine of up to $300.00. Beyond jail time and fines, however, a conviction for indecent exposure can tarnish your reputation and your future, particularly with regard to educational, employment and housing opportunities. Given these potential restraints on your liberty, a charge against you is best handled by an experienced Boston and Cambridge criminal defense lawyer. Our lewd conduct defense attorneys—who have served clients in the Greater Boston area for over 40 years—understand that facing a criminal charge, particularly a charge that can irreversibly damage your reputation and record, can be confusing and overwhelming. Our seasoned Massachusetts lawyers are here to help you, whether by seeking to have the charges dropped or by defending you should your case go to trial.

Indecent Exposure

Similar to the crime of lewd conduct is the crime of “indecent exposure,” which is governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 Section 53. Although the statute does not define “indecent exposure,” the term has been defined and interpreted by Massachusetts courts as “an intentional act of lewd exposure, offensive to one or more persons.” Examples of indecent exposure might include urinating in public, exposing genitalia in outside the home (e.g., on the MBTA), or public masturbation.

In order for an individual to be convicted of indecent exposure, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:

(1)    exposed his or her genitals to one or more persons
(2)    did so intentionally
(3)    offended one or more persons

The punishment for “indecent exposure” is slightly less serious than the punishment for “lewd conduct.” Indecent exposure is only a misdemeanor and it does not apply to the exposure of pubic hair, buttocks or breasts. In contrast to “lewd conduct,” an individual’s genitals must be exposed—and intentionally¬—in order for the person to be charged with this crime. An individual convicted of indecent exposure, categorized as a misdemeanor, can be punished by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for up to 6 months and/or by a fine of up to $200.00. With the potential to face jail time, a fine, and a stained reputation, it is critical to contact an indecent exposure defense attorney at the Greater Boston law firm of Altman & Altman, LLP, as soon as possible if you have been charged with indecent exposure. 

If you or a loved one has been charged with indecent exposure, lewdness and lascivious behavior, or another sex crime, call the experienced Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer at Altman & Altman, LLP. Our criminal defense team has the skill and knowledge that comes with over four decades of experience. Contact us to schedule a free, confidential consultation, where we will explain your legal options and answer any legal questions you may have. We are available by phone at 617.492.3000 or at 800.481.6199 (toll free) around the clock and respond promptly to all emails received by the firm.

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