New York City Lewdness & Exposure Defense Attorney

New York State law provides that exposure of a Person (P.L. 245.01) can be charged when you show your private parts in public. Public lewdness (P.L. 245.00) is more serious and can be charged if the exposure is intentional and in a lewd manner. Either one can lead to an embarrassing record that is often unwarranted when considering the entire context of what occurred. Despite the fact that most people believe they know when someone's conduct has crossed the line and become lewd or criminally improper, the law, set forth below, is less than clear. 245.00 lawyer

Bathrooms. In 2007, Senator Larry Craig (a Republican) was caught in a Minneapolis airport for trying to engage in a gay sexual encounter. An undercover police officer sitting in the adjacent stall noticed that Craig was tapping his foot up and down and swiped his hand to try to get the undercover's attention. These actions were recognized by the police as a known signal to initiate a sexual encounter. Craig plead guilty and his career and personal life were destroyed. It is very difficult to convince anyone that you're innocent after you've pled guilty in court which is why it is critical that you obtain representation as soon as possible. Public places like men’s restrooms in transportation facilities like Grand Central, Penn Station, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and Central Park are known to the NYPD to be places where gay and bisexual men congregate for an anonymous encounter. This is sometimes referred to as “cruising”. The Craig case heightened public awareness of this issue and the risks of getting arrested.

Parks. The NYPD sends under conver police officers into New York City parks such as Central Park to look for possible sexual activity. The Rambles secion of Central Park is known to be a place where men congregate for sexual encounters.

Bars / Clubs. Alcohol can cause you to do things that you might otherwise not do. If a resulting lapse in judgement leads to sexual activity happening inside or near the establishment or in public, you could get arrested for public lewdness and/or exposure.

Other Public Places. New York has the greatest population density of any city in the U.S. As a result, it is simply more likely here than anywhere else that if you are engaging in something meant to be private, others may see you and get offended. Also, this population density means that there are more prying eyes which increases the risk that an honest mistake about something you're doing could lead to handcuffs and a lewdness or exposure charge. We have successfully argued that clients who were accused of masturbating were simply urinating or that the witness was mistaken about what they saw. Even if a error in judgement has lead you to be charged with lewdness or exposure, it may be possible to get the charges dismissed or reduced in light of the unique facts and circumstances of your case. Contact us for a free case evaluation.

P.L. § 245.00 Public Lewdness - P.L. 245.00 (PDF)

A person is guilty of public lewdness when he intentionally exposes the private or intimate parts of his body in a lewd manner or commits any other lewd act (a) in a public place, or (b) in private premises under circumstances in which he may readily be observed from either a public place or from other private premises, and with intent that he be so observed.

P.L.§ 245.01 Exposure of a person - P.L. 245.01 (PDF)

A person is guilty of exposure if he appears in a public place in such a manner that the private or intimate parts of his body are unclothed or exposed. For purposes of this section, the private or intimate parts of a female person shall include that portion of the breast which is below the top of the areola. This section shall not apply to the breastfeeding of infants or to any person entertaining or performing in a play, exhibition, show or entertainment.

Lewdness and Exposure are only illegal in public and the law defines a "public place" as "a place to which the public or a substantial group of persons has access, and includes... highways, transportation facilities (such as Grand Central, Penn Station, Port Authority) , schools, places of amusement, parks, playgrounds, hallways, lobbies, and other portions of apartment houses and hotels not constituting rooms or apartments designed for actual residence" (P..L. 240.00(1)). Subway platforms have also been designated public places for lewdness & exposure cases. The circumstances greatly dictate whether the prosecutor can establish public lewdness because what is considered a "lewd manner" or "lewd act" or an intent to be observed may vary from person to person. Exposure of a person, section 245.01 was enacted in 1967 with the goal of discouraging topless waitresses but it has been expanded and it can be charged in a variety of situations.

What is lewd? What is or is not a "lewd act" is not defined by statute. In Matter of Paul R. (1987), a person seen masturbating in front of someone's window was found to be prohibited by the phrase "any other lewd act" under 245.00 as was a defendant seen masturbating in a subway station in People v. Hatton (2015).

Lewdness Penalties:

  • Class B Misdemeanor
  • Jail up to 3 months
  • Probation
  • Interim probation supervision
  • A permanent criminal record
  • Immigration, travel, and employment consequences
  • A fine of up to $500, $175 surcharge, $25 crime victim assistance fee

Exposure Penalties:

  • Violation
  • Jail up to 15 days
  • Record for a year (or longer depending on sealing waiver)
  • Immigration, travel, and employment consequences
  • A fine of up to $250, $95 surcharge, $25 crime victim assistance fee

Your Best Strategy

Following arrest, you may be held for booking or given a desk appearance ticket and released. Never go to court alone. The outcome of your case will greatly depend on your attorney so choose someone who exclusively handles criminal cases and has successfully handled other lewdness or exposure cases. Lance Fletcher, a former Manhattan prosecutor, has experience prosecuting and defending lewdness and public exposure cases throughout New York City. He realizes that something as negligible as urinating in public, a misunderstanding, or seemingly innocuous as consensual sex can lead to this embarrassing criminal charge. Regardless of how strong the case against you seems to be, you can avoid many serious penalties by carefully fighting the charges. Through a careful analysis of the facts of your case, it may be possible for Mr. Fletcher to negotiate an outcome that will (1) avoid a criminal conviction, (2) avoid jail or probation, and (3) cause the arrest to be removed from your official record. Call today for a free case evaluation 212-619-3900.

Some of our Public Lewdness Case Results

Grand Central - Client was allegedly masturbating in a public restroom. Client was arrested and gave a full confession. Client was charged with lewdness and exposure. Client was married with children and didin't want a trial for fear that his family would find out. Result: Case dismissed, no criminal record. We later provided client with confirmation that client's arrest photo and fingerprint records were destroyed. Case resolved without trial and Client's family never found out.

Grand Central - Client observed by arresting officer masturbating in the restroom - Given a desk appearance ticket and later charged with public lewdness and exposure. Client admitted it to the arresting officer but didn't have a lawyer present. Result: Criminal charges dropped and reduced to non-criminal violation, case sealed. No criminal record.

Grand Central - Client observed by MTA employee masturbating in a men's restroom - Given a desk appearance ticket and charged with lewdness and exposure in court. Client was not a citizen. Result: Case eventually dismissed and no serious immigration consequences.

Grand Central - Client observed by MTA employee masturbating in a urinal - Given a desk appearance ticket and charged with lewdness and exposure in court. Result: Criminal charges dropped and reduced to non-criminal violation, case sealed and we provided client with confirmation that arrest photograph and fingerprint record was destroyed. Client also requested we run background check later which confirmed client's record was clean.

Grand Central - Client and another person were arrested for alleged sexual activity in a restroom. Client was later charged with exposure and lewdness. Client faced immigration consequences.Result: Case dismissed, no criminal record.

Penn Station - Client allegedly masturbating in a urinal witnessed by undercover. Client had professional license and applying for citizenship. Client was arrested and given a desk appearance ticket charging Exposure (245.01) and later Lewdness (245.00) was charged in court Result: No criminal conviction, no criminal record, small fine. No immigration consequences.

Penn Station - Client allegedly exposed self to undercover police officer. Gave full written confession. Client was married with children and feared any public trial would destroy client's marriage. Result: Case eventually dismissed, no criminal record and case resolved with no trial and no public hearings regarding the alleged facts. Basically, everything was kept as quiet as possible.

Penn Station - Client was arrested after using urinal. Client provide full written confession that client was cursing and looking for sexual encounter. Result: Exposure and Lewdness charges dropped and case reduced to non-criminal violation, no criminal record, small fine. Record sealed. We provided client with written confirmation that client's arrest photograph and fingerprints were destroyed as part of the outcome.

Port Authority - Client and another person were arrested in a Port Authority bathroom - Client was worried that the other person would tell the judge that Client exposed Client's intimate areas - Other person had investigator harass Client - Result: We were able to stop the harassment, Case eventually dismissed. No criminal record, arrest photograph and fingerprints sealed.

Port Authority - Client arrested for exposing self to undercover police officer - Client was given a desk appearance ticket charging exposure 245.01 and was charged with lewdness 245.00 in court. Client was a working professional and was concerned about losing employment. Result: Criminal charges dropped, case reduced to non-criminal violation, small fine. We were able to provide client with written confirmation that Client's arrest photograph and fingerprint record were destroyed as a result of the deal we reached in court.

Central Park - Client observed by undercover police officer masturbating in the Rambles - Client was given a desk appearance ticket with a top offense charged of 245.00 but 245.01 was added later. Client also gave the police a full confession. Client was married and an executive at a major corporation. Result: Case eventually dismissed, no criminal record, arrest records sealed. We were also able to provide client with written confirmation that Client's arrest photograph and fingerprint record were destroyed.

Central Park - Client observed by police officer wearing plain clothing engaging in sexual activity with another person who was not arrested - Client was given a desk appearance ticket. Client was a professional and had been arrested before for the same thing. Result: Public lewdness and public exposure charges dropped, small fine, no criminal record, arrest records sealed.

Central Park - Client observed by undercover police officer engaging in sexual activity with another person who was also arrested - Client was given a desk appearance ticket with a top offense charged of 245.01. Client was married and had a professional career hanging in the balance. Result: Public lewdness and public exposure charges dropped, small fine, no criminal record, arrest records sealed.

Call today for a free case evaluation 212-619-3900.

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