Penn Station Lewdness and Exposure Lawyer

In 2007, Senator Larry Craig (a Republican) was arrested in a Minneapolis airport for looking to engage in gay sex. The arresting officer noticed that he was tapping his foot up and down and swiped his hand underneath the stall in which an undercover cop was sitting. These actions were recognized by the police as a known signal to initiate a sexual encounter. Although Craig initially denied any wrong doing, he later plead guilty. Public places like men’s restrooms in transportation facilities like Penn Station, Grand Central, the Port Authority, and in other public meeting areas like 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”.

Police involvement. The NTPD generally investigates areas were members of the public have complained about it being used for sex. From the District Attorney’s perspective, the public has a right to enter public areas without fearing that they will encounter a lewd sexual act. As a result, the Manhattan District Attorney takes a tough position even for first time offenders.

New York Penn Station handles 600,000 rail passengers per day and is the busiest commuter transportation facility in North America. Penn Station only has six public bathrooms for these 600,000 passengers and as you can imagine, these bathrooms are often in poor repair and are overly crowded. The men’s bathrooms in Penn Station are occasionally patrolled by undercover officers looking for any indications of lewd conduct or improper exposure.

Possible Penn Station Charges

§ 245.00 Public lewdness. You're guilty of public lewdness in Penn Station when you intentionally expose your private parts in a lewd manner or commit any other lewd actP.L. 245.00 Public Lewdness (PDF)

§ 245.01 Exposure. You're guilty of exposure of a person, § P.L. 245.01 if you appear in public in a manner that your private or intimate parts are exposed.

Public Lewdness Penalties (§ 245.00)

  • Up to 90 days in jail
  • Permanent criminal record following conviction
  • Permanent arrest photo and fingerprint record
  • DNA database registration
  • Employment and immigration consequences

You can be easily be accused.

  • If you go to the bathroom, you're committing most of the elements of public lewdness, P.L. 245.00 and exposure, P.L. 245.01 because you have to expose your private parts to urinate.
  • The difference between properly going to the bathroom and being arrested and charged with public lewdness comes down to whether you were exposing your privates in a lewd manner.
  • "Lewd" is obscene or indecent, tending to moral impurity or wantonness.
  • "Lewdness" is gross, wanton, and public indecency; a sexual act that the actor knows will likely be observed by someone who will be affronted or alarmed by it. (People v. Wade, NY County, 2016). A conviction was upheld where the defendant was exposing and rubbing his penis in open view towards another person in public. (People v. Topy, NY County 2002).
  • Often, an arrest for public lewdness in Penn Station happens because a police officer believes you were exposing your penis for sexual reasons but what if you were just using the bathroom?

Misunderstanding. The police are supposed to only arrest you for lewd behavior, not for simply going to the bathroom in Penn Station while on your way home. Because of Penn Station's poor lighting, small spaces, and constant commotion (of over 600,000 people per day) even a trained officer can make an honest mistake. The consequences of this mistake can be severe, not only because of the immediate embarrassment of being arrested in a public bathroom, but also the future court date where you will be formally accused in open court. Any conviction can lead to a permanent criminal record and worse.

Your Best Strategy

Take this step by step. We often see clients who are so embarrassed that they don't reach out to an attorney until it's too late. The NYPD and Manhattan District Attorney take a tough position on lewdness and exposure cases. They expect that you'll be so embarrassed, simply because you were accused, that you won't fight back. Fighting back is your best option. If you did something that you regret or if you have been falsely accused, it is natural to feel embarrassed but don't give up. A conviction can lead to consequences beyond what happens in criminal court. So, contact us as soon as possible. Often, we can identify winning defenses hidden in the facts of your case. We have successfully defended many clients who provided full written confessions.

How Lance Fletcher can help. If you have been arrested public lewdness and/or exposure in New York Penn Station, contact us 212-619-3900 for a free and confidential case evaluation. Although any accusation of this type is embarrassing, don't go to court alone. Conviction can lead to a permanent criminal record which can cause employment, immigration, travel, and other consequences. Lance Fletcher, aformer Manhattan prosecutor, will analyze the unique facts and circumstances of your arrest, any statement you made to the police, and possible defense that you may not have realized.

Some of our Public Lewdness Case Results (Penn Station)

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.

Contact us 212-619-3900 for a free and confidential case evaluation.

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