In Texas, sex crime laws are there to stop illegal sexual behavior including sexual misconduct and illegal forms of pornography. One crime that falls under the broad umbrella of sex crimes is public lewdness.
If you find yourself facing public lewdness charges, the Schiffer Law Firm will navigate you through these embarrassing and rough times and help you come out the other side with as little trouble as possible. Our talented staff will work hard to put you first and put together a case to get the best possible result.
Regardless of how stupid the situation was that got you here – you are facing a criminal conviction. So do not brush this off as being just “stupid” or insignificant. A future employer, school, government official, law enforcement, etc. will see that a sex crime conviction is on your record and treat you accordingly.
There is no question that this charge is a dangerous and life-altering moment in your life. If you or someone you love has been accused of this serious offense, it’s expected and natural for you to be petrified at this moment. What you need is to pull yourself together and start literally fighting for your life. However, you should not fight this battle alone. You don’t just need a lawyer, you need a team of experienced sex crime defense lawyers and staff. Schiffer Law Firm is that team.
With over 45 years of combined defense experience, as well as working in both state and federal prosecutors’ offices, both prosecuting and defending sex crimes cases, our attorneys have found that investigation and intensive preparation are the keys to a successful resolution.
To generalize the law, public lewdness is performing sexual acts in public.
Public lewdness falls under section 21.07 of the Texas Penal Code. It defines public lewdness as when a person knowingly engages in a sexual act in a public place or in front of someone who is offended by the behavior. For example, if you’re engaging in a sexual act thinking you’re in private but someone sees you and is alarmed or offended, you can be charged with public lewdness.
The penal code defines a sexual act as:
(1) sexual intercourse;
(2) deviate sexual intercourse; or
(3) act of sexual contact.
Under the law, sexual intercourse is defined as the penetration of the female sex organ with the male sex organ while deviate sexual intercourse is defined as any kind of contact between the genitals of a person with the mouth or anus of another. Penetration of the mouth or anus with an object other than a sex organ also falls under deviate sexual intercourse. Sexual conduct is touching the genitals, breasts, or anus with the specific intent to arouse and/or gratify sexual desire. Section 21.07 also covers contact between an individual person’s mouth, genitals, or anus with the anus or genitals of an animal or fowl.
If you’re found guilty of public lewdness, you’re guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. Under section 12.21, anyone guilty of a Class A misdemeanor is subject to up to one year in jail, a $4,000 fine or a combination of both. Probation and community service are also possible punishments for public lewdness.
Besides the direct punishment, being convicted of public lewdness in Texas can have other ramifications. For example, there is a chance that your conviction will prohibit you from legally obtaining a License to Carry for up to five years.
You may also face problems getting a job, especially if you’re looking for employment involving children or with a religious institution. This is because you’ll have a criminal record and a public lewdness conviction will come up on a background check done by a potential employer. With a permanent criminal record, you can also have issues with visitation or custody of your own children as well as problems renting property. In some cases, you can lose a professional license, or have it temporarily suspended.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of rights or opportunities that could potentially be lost if you are found guilty of public lewdness:
This is why it’s important to have a good defense attorney who can work hard to help you battle back against this charge. Even if the evidence against you is strong, the Law Offices of Paul Schiffer will put together a case to help you work out a deal to limit these additional ramifications as much as possible.
While most sex crimes will require you to register as a sex offender, public lewdness is not considered a “reportable conviction” according to Article 62.001(5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The only exception here is if you’re convicted of public lewdness involving someone under 17 years of age. In that case, you would have to register as a sex offender.
Usually, if a prosecutor is confident enough to pursue a public lewdness case, it means that they have clear evidence of the crime. While it’s difficult to get around this, all is not lost if you’re facing public lewdness charges.
For example, you have to knowingly be in public in order to be guilty of public lewdness. There is a chance that you believed you were on private property when engaging in a sexual act.
A defense could also be made if you weren’t actually engaging in a sex act. For example, maybe you were actually relieving yourself in the absence of an available restroom and someone mistakenly claimed you were engaged in a sex act. Or maybe you were playing a prank on a friend that was taken out of context or went too far. In that case, there was no intent for sexual arousal or gratification. In these examples, you could face reduced charges that carry less severe punishments.
Based on the part of the public lewdness law regarding the audience of a sex act, a proper defense can be made saying that you assumed you took precautions to ensure privacy for said acts. For example, if you and your partner engaged in a sexual act outside on your property and were behind a privacy fence on your property and someone climbed up to look over the fence and claimed you were reckless in your acts, your defense attorney can make the case that you took steps to ensure privacy and were, therefore, not being reckless in your acts.
In any of these circumstances, the chances of you being able to work out a plea deal or having the charges dropped altogether are better than they’d be if you were facing a felony charge. In our experience, prosecutors are more willing to work out deals with our attorneys for misdemeanors.
You should never fight a charge of public lewdness alone. If you or someone you love is being accused of this crime, call our firm immediately. Our sex crimes team has over 45 years of combined defense experience, and has successfully defended public lewdness cases before. We know what it takes to protect your rights.
It is also important that you have a defense attorney who will treat you with respect despite the charges against you. At the Schiffer Law Firm, you will be welcomed openly and treated with dignity from the moment you contact us. We know that these are difficult times, and we will handle your case sensitively to make sure that you get through the process with the best possible result. Don’t wait any longer. The sooner you get in touch with us, the sooner we can begin to build your defense.
That’s a great question, but you won’t find the answer here. While there is nothing inherently secret about a great defense, some attorneys are simply better prepared, more creative, and more experienced than others. It’s that combination that makes our sex crimes defense team so successful in defending these cases. A professional sports team, or an army preparing for battle, doesn’t disclose its strategy to the opposition. It is only through a confidential, in-person, meeting with our attorneys, where your information is protected by the attorney-client privilege and away from any prying wire taps or snooping law enforcement investigators, that we will discuss potential strategies that are tailored specifically for you.
Call today to set up a confidential in-office or virtual meeting.
The first thing you need to do is accept the situation. You have been charged with a crime, and yes, this is really happening. Having worked with thousands of clients throughout our attorneys’ careers, we understand thoroughly the storm of emotions that you may be feeling right now. Accepting the situation you are in will allow you to make rational decisions moving forward.
Now that you’ve accepted the reality of your situation, it is imperative that you maintain a clear head and stay in control of your emotions. In far too many situations, we see clients betrayed by their emotions which negatively impacts their own defense. Panic, anxiety, and second-guessing everything is the soil where bad legal strategy and decision making grows.
If you find yourself stressing about your situation, do what you can to calm yourself down. If you find that you need to talk with someone, please call us. We’ll discuss what’s going on and help you get a clear picture of your situation.