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NY Penal Law § 245.03: Public lewdness in the first degree

A lewd act is a term used to describe any activity considered to be indecent when performed in public. A lewd act typically involves exposure of private or intimate parts to the public accompanied by behavior which is meant to provide sexual arousal. An example of lewd behavior is masturbating in public. Public could mean a park, bus, subway platform, library, beach, theater, or a public restroom. However, you can also be accused of lewd conduct if the act is at your house or in another private residence, but is observed from a public place or from other private residences. If you intentionally perform an act of public lewdness in the presences of a minor under the age of 16, then you will face a more serious charge.

Under New York Penal Law § 245.03 you could be charged with public lewdness in the first degree if you are at least 19 years old and you intentionally expose to a person who is less than 16 years old your private parts, such as your penis, buttocks, or vagina in a lewd manner in a public place such as a city street or on a public bus, or you do some sort of lewd act such as masturbation in front of someone who is less than 16 years old. You could also be prosecuted for public lewdness in the first degree if commit the crime of public lewdness after have been convicted of the same crime within the preceding year.


30-year-old Jose was charged with public lewdness in the first degree after he was observed rubbing his exposed penis and making groaning sounds in the middle of a park where children observed him.

Related Offenses
  1. Public lewdness: New York Penal Law § 245.00
  2. Exposure of a person: New York Penal Law § 245.01
  3. Promoting the exposure of a person: New York Penal Law § 245.02
  4. Offensive exhibition: New York Penal Law § 245.05

In order for you to be convicted of public lewdness in the first degree, you must have intentionally exposed yourself in public in the presence of minor under the age of 16. If your pants ripped, for example, resulting in you exposing yourself by accident, you would not have committed the crime of public lewdness. In addition, if you did not realize that young children were present, you may have a defense to a charge of public lewdness in the first degree. However, you still may be prosecuted for the lesser offense of public lewdness.


Public lewdness in the first degree is a class A misdemeanor. This means that if you are convicted your sentence could include a jail term of up to 1 year, a probation term of 3 years, and payment of a fine.

New York Penal Law § 245.03: Public lewdness in the first degree

A person is guilty of public lewdness in the first degree when:

  1. being nineteen years of age or older and intending to be observed by a person less than sixteen years of age in a place described in subdivision (a) or (b) of § 245.00 of this article, he or she intentionally exposes the private or intimate parts of his or her body in a lewd manner for the purpose of alarming or seriously annoying such person, and he or she is thereby observed by such person in such place; or

  2. he or she commits the crime of public lewdness, as defined in § 245.00 of this article, and within the preceding year has been convicted of an offense defined in such § 245.00 or this section.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Even though public lewdness in the first degree is a misdemeanor and not a felony, it is still a crime. If you are convicted you could end up in jail. It is important that you are represented by someone with experience to ensure that your rights are protected. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been accused of public lewdness, indecent exposure, fondling, sex crimes and other criminal offenses. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of larceny in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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