The attorneys at Hyatt & Hyatt have experience in all levels of Sexual Offenses found within the Texas Penal Code. Public Lewdness is one of the few Sexual Offenses that is a misdemeanor and does not require Defendants to register as Sex Offenders. Section 21.07 of the Texas Penal Code defines Public Lewdness and copy of the statute can be found here.
A common-sense approach to the title of this offense leads one to believe that this offense is limited to exhibitionists or excessively hormonal teenagers, but a close reading of the statute reveals that this offense is much broader. Public Lewdness is not limited to public places. Individuals can be accused of Public Lewdness in the privacy of their own homes. Key concerns with this statute include (1) what kind of conduct is alleged and (2) where and under what circumstances said conduct was allegedly committed.
Types of Conduct that Fall Within Public Lewdness
With respect to the types of conduct that fall within Public Lewdness, the statute indicates that acts of Sexual Intercourse, Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Sexual Contact or “act(s) involving contact between the person’s mouth or genitals and the anus or genitals of an animal or fowl.”
Sexual Intercourse is defined by Section 21.01(3) of the Texas Penal Code as “any penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ.”
Deviate Sexual Intercourse is defined by Section 21.01(1) of the Texas Penal Code as “any contact between any part of the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person; or the penetration of the genitals or the anus of another person with an object.”
Sexual Contact is defined by Section 21.01(2) of the Texas Penal Code as “any touching of the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of another person with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person“ (with an exception for Indecency with a Child).
Circumstances Surrounding Acts that Meet the Definition of Public Lewdness
The next inquiry that must be made is where and under what circumstances the conduct is committed. If any of the above referenced acts are knowingly committed in a public place, the statutory requirements are met; however, even if said conduct was not committed in a public place, the statute indicates that if an individual knowingly commits one of these acts and is “reckless about whether another is present who will be offended or alarmed” the statutory requirements have been met.
The punishment range for Public Lewdness is that of a Class A misdemeanor. It is important to have representation in matters such as this. While this specific statute does not require registration as a Sex Offender, it still carries a stigma and can be a source of embarrassment. Depending on the case, sometimes, this is an outstanding outcome considering other more egregious allegations that the state can levy against citizens.