The general definition of “lewd” is crude or offensive in a sexual way, and that is essentially how Texas law defines public lewdness (TPC § 21.07). It is when an individual deliberately engages in certain sexual acts in public or in the presence of someone who will be offended or alarmed. These include sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, and sexually-explicit contact with another person, animal or fowl. Being convicted of public lewdness in Texas is a Class A misdemeanor, good for up to one year in prison or $4,000 in fine or both.
While it may not seem like a big deal, the fact that it is considered a misdemeanor means that it is a crime. It may not be a heavy hitter like a DWI (driving while intoxicated) charge in legal terms, although first-time offenders get off with a misdemeanor as well, but it is much more humiliating because public lewdness is a sex crime.
The key phrases in this charge are “knowingly engages,” “in public” and “another is present who will be offended or alarmed.” In some cases of public lewdness, the defendant was not aware that the location was considered a public place i.e. a private club, or that another person was an inadvertent witness to a private sexual act i.e. in a deserted beach.
As pointed out on the website of the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter, no one wants to be labeled as a sex criminal, especially when the sexual act or conduct was between two consenting adult humans. In any cases, public lewdness was not done with the requisite knowledge of the defendant, or it may not have happened at all. If you are charged with public lewdness, you should take it as seriously as a DWI or other criminal charges. Engage the services of a competent Texas criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to avoid a conviction.