The Utah lewd conduct statutes are some of the strictest in the United States.
In fact, both men and women are frequently arrested — and subsequently convicted — under these laws for behaviors that have nothing to do with sexual intent or conduct. Unfortunately, the idea of accidental crime won’t get you far with prosecutors.
Although the concept of someone exposing themselves is often made light of or joked about, these charges can have a profound effect on your reputation in the community and potentially land you on the sex offender registry.
Utah Lewd Conduct and Indecent Public Display Laws
Some examples of behavior that can be charged as lewd conduct include masturbation or having sexual intercourse in public; exposing the genitals, buttocks, anus or pelvic areas; or, for a woman, exposing the breast below the top of the areola.
Generally the statute attempts to focus on behavior motivated by lewdness. However, even seemingly innocuous behavior, such as changing your clothes in a place where you may be visible to others (such as in your car) may be considered a violation of this statute.
One area where Utah laws are progressive on this issue is breastfeeding. Breastfeeding in any location where a woman can rightfully be, whether or not the breast is covered incidental to feeding, does not constitute public indecency.
Potential Penalties for Lewdness and Indecent Exposure
Lewd conduct that does not involve a minor child is considered a Class B misdemeanor in Utah. Conviction can result in up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If you have two or more prior convictions or are currently registered as a sex offender, you will be charged with a third-degree felony which can result in fines of up to $5,000 and five years in prison.
Lewdness involving a child is considered a Class A misdemeanor in Utah, carrying a potential fine of up to $2,500, as much as one year in prison and the requirement to register as a sex offender for 10 years.
If you have been convicted of a prior offense, the charges will be increased to a third-degree felony.
Is Public Urination Considered Lewd Conduct in Utah?
You may have heard anecdotes of individuals caught urinating in public who were subsequently convicted and forced to register as sex offenders.
Technically, this could happen under the Utah public urination statutes if you urinate or defecate in a public place. The situation depends largely on the proximity of restroom facilities and the situation under which the act occurred.
In many cases, an experienced criminal defense attorney can argue that the biological imperative created a situation that served a legitimate purpose. If the individual had reasonable access to restroom facilities or made no effort to conceal him or herself, especially if children were present, the case may present a greater challenge.
The experienced lawyers of the Law Offices of White & Matern, PLLC are dedicated to your aggressive criminal defense. If you have been charged with lewdness or a related act, it is important that you contact an attorney as quickly as possible.
We specialize in the criminal defense of sex crimes, assault, drug possession and related offenses. With offices throughout the Salt Lake City, Utah, area, we are standing by to assist you.
Contact us today if you are facing charges for lewd conduct in Utah.