Don’t Let the Heat of the Moment Turn Into an Open Lewdness Charge

Posted on February 3rd, 2021

We’ve all seen the cheesy romantic comedies of the young lovers caught up in the moment only to find themselves in an incriminating situation, almost always in a public place. But did you know that these depictions of parking lot rendezvous can actually be considered open lewdness?

Under Pennsylvania criminal code, a person commits open lewdness, a misdemeanor of the third degree, if he or she does any lewd act which he or she knows is likely to be observed by others who would be affronted or alarmed. This can be punishable by up to one year in prison.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, don’t let the heat of the moment turn into an open lewdness charge.

Pennsylvania Legal Precedent on Open Lewdness Charges: Com. v. Tiffany, 2007

As one of the more commonly cited cases of open lewdness amongst other charges, the case Com. v. Tiffany, 926 A.2d 503 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2007) Superior Court of Pennsylvania reviewed the charges of 44-year-old Keith Tiffany, who on May 18, 2004, was found by police swimming naked in a quarry with three males, ages 19, 15, and 13. Tiffany admitted that he had been taking nude photographs of the group. He was charged with sexual abuse of children, possession of instruments of crime, indecent exposure, corruption of minors, defiant trespass, unlawful contact with minors, and open lewdness.

The court ruled the following:

  • “Lewd” acts involve “sexuality or nudity in public.” This involves public nudity or public sexuality, and represents such a gross departure from accepted community standards as to rise to the level of criminal liability.
  • Taking part in nude activities in public settings is often enough to show “affront or alarm” was caused.
  • A “prohibited sexual act” includes “lewd exhibition of the genitals or nudity if such nudity is depicted for the purpose of sexual stimulation or gratification of any person who might view such depiction.”

While swimming in a quarry naked with minors is an extreme charge, there are some acts that can constitute open lewdness that you may not realize–even when it is deemed consensual:

  • Sunbathing in the nude in what was thought to be a private area but can be seen from a public space.
  • Performing lewd acts inside your home, in front of a window readily viewed by the public.

Legal Options If You Face an Open Lewdness Charge

Be it an honest mistake, or a heat of the moment incident gone wrong, knowing your legal options if you face an open lewdness charge can be critically important in order to avoid a sex-related charge on your record.

A criminal defense attorney will be able to work with you to establish a defense which may include:

  • Lack of intent to conduct a lewd act.
  • Lack of witnesses.
  • You did not know your actions would offend or alarm the people who were present.
  • You may have believed you were not in a public place. (Such as in your home in a viewable window).
  • Insufficient evidence.

Mistakes happen, but if you are charged with open lewdness, be sure to call a criminal defense attorney right away.

The Heat of the Moment Turned Open Lewdness Charge

If you are charged with open lewdness, do not handle the charges alone. You likely feel embarrassed and do not know who to trust. But the Scranton criminal defense attorney, Craig Kalinoski, can help. Contact us today by calling (570) 207-4000 or use our contact form today to schedule an appointment and discuss your case during a free consultation. Your future depends on it.

Category: Criminal Charges

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Craig Kalinoski
Craig Kalinoski

Craig P. Kalinoski is a respected attorney serving clients in Scranton, Pennsylvania. With a focus on Family Law, Criminal Defense, and Civil Rights, he has established himself as a top-rated legal professional. Recognized as a Rising Star and admired by peers, Craig's commitment to excellence sets him apart in the legal field.


We fight for the rights of our clients in a wide spectrum of practice areas, ranging from criminal defense to family law and personal injury.

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