While a little “peck” may not be a big deal, if a couple takes their zest for each other too far in public, they could be arrested and criminally charged in Texas. It doesn’t matter if a couple is laying on a beach, kissing in a bar, dancing too closely at a nightclub, or showing their affection for each other on top of their boat on a beautiful summer day – when two people take their affections overboard in public, they can be charged with Public Lewdness under Section 21.07 of the Texas Penal Code. What is Public Lewdness exactly? Under Sec. 21.07, a person is guilty of the offense if he or she knowingly does any of the following in public:
- Engages in an “act” of sexual contact
- Engages in sexual intercourse
- Engages in deviate sexual intercourse
- Engages in a sexual contact or conduct with an animal or fowl
A person also commits the offense of Public Lewdness if he or she engages in any of the above and they are reckless about whether someone who is present may be alarmed or offended by their behavior.
Penalties for Public Lewdness
Public Lewdness is a Class A misdemeanor under Sec. 21.07(b). Under Sec. 12.21 of the Texas Penal Code, a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000, or by up to one year in jail, or by a fine and imprisonment. Even though Public Lewdness is technically a misdemeanor, there is nothing minor about being convicted. You have to think about the long-term consequences: Can you afford to pay up to a $4,000 fine? What would happen to you, your family, and your job if you were sent to jail? A conviction means more than fines and imprisonment, it also leads to a permanent criminal record, which would affect your employment opportunities for years to come. Can you imagine having to explain your Public Lewdness conviction to potential employers at job interviews? For these reasons and more, it’s worth fighting your Public Lewdness charge!