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Criminal law is full of terms that are challenging to understand. Nevada’s laws are no different, including the difference between “open and gross lewdness” vs. “open or gross lewdness.” While the terms may sound similar, only one is a criminal offense under Nevada law. That’s why the team at the Law Office of Joel M. Mann put together this guide to explain the difference between these two terms.

What Does Open or Gross Lewdness Mean?

“Open or gross lewdness” is a crime under section 201.210 of the Nevada Revised Statutes. “Open and gross lewdness” is not mentioned in the section of the NRS that concerns obscenity and related crimes.

The term “open” means that you have done something where others could see it. However, the prosecution does not have to show that anyone actually did see it. Open or gross lewdness means there is some type of behavior that would likely offend a reasonable person.

The crime of open or gross lewdness is often charged when you have:

  • Exposed your genitals in public
  • Performed or simulated sexual acts in public
  • Performed a non-consensual sexual activity that does not meet the definition of sexual assault

What Are Examples of Gross Lewdness?

Some examples of open or gross lewdness include:

  • Having sex with your partner in public or in an area of your home that’s visible to the public, such as in front of an open window
  • Exposing your genitals in public
  • Masturbating in front of other people on public transportation
  • Touching someone’s breasts or genitals without their permission

One important caveat to Nevada’s lewdness law is that breastfeeding a child is not considered lewdness.

Can You Go to Jail for Lewdness?

Depending on the facts of your particular case, you could go to jail for lewdness. If it’s a first offense, lewdness is generally considered a gross misdemeanor. Even then, the potential penalties for a lewdness conviction include up to one year in jail, up to $2,000 in fines, and having to register as a sexual offender. It’s also important to note that performing sexual acts in public in the presence of a minor or someone who is disabled automatically makes the offense a felony instead of a misdemeanor, meaning the penalties are harsher.

If the defendant has a prior sex conviction or has been previously convicted of lewdness, the crime is considered a Class D felony. The potential penalties are much harsher, including 1-4 years in prison and having to register as a sexual offender.

If you’ve been accused of open or gross lewdness, you need to talk to a criminal defense attorney right away. Call the Law Office of Joel M. Mann today or visit our contact page for a confidential case review.

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