Lewd and Lascivious Behavior in Wisconsin

By Reddin & Singer

People Walking

If you have been charged with engaging in lewd and lascivious conduct, you need to hire an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney immediately. These types of charges are not only stressful but can ruin an individual’s reputation in his or her workplace and throughout the community.

Lewd is defined as indecent, obscene, and fraught with crude sexual desire. Under Wisconsin law, “lewd” behavior is considered a “crime against sexual morality.” “Lascivious” denotes expressing lust or zealous sexual desire. Lewd and lascivious conduct refers to unlawful conduct of an individual that is intended to arouse or cause sexual sensation in the self or another person, including acts such as open solicitation for prostitution or indecent exposure of one’s genitals in any public place or in a setting where it would be offensive to a reasonable person.

Under Wisconsin law, Section 944.20 of the Wisconsin Code, whoever does any of the following is guilty of Class A misdemeanor:

  • (a) commits an indecent act of sexual gratification with another with knowledge that they are in the presence of others; or
  • (b) publicly and indecently exposes genitals or pubic area.

The above does not apply to a mother breastfeeding her child. Put another way, a mother breastfeeding her child is not considered lewd and lascivious conduct. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has also held that public nudity per se is not lewd behavior.

The statute does not explicitly define ‘publicly.’ In Reichenberger v. Warren, the court held that ‘publicly’ can be interpreted to avoid constitutional over-breadth by applying it to circumstances where children are exposed to obscenity or the sensibilities of unwilling adults are offended.

In some cases, even if sexual activity is not meant to be on display for others, it can still result in a charge for lewd behavior. For example, having sex in a car where others can see can form the basis of a criminal charge.

Lewd behavior is a serious criminal offense and can carry hefty penalties. Depending on the specific circumstances of the case, the perpetrator could face jail time, probation, fines, sex offender registration, community service, required therapy, and more. For example, an individual charged with a Class A misdemeanor faces a fine of up to $10,000 and potentially up to nine months in prison.

If you or someone close to you is facing charges of lewd acts, you need to contact a qualified Milwaukee criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Reddin & Singer, we will help you build a comprehensive defense of your case. These allegations should not be taken lightly. There could be significant penalties associated with this crime if you are convicted. Our legal team believes that every individual deserves a fair trial. Please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at (414) 271-6400.