On January 3, 2017, Attorney Bradford R. Stanton and two other skilled criminal defense lawyers not only helped their client get an open and gross lewdness conviction reversed in Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, but the decision also redefined the state law distinguishing the misdemeanor indecent exposure from the felony open and gross lewdness.

The defendant was charged with open and gross lewdness and resisting arrest after a police officer followed him taking a couple of trains and witnessed the defendant briefly expose himself while facing several women sitting on a platform bench a few feet away. The main point of contention in the case was meeting all the elements of open and gross lewdness.

In order to be convicted, the following elements must be met:

  1. The defendant exposed his/her genitals, buttocks, or breasts
  2. The defendant intentionally exposed himself/herself
  3. The defendant committed the act openly or with reckless disregard of public exposure
  4. The defendant committed the act to cause alarm or shock
  5. The defendant’s actions alarmed or shocked one or more persons

Although the defendant’s actions met the first four requirements for a conviction, the court believed the officer’s reaction to the act did not qualify as alarm or shock. Additionally, the officer observed the defendant well before the incident occurred and immediately attempted to make an arrest as part of his job, rather than demonstrate any form of alarm or shock.

The SJC concluded that the open and gross lewdness requires a much more serious act and strong negative emotions, instead of mere disgust or nervousness. By contrast, conviction for indecent exposure requires only an intentional act of lewd exposure that offender one or more individuals.

Attorney Stanton and the rest of the legal team at Gens & Stanton, P.C. are committed to protecting the rights and freedom of our clients facing complex and serious criminal charges – and are not afraid to fight for them in court. If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime in Boston, contact us today at (617) 206-4675 and request a free consultation.

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