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Conduct that is indecent, obscene, or lascivious. The term is commonly used in statutes to refer to pornography, prostitution, indecent exposure, and other sexual conduct. For example:

  • In New York, “[a] person is guilty of public lewdness when he or she intentionally exposes the private or intimate parts of his or her body in a lewd manner or commits any other lewd act: (a) in a public place, or (b) (i) in private premises under circumstances in which he or she may readily be observed from either a public place or from other private premises, and with intent that he or she be so observed, or (ii) while trespassing . . . in a dwelling . . . under circumstances in which he or she is observed by a lawful occupant.”
  • In California, “a person who willfully and lewdly commits any lewd or lascivious act . . . upon or with the body, or any part or member thereof, of a child who is under the age of 14 years, with the intent of arousing, appealing to, or gratifying the lust, passions, or sexual desires of that person or the child, is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.”
  • In Massachusetts, “[e]very building, part of a building, tenement or place used for prostitution, assignation or lewdness, and every place within or upon which acts of prostitution, assignation or lewdness are held or occur, shall be deemed a nuisance.”

[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]