A Minnesota court in State v. Duncan concluded that behavior that is described as lewd and lascivious is another way of saying that the behavior is obscene. “Obscene behavior, conduct, or speech is not protected by the First Amendment and may be regulated.” Since behavior that is categorized as lewd and lascivious is not constitutionally protected, there are statutes in place that prohibit lewd and lascivious conduct. For example, Minnesota has a statute (Minn. Stat. § 617.23) that prohibits people from “engaging in public displays of lewd, lascivious, or other indecent behavior.” Under Minn. Stat. § 617.23, depending on the specific circumstances, someone can be charged with a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony for engaging “in any open or gross lewdness or lascivious behavior” in a public place or in a place where others are present.
[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]