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Open and Gross Lewd and Lascivious Behavior

Open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior is proscribed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 Section 16.  This type of behavior includes the deliberate exposure of buttocks, genitalia or female breasts.

To convict a defendant of this offense, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:

  1. Exposed her/his buttocks, genitals or female breasts to one or more persons;
  2. Did so intentionally;
  3. Did so openly, meaning that he/she either intended exposure to the public or had a reckless disregard for a substantial risk of public exposure. "Openly" only refers to the intent that the act be witnessed by the unwilling. It does not necessarily mean and does not require that the behavior take place in a public locale;
  4. Did so in a way to produce shock or distress; and
  5. Actually caused one or more persons shock or distress because of the exposure.

Charges of open and gross lewd and lascivious behavior often involve public masturbation. The law is designed to punish those who impose lewdness on unwilling people, and it does not apply to constitutionally protected expressions. It also does not apply to sexual acts that take place in an area where one can reasonably expect privacy. For example, if another person accidentally sees you engaging in a sex act through the window of your home, this would likely not amount to open and gross lewd and lascivious behavior. Indecent exposure, which is a crime under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 S53, is a lesser included offense of open and gross lewdness.


If you are convicted of this offense, you face imprisonment in the state prison for up to three years or in jail for up to two years or a fine of up to $300. As such, it is a felony that is significantly more serious than the misdemeanor of indecent exposure.

Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney

Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer Stephen Neyman has handled numerous cases involving open and gross lewdness over the course of more than 20 years. He knows exactly how to defend against these kinds of charges, and as a former prosecutor, he also has invaluable insight into how district attorneys will approach such cases. With Attorney Neyman on your side, you will absolutely have the best representation possible.

Tough Criminal Defense Tempered by Reason

Attorney Neyman is a tough lawyer who fights aggressively in all cases. He uses every strategy and the full extent of his capabilities to attack the charges that threaten his clients' futures. As an intuitive individual, he also knows how to approach people and situations in ways that will benefit his clients.

Excellence Reflected in Results

Attorney Neyman encourages prospective clients to browse his case results page, as he feels that his results mirror the superior work that he does.

Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, P.C. 617-263-6800

At the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, P.C., Attorney Neyman and his staff of talented professionals are committed to safeguarding the rights of those accused of crimes in Massachusetts. Call Attorney Neyman's office at 617-263-6800 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or contact him online.

Case Results » Open and Gross Lewd and Lascivious Behavior
  • Charges of Open and Gross Lewdness Against Electrician Do Not Issue After Clerk Magistrate Hearing

    Our client is an electrician working on residential and commercial projects. Many of his jobs require a background check and any criminal history results in his inability to work on that job. In September of 2021 a female college student flagged down a police officer and complained that a man in a parked car pulled out his penis and began to masturbate in front of her. The police approached the vehicle and made contact with the driver. The victim made a positive identification and the man was interrogated. He admitted to doing what the woman claimed he did. He later received a summons for a clerk magistrate hearing seeking to charge him with open and gross lewdness in violation of G.L. c. 272 section 16, a felony in Massachusetts. We appeared and defended the man at the hearing. Our presentation convinced the clerk not to issue the complaint. Instead, it will be held for a period of time and dismissed provided that the man not get into any criminal legal trouble. 

    Read More in Open and Gross Lewdness

  • Charges of Open and Gross Lewdness Public Masturbation to be Dismissed

    In December of 2021, after some frantic banging on a window and door, a woman looked out of the window and observed a man masturbating aggressively. She called the police. The responding officers obtained a description of the man and located him a block away at a bar. A show up identification was made and the man was positively identified. He was charged with open and gross lewdness under G.L. c. 272 section 16. This is a felony in Massachusetts and can serve a a predicate to an obligation to register as a sex offender. Our office had the man evaluated by a forensic psychologist whose report convinced the judge to agree with our request to impose a continuance without a finding (CWOF). All charges against the man will be dismissed in a few months provided he remains free of all criminal legal troubles. 

    Read More in Sex Crimes 

  • Pre-Arraignment Diversion For Investment Analyst Charged With Open and Gross Lewdness

    Earlier this year a woman and her daughter were getting coffee in a Dunkin Donuts adjacent to a major highway. When the left the store to enter their car they observed a young man masturbating while seated in his car in broad daylight. The women immediately called 911. The driver quickly left the parking lot. They gave the police the man's license plate and a description of him. The police located the man and obtained a very detailed confession. They then arrested the man and charged him with open and gross lewdness, a felony under G.L. c. 272 section 16. Attorney Neyman was immediately hired. We moved the arraignment back several months to get an evaluation for our client from a forensic psychologist. The evaluation convinced the district attorney's office that our client was not a danger to the community, rather he suffered from depression stemming from anxiety during the COVID pandemic. Pre-arraignment diversion under G.L. c. 276A was agreed to. After successfully completing the young adult diversion program all charges against our client were dismissed prior to arraignment. 

    Read More in Sex Crimes

Client Reviews
"We went to trial and won. He saved me fifteen years mandatory in state prison for this case." A.C. Boston, Massachusetts
"I hired him and he got the case dismissed before I had to go into a courtroom. My school never found out and if they had I would have lost my academic scholarships. He really saved my college career." Melissa C. Cold Spring, New York, October 2013
"My union rep told me to call Steve Neyman. From the get go I felt comfortable with him. He took the time to talk to me about my case whenever I needed .... He even gave me his personal cell number and took all my calls. We won the case and I kept my job." Bart L. S.
"The best criminal defense lawyer in Massachusetts. Takes all of his client's calls at any time of the day or night. He was always there for me and my family. Steve saved my life." Jacquille D. Brockton, Massachusetts
"In less than two months Stephen Neyman got my old conviction vacated. I now have no criminal record." Paul W. Boston, Massachusetts