Indecent Exposure Laws

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Public Sexual Indecency & Indecent Exposure Laws

Indecent exposure and public sexual indecency are related laws that penalize offenders for offensive, alarming, or nonconsensual exposure of their private body parts or sexual acts. If you face allegations that you violated indecent exposure laws, you can speak to a criminal defense attorney’s team about your options.

You could clear your name or reduce the charges you face following this incident. However, trying to handle this on your own may prove challenging. You likely want a solid criminal defense attorney to protect your reputation during this process.

Understanding the Sexual Indecency and Indecent Exposure Law


It is illegal to purposefully expose others to sexual body parts or acts unless you have their approval and they can legally consent as adults. Depending on the details of the violation, you may face charges for the following:

Indecent Exposure

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Indecent exposure occurs when someone exposes their private body parts to another person or group. Nothing criminal happens unless the other person is a minor or might reasonably experience offense or alarm by seeing the exposed body part. The specifics of these laws may vary by state, however.

Indecent exposure may involve revealing a person’s:

  • Genitals
  • Anus
  • Areola or nipple, if they are female (excluding while breastfeeding)

Many people may think of mooning or flashing someone as a teenage rite of passage, a silly joke, or a prank. However, you could face severe consequences if you expose yourself to a minor or a victim becomes offended. In addition, those with repeated convictions could face additional, harsher penalties.

Public Sexual Indecency

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Public sexual indecency laws say that you cannot allow others to see you engage in sexual acts without their consent. If a reasonable person might feel offended by witnessing the action, you could face charges. Additional consequences exist for repeat offenders and when the case involves minor victims.

The acts covered by public sexual indecency laws may include:

  • Sexual contact, including with oneself
  • Oral sex
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Bestiality

If you plan to engage in any public sex act, you must carefully consider who can see. Recklessly allowing a child, teen, or even another adult to witness it could lead to significant legal trouble.

Penalties for a Conviction of Indecent Exposure or Public Sexual Indecency

An arrest for indecency can affect your everyday life, work, and relationships. Facing these allegations can feel hard enough. However, if you do not fight to defend yourself, you could also face harsh sentencing. Some people go to jail or prison and pay large fines because of indecent exposure or public sexual indecency.

The penalties you face if convicted could cause even more harm to your career, social life, future goals, and reputation. Hiring an attorney can help you avoid a conviction, reduce the charges against you, clear your name, or reduce the chances of serious consequences related to these allegations.

Indecent Exposure Charges and Possible Sentences

If convicted of indecent exposure, you could face a Class 1 misdemeanor, depending on the jurisdiction. A Class 1 misdemeanor usually constitutes a relatively minor crime, although a conviction can still disrupt your life, cost you your job, and hurt your reputation.

The penalties associated with a Class 1 misdemeanor conviction include:

  • Time in jail
  • Fines
  • Multiple years of probation

The judge hearing the case will decide whether the offender needs to register as a sex offender based on what happened and how it harmed the victims.

Your exact penalties will vary based on the details of your case and your state’s laws. For instance, Arizona law treats the situation much differently when the victim is under the age of 15. An indecent exposure conviction with a minor victim generally leads to a Class 6 felony. This could strip you of some of your rights, and you could face other serious consequences.

The sentence for a Class 6 felony conviction could include:

  • Four months to two years in prison
  • Fines of up to $150,000
  • Probation, up to a lifetime
  • Mandatory lifetime sex offender registration if the judge orders it

Penalties for a Public Sexual Indecency Conviction

Public sexual indecency may result in a more serious crime, depending on the victim’s age. For instance, when the victim is 15, the courts may charge this as a Class 1 misdemeanor crime. A conviction could mean time in jail, fines, and probation. In addition, some judges require sex offender registration, depending on the circumstances.

When the victim is under age 15, the courts could charge this as a felony—a much more serious crime.

A conviction could call for sentencing that includes:

  • Several years in prison
  • Probation
  • Sex offender registration
  • Thousands of dollars in fines

How Can an Indecent Exposure Attorney Help?

Trying to navigate the criminal justice system alone can lead to unnecessary mistakes. You may not know of many factors that could greatly affect the outcome of your case. Additionally, you have so much on the line for your future, and mistakes can prove costly.

Many people view a criminal defense lawyer as someone who organizes the case’s facts and tells the story in court. While this is true, they do much more work for a defendant. Much of the work takes place behind closed doors. Many cases never go to trial at all. Instead, the attorney negotiates a better outcome for their client, and they never go before the jury.

Hiring an attorney brings many benefits for the client. This could include:

Insight Into the Crime and Case

Your attorney will listen closely to your account of what happened, review the reports from police officers, and uncover other available evidence to help them understand what happened. This allows them to identify factors that could help clear your name, reduce the charges against you, or make other advantageous moves in the case.

Once they have the facts and understand what happened, they can organize the evidence in a way that highlights your character, career, and other positive factors while mitigating any negative claims against you.

They could have experience with similar cases or even identify legal strategies that force the prosecution to drop the charges. When you enlist their help early enough, you might avoid facing charges if the circumstances support it.

Knowledge of the Legal System

Every case involves numerous legal concepts that must work together. A criminal defense attorney protects their client’s rights and ensures the police, prosecutors, and courts all act accordingly. Any of these entities’ mistakes could get evidence thrown out or cause them to drop the case against you.

Even when no one violated your rights, your attorney knows the criminal justice system inside and out. They understand the small details that could affect your case significantly. They can pay close attention to these details, especially when your career, reputation, and freedom are on the line.

Your attorney also knows how the process works. This includes when you must appear in court and what happens there. Defendants can benefit from knowing what to expect next in the case. It helps to reduce stress and makes this frustrating and scary process easier.

Essential Negotiation Skills

Lawyers train to negotiate. They know the tactics, approaches, and strategies that can help them reach an agreement with other parties without sacrificing their clients’ interests. This often proves key to a more optimistic outcome in a criminal case. For example, attorneys can negotiate to reduce charges, sentences, and jail time. In many situations, the best possible outcome means a reduced charge that comes with no jail time or a reduced sentence.

Access to Resources and Evidence

In some cases, your attorney can gain access to evidence you cannot. For example, imagine the incident that led to your arrest outside a busy fuel stop. The gas station likely has surveillance video, but they will not release it to you. Your attorney can approach the managers and persuade them to turn over the evidence.

Your lawyer also has access to resources you likely do not. This could include experts, tools, and more. For example, your firm likely has a network of medical and other field experts they frequently call on to testify for their clients. You could hire an expert in your case who can explain that your indecent exposure was for a medical reason or occurred due to a mental health concern.

Building a Defense Against Indecent Exposure Allegations

In any criminal case, the prosecution has the burden of proving you committed the crime. The prosecutor has the burden to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That means they need strong evidence to show you met the criteria to face the charges and receive a conviction. Your attorney can work with the case’s facts to develop a strong defense against the accusations against you.

For a public sexual indecency conviction, the prosecution must show that you:

  • Acted intentionally or knowingly
  • Committed a sexual act, including oral sex, intercourse, or bestiality
  • Were reckless about whether another person was present
  • Acted in a way that a reasonable person would find offensive

For an indecent exposure conviction, the evidence must confirm that you:

  • Acted intentionally or knowingly
  • Exposed your genitals, anus, or breasts
  • Were reckless about others in the area
  • Acted in a way that a reasonable person would find offensive

Common Defenses in Criminal Cases

Your lawyer could defend you through numerous arguments.

They could include:

  • You did not receive your Miranda rights.
  • The police subjected you to an illegal search.
  • The police questioned you after you asked for a lawyer.
  • You did not act intentionally or knowingly.
  • You had no way of knowing others observed your actions.
  • You did not commit the act you stand accused of.
  • There is another explanation for your actions.

The defense strategy in your case depends greatly on the circumstances and case facts. Your attorney can review all details of the event and develop an approach that gives you the best opportunity for a positive outcome in your case.

In many situations, an attorney can help a client reduce the charges they face, negotiate a sentencing deal for less jail time, or take other similar actions. For example, reducing a public sexual indecency case to an indecent exposure charge or having the court pursue misdemeanor charges instead of felony charges could greatly improve the outcome.

Take the Next Steps in Your Indecent Exposure or Public Sexual Indecency Case

​Indecent Exposure Laws, Omer Gurion

If the police arrest you or accuse you of public sexual indecency or indecent exposure, you may want an attorney on your side as soon as possible. From the time of your arrest, you have key rights you want to protect. Ask for an attorney immediately, or have your family contact a firm to represent you. You do not have to answer police questions without representation.

If you already face charges, your attorney can go to work developing a strategy and approach to your case. First, they can investigate and analyze the evidence, including discussing what happened with you. Then, they can use the information they gather to determine your next steps.

Most importantly, your attorney can provide you with advice, guidance, and emotional support throughout the criminal justice process. You can have an advocate on your side to protect your rights, fight for your best interests, and help you through this difficult time.

Gurion Legal, PLLC Office Location

4323 N 12th St Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85014
Phone: 480-800-0020

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