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Taking a Closer Look at Indecent Exposure Laws

March 9, 2018

Some areas of the law are prone to causing misunderstandings and unexpected consequences, and indecent exposure is a prime example. When you think of indecent exposure, you might picture a malicious figure flashing crowds from behind a trench coat, but most real-life examples are a little less cartoonish—and often unintended. Knowing a little more about the law can keep you from getting caught up in charges caused by a silly mistake, so read on to arm yourself with some helpful information.

What constitutes indecent exposure?
In Arizona and many other states, there is a broad definition for indecent exposure: Intentionally exposing private parts when another person is present. Of course, context is important here, because nudity within a consensual sexual relationship or in a public area such as a locker room would not be considered inappropriate or unlawful. There is also an exception for breastfeeding in public, as this action is not associated with any malicious or sexual intention. However, seemingly harmless actions such as urinating in public may be considered indecent exposure, if someone sees it and is offended by the action.

What are the penalties?
Penalties for indecent exposure can vary, depending on the type of exposure and the age of the witness. If someone under the age of 15 witnesses indecent exposure, the accused will be charged with a class 6 felony. Other cases will carry misdemeanor charges, which can still be serious. Penalties include up to 6 months in jail, fines exceeding $2,500, and probation of up to 3 years, possibly including counseling.

What are the lasting consequences?
The punishments above may only be part of the consequences you can expect with indecent exposure charges, since some cases may result in being added to the sex offender registry, such as when a minor is involved. This can have a lifelong impact on your employment and housing eligibility, as well as your public reputation and personal life.

If you are facing any type of criminal charges in Southern Arizona, know that the outcome could be serious, so you will want to have an experienced criminal lawyer on your side. Janet Altschuler can provide the aggressive, experienced representation you need, so call (520) 247-1789 to schedule a consultation where you can discuss your case.