What You Need to Know About Indecent Exposure

Laws surrounding indecent exposure make it a crime for any person to knowingly and purposefully display their genitals in public, especially when it offends or alarms other people. While indecent exposure is usually committed for sexual gratification or in an attempt to entice a sexual response, embarrassing acts such as public urination, inadvertent public sex acts or other displays of nudity in public can result in criminal charges. Here’s what you need to know.

Components of Indecent Exposure

A prosecutor must be able to provide evidence that shows someone has committed the act of indecent exposure, beyond any reasonable doubt. In most circumstances, the components of indecent exposure include:

  • Showing of the private body parts: This includes the genitals of a man or a woman. The exposure of the buttocks is not classified as indecent exposure in Massachusetts.
  • Willful exposure: The person accused of indecent exposure must have had the intention of exposing their private parts to another person.
  • Exposure in a public place: Outdoor areas and businesses, whether they’re publicly or privately owned, are considered public places. Exposure inside of a bedroom, outside of the view of the public, may not classify as indecent.
  • Exposure in front of someone else: To be guilty of indecent exposure, there must be at least one other person within sight when the person exposed themselves.

Indecent Exposure Punishment

In Massachusetts, indecent exposure is considered a misdemeanor and the penalties include:

  • A fine of up to $200 and a maximum of 6 months in jail
  • A fine of up to $300 and no more than 3 years in prison (if the offense is upgraded to “open and gross lewdness”)
  • Possible required registration as a sex offender
  • Probation

Defenses for Indecent Exposure

Not all indecent exposure is criminal. As with any other crime, a person convicted of indecent exposure may be able to argue against it with the help of an experienced defense attorney. Defenses include:

  • No indecent exposure occurred: Exposure of the genital area, pubic hair, buttocks or female breasts is not considered indecent exposure (but it could be considered open and gross lewdness if it is done to produce alarm or shock)
  • Consent: If a person consents to the nudity, it may not be indecent exposure.
  • No sexual motivation: People who expose themselves may do it without the intent to arouse gratification or sexual desire. A common example would be urinating in public.
  • Lack of intent: If a person accidently exposes themselves through a hotel window, which is meant to be private, it may not be considered indecent.

If you have been arrested for indecent exposure, please contact our Boston criminal defense lawyer at Brad Bailey Law. Call (617) 500-0252 or contact us online today to learn more about your available defenses.

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