Because both involve offending some person(s), indecent exposure and public lewdness are easily interchanged by mistake. Public lewdness, however, necessarily involves at least two people while indecent exposure applies to an individual actor.
The Texas Penal Code dictates:
A person commits an offense if he exposes his anus or any part of his genitals with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, and he is reckless about whether another is present who will be offended or alarmed by his act.
The State’s prosecution of indecent exposure cases is often taken more seriously than public lewdness. While the majority of public lewdness cases involve teenagers who need more parental supervision, the most common examples of indecent exposure are urinating in public, mooning, flashing, and female breast exposure (think sunbathing—a mother breastfeeding her child in public is not considered indecent exposure). These acts can be taken as predatory behavior because they require an unwilling observer, and as such, they are treated in a much different manner than public lewdness cases.
Often, cops will go undercover into adult movie cinemas. The argument in these cases can often come down to whether or not the action was actually reckless and the fact that it was likely not predatory behavior. Paul Doyle has had success in getting these types of cases dismissed.
An individual charged with an indecent exposure offense faces a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine not more than $2,000. If this is the person’s second or subsequent offense then the charge is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up one year in jail and/or up to a $4,000 fine. Further, a second conviction mandates the person to register as a sex offender for 10 years after completing either a jail sentence or probation. However, if a child is present when the act of exposure occurs, the charge is raised to a third-degree felony.
Even though the charge is a misdemeanor it is still considered a sex crime, which carries harsher collateral consequences than most misdemeanors. Collateral consequences for a conviction of indecent exposure can include:
- A criminal record;
- An inability to apply for certain jobs;
- The inability to obtain most state professional license;
- Public humiliation;
- A refusal to be admitted to certain college or graduate school programs;
- Difficulty in obtaining any type of employment; and/or
- Difficulty in renting an apartment or home
Defenses to indecent exposure can vary depending on the case. There may be witnesses that can testify something different occurred. The State’s burden is to prove that not only was there some exposure, but also that it was done “recklessly” and with intent to arouse or gratify.
Paul has both prosecuted and defended several indecent exposure cases and is not afraid to take the case to trial and force the State to make their case. Even if you believe your case to be straight forward, there are generally several issues that are difficult for the State to prove. Contact Paul Doyle, an experienced sex crime attorney, and get your case evaluated.