Indecent exposure is a felony and carries from 30 days to 10 years in prison, up to $20,000 in fines, and sex offender registration for 15 years.
It is okay if you just had to re-read that sentence. The shock and confusion is justified. Most of my clients who come in with this charge pending have no idea of the range of punishment, and they are just as shocked. Honestly, some even think at first I am just making it up to scare them and create a false sense of urgency. By the time we have finished the first meeting and we have reviewed the law, they are confident in the advice, but still amazed what they are looking at as far as punishment.
What Actions Could Result in Your Arrest for Indecent Exposure?
Indecent exposure covers lots of conduct from the ubiquitous trench coat flasher, to the client masturbating in a movie theater, park bench, public bathroom, etc., to a couple engaging in a consensual sexual act in a public place or other place where people are present and can be annoyed or offended (sex in a car), to any other type and place of exposure of your genitals/privates designed to excite the sexual senses/desires of yourself or others.
Indecent exposure includes so many different acts and occurrences that people from all walks of life, all ages, genders, education level, religions, and backgrounds can be charged with this offense.
You do not even need to do anything to be charged. What? If someone thought they saw you exposed in public, that is enough. Ridiculous but true. The number of cases where someone swears they saw an individual exposed only to discover later they did not or could not have actually observed what they thought they saw is disturbing and troubling. It’s also troubling that the DA would even file a charge so casually with only the word of a passerby. It’s disturbing how little effort law enforcement put into investigating these charges, and disturbing how devastating the allegation is to the accused.
What Should You Do If You Are Charged With Indecent Exposure?
The charge is defensible in a great many cases, and certainly those cases without video evidence supporting the allegation and without a confession or statement to law enforcement by the defendant provide the greatest opportunities for success.
Details are extremely important in these cases. I will need to explore the story—your story—and the facts of the incident multiple times. The analysis starts there, with you, and only then moves on to reviewing and dissecting the police reports, videos, witness statements, to visiting the scene, taking measurements, etc.
Save everything you can about the incident. Maybe you can’t get into see me right away. In preparation for meeting with me, write down what happened, everything and every detail to include witness names, locations, statements, time, weather, etc. UNLESS you did it, then DO NOT put anything in writing, ever. Put the words “Attorney Work Product” at the top of everything you write. You are writing this in anticipation of litigation and to provide to your lawyer at his request.
In a high percentage of these cases the complexity of defending an indecent exposure charge can be the same as a rape or lewd molestation case. The stigma of a sex crime is still present. The jury will still demand the defendant prove he is innocent, and that same jury will turn our judicial system on its head in a second, with little thought or reservation about the adverse effect or consequences.
So if you are like a good number of my clients that believed this is a “no worry” charge and that the worst you are looking at is probation, community service, or a small fine, you know better now. There is more to learn about your case for both of us. Call attorney Lee Berlin right away to schedule your initial client meeting and to have him start on developing and preserving your defense as quickly as possible.