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Indecent Exposure

A defendant can be guilty of indecent exposure in one of two ways.  The first would be if s/he willfully exposes his or her genitals, with the intent of directing attention to their own genitals, with the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying himself or herself, in the presence of another person who may be offended. It is unnecessary that another person see the defendant’s exposed genitalia.  The most common example of this type of indecent exposure would be what is known as a “flasher”.


Indecent exposure can also be if a defendant exposes his or her own genitalia in the presence of another who might be annoyed, with the intent of arousing or annoying someone other than defendant.  Again, it is unnecessary that another person see the defendant’s exposed genitalia. This is a sex crime and in many states requires sex offender registration if convicted.  This is so even if the crime is charged as a misdemeanor. 


Any defense to this crime would lie in attacking the individual elements of the crime itself.  The most common element challenged is that the exposure was not for a sexual purpose, ie. a person was urinating in public; genitals would be exposed but were not exposed for the purpose of sexual gratification or annoying anyone.  Another way of attacking the crime would be showing that there was no intent to direct attention to one’s own genitalia because there was a belief no one was around.  This particular defense is not as strong because a jury will always question why anyone would expose himself or herself in public if they did not expect someone to see it. 


Elements, crimes and defenses vary from state to state and within the federal system.  If you or someone you know is charged with any crime, as always, you should consult a local attorney, licensed to practice in your jurisdiction and preferably one practicing only criminal law.  Considering the wide ranging consequences from conviction of any sex crime, special consideration should be given to having a lawyer experienced in not only criminal law but familiar with sex offender consequences.  You can always look for your local criminal attorney at

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