Is There a Defense Against Indecent Exposure? Read What Dallas Criminal Lawyer Says!
If you’ve been charged with indecent exposure, you are probably feeling a range of emotions, including embarrassment, worry, and maybe even outrage. Arguably, when most people think of an offense like indecent exposure, they picture a man in a trench coach in a busy city exposing himself to passersby. It’s not a pleasant image for anyone to contemplate.
In reality, an indecent exposure charge usually doesn’t originate from this stereotypical example. These types of charges can stem from behavior that seemed innocent at the time, such as someone sunbathing in their backyard, a well-intentioned but poorly planned prank, drunk behavior at a sporting event, or even someone getting locked out of their house under the worst possible circumstances.
The good news is that it’s possible to defend yourself against an indecent exposure charge. However, it’s important to work with an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer. This type of crime can seriously damage a person’s reputation, which is why it’s in an individual’s best interest to contact a defense lawyer at the Dallas Law Office of Attorney Clint Broden & Mick Mickelsen as soon as possible.
Indecent Exposure Under Texas Law
In Texas, the law makes it a crime for someone to “[expose] 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.”
Sometimes, people believe that an individual can only be charged with indecent exposure if they expose their naked body to a child or someone who is underage. However, this is inaccurate. In fact, a person can be charged with indecent exposure even when the audience is made up of adults.
Under Texas law, a person convicted of indecent exposure faces a Class B misdemeanor for a first offense, which is punishable by a maximum $2,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail.
However, the penalties for a second or subsequent offense are much stricter, and an individual can face a felony conviction if they have been previously convicted of indecent exposure. They may also be required to register as a sex offender.
Additionally, there are strict penalties for those who expose themselves to a child under the age of 17. With a case involving a minor, the person may also be required to register as a sex offender if they’re convicted.
Possible Defenses for Indecent Exposure
Being charged with indecent exposure can be a harrowing experience. If you’re facing this type of charge, it’s possible for your defense lawyer to raise a number of defenses. An experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer will work with you to create the best defense strategy for your unique situation.
- Lack of intent – With indecent exposure, the prosecution must show that the accused was reckless in their intent to expose themselves. This distinction is different from most crimes, which require a standard of “knowing” rather than “recklessness.” If the person didn’t intend to expose themselves, this is a defense to indecent exposure. For example, someone who was camping and left their tent in the middle of changing clothes because a wasp flew into the tent clearly didn’t intend to appear naked in public.
- Lack of capacity – If a person accused of indecent exposure has a mental illness or some kind of disability that prevents them from fully understanding the consequences of exposing themselves, this can be a defense to indecent exposure.
- Age – Age can sometimes be a mitigating factor in an indecent exposure case. The court might impose a more lenient penalty if the accused is very young and made a bad decision based on inexperience. For example, a court might consider a college prank of streaking to be more of a question of maturity rather than an intent to arouse sexual desire in another.
- Drunkenness – Being drunk generally isn’t a defense for any crime, but it’s possible the court might be more lenient if the circumstances of the indecent exposure involve a party atmosphere in which many of the participants are drinking. Examples of this might be a big sporting event like the Super Bowl, where someone who has been celebrating and drinking might get it in their head to moon fans of the opposing team. While the court may still impose some sort of penalty, it might consider the accused’s intoxication to be a mitigating factor in the case.
- Nursing an infant – Texas law permits women to breastfeed in public spaces. However, there is no similar protection in private businesses. If the mother was nursing an infant in public, however, this is a defense to any indecent exposure charge. Given the protection under the law, it’s quite rare for a woman to be charged with indecent exposure simply for nursing an infant.
If you’ve been charged with indecent exposure in Texas, don’t lose hope. While it can be embarrassing to have this type of charge brought against you, it’s possible to reclaim your reputation and your freedom. Contact a defense attorney in Dallas at the Law Office of Broden & Mickelsen today to discuss your case.
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Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case.