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5 Defenses for Fighting an Indecent Exposure Charge

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

5 Defenses for Fighting an Indecent Exposure Charge

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Indecent exposure is against the law. Even if you didn’t expose yourself to a minor or another person, you could be charged with a serious sex offense or even be required to register as a sex offender.

It probably doesn’t seem fair, especially if you didn’t intend to cause a problem in public or your actions weren’t sexual at all. What you were doing at the moment of arrest might make a difference:

  • Were you naked, such as trying to go from your pool to the house?
  • Were you accidentally locked out of your home and trying to get back in?
  • Were you engaging in a prank, such as mooning or exposing your genitals at a sports event?

In these types of scenarios, you weren’t attempting to exposure yourself to arouse or offend someone else. Your actions might not be perceived as serious by the prosecutor in that case.

Are you facing an indecent exposure charge in Texas?
Contact The Law Office of Greg Tsioros today for a free consultation 

What is the definition of indecent exposure in Texas?

Texas Penal Code Section 21.08 says that an individual may be charged with indecent exposure if he or she exposes the genitalia or annual with the intent to arouse or sexually gratify any person or when he or she has no concerns if another person or persons are offended or alarmed by the action.

Consequences of an Indecent Exposure Sentence

If this is a first-time charge of indecent exposure, the court will usually be relatively lenient. You may face a Class B misdemeanor. If convicted, you face up to 180 days in jail and/or a maximum $2,000 fine.

However, a second indecent exposure offense can mean felony charges punishable by more time behind bars and significant fines. If you’re accused of indecent exposure before a child less than 17 years of age, you may face indecency with a child by exposure, a felony offense.

In any of these situations, you may be required to register as a sex offender, even if the indecent exposure incident wasn’t sexual in nature.

For these reasons, it’s particularly vital to fight a second indecent exposure charge if you’ve been previously convicted of a public lewdness or sex crime in Texas. A second guilty plea will necessitate your registration as a sex offender in Texas unless you’re placed on deferred adjudication for that offense.

Public Lewdness and Indecent Exposure in Texas

Understand that a public lewdness or indecent exposure charge is taken seriously by prosecutorial agencies throughout Texas. If you’re charged with a sex crime—even a misdemeanor—you must have a criminal defense attorney with experience in these cases.

Don’t assume that if you didn’t commit indecent exposure, the court will accept the facts of your case. An indecent exposure charge is a legal emergency. It makes good sense to create a defense with an experienced criminal defense attorney now. Your attorney may be able to make the charge go away or have penalties for the alleged offense reduced.

Never enter a guilty plea because you believe it’s no big deal. Your criminal record will meaningfully affect the rest of your life. It may affect where you work or where you live. It can impact relationships with friends and family members.

Either way, you don’t want to live the rest of your days as a registered sex offender. You shouldn’t need to do jail time if you didn’t expose yourself.

Possible Indecent Exposure Defenses

In an indecent exposure case, the prosecutor must show that the defendant intended to sexually gratify or stimulate sexual desire in another person. Because of this, the law lessens the mens rea from the defendant’s knowing to recklessness–he or she doesn’t know or care if another individual present might experience alarm or offense at the actions.

In considering the application of the standard, the court has previously ruled that the core issue is whether the actor was reckless in performing an act when another party was present (who might be offended or stimulated as a result).

A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will consider the following categories of defenses in an indecent exposure case:

  1. The actor showed a lack of intent. For example, a homeless individual standing naked behind of refuse receptacle shouldn’t be considered indecent exposure. He or she might be attempting to bathe.
  2. An individual previously diagnosed with a mental disability or illness shouldn’t be held accountable for his or her actions in some cases. For instance, he or she may lack the mental capacity to understand it’s socially unacceptable to urinate in a public place.
  3. Intoxication, while not a standard defense to an indecent exposure charge, may be considered a mitigating factor by the court. It may, therefore, help to reduce the penalties associated with a conviction.
  4. The defendant’s age may be a factor. A child or youth is less likely to have intended to sexually gratify or arouse another party by exposing himself or herself than an adult. For example, if young girl exposes her breasts in the park because it’s an extremely hot day, she probably wasn’t attempting to attract sexual attention.
  5. Women have the right to breastfeed a baby in public in Texas. However, the owner of a private establishment, shopping place, or another open space may ask a breastfeeding woman to leave the premises. If the mother refuses to leave when asked, she might be arrested for trespass. Rarely, she might face an indecent exposure charge.

Court Decisions Often Involve Subjective Judgements

It’s the sad truth. Judges, prosecutors, and/or jurors often make quick decisions and subjective decision-making in an indecent exposure case.

Without an effective criminal defense attorney, these very important parties might not take the time to thoroughly review the facts of the case.

You have the legal right under the U.S. Constitution and the laws of Texas to due process. You must be provided with sufficient opportunity to argue the case and prove you’re not guilty.

With the support of a knowledgeable Houston defense attorney, you’ll better fight any allegations of indecent exposure or public lewdness in an efficient, professional manner. His arguments will progressively move you closer to having charges dismissed or reduced.

If you or someone you love has been charged with indecent exposure, you must swiftly respond to the allegations. Without taking the necessary actions, a sex crime conviction can ruin your life.

Indecent Exposure Attorney in Houston

Not all Houston criminal defense attorneys have what it takes to gain control of an often highly-charged indecent exposure case. However, if you or someone you care about has been accused of indecent exposure or public lewdness, this isn’t a time to go it alone.

Your case deserves the benefit of a proactive and aggressive indecent exposure attorney. Greg Tsioros, a former Harris County DA’s Office prosecutor, has the experienced you need now. The Law Firm of Greg Tsioros will use their previous experience to provide the representation needed to clear your name. Call Greg Tsioros at 832-752-5972 to schedule an initial case evaluation.

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