Local police are currently searching for a man who exposed himself in public. In early February, the unknown man entered a discount retail store, exposing himself and inappropriately touching himself in plain view of another customer.
Indecent exposure is a criminal offense in Pennsylvania, and one that many believe they understand. The law is nuanced though, and not everyone fully understands it. Below, our Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer explains the law, and the penalties one will face if convicted.
What is Indecent Exposure?
The law on indecent exposure is fairly basic. Anyone who exposes their genitals in a public space, or in an area where it is reasonably believed it would cause alarm or offense to others, can be charged with indecent exposure.
The nuance comes in when defining ‘genitals’ under the law. Generally speaking, the definition refers to a person’s vagina or penis. If a person was to expose their breasts, that likely would not be considered indecent exposure, but a person could still be charged with open lewdness. The only exception to this is when a woman breastfeeds, as this act is not considered offensive or lewd.
Some common examples of indecent exposure include:
- Running through an open area, crowd, or sports arena naked, otherwise known as streaking
- Engaging in sexual intercourse in a public restroom or in another public area
- Opening a coat or another item of clothing to expose oneself, otherwise known as flashing
- Urinating in public
Penalties for Indecent Exposure
Indecent exposure is charged as a second degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. The only exception to this is when the witness to defendants’ act was 16 years old or younger. In these cases, the crime is upgraded to a first degree misdemeanor.
The penalties for a second degree misdemeanor include a maximum $5,000 fine and between one and two years in jail. The penalties for a first degree misdemeanor include a maximum fine of $10,000 and up to five years in jail.
Unfortunately, jail time and high fines are not the only consequences of a conviction for indecent exposure. The offense is classified as a sex crime. As such, anyone convicted may be required to register on the sex offender registry, also known as Megan’s Law or SORNA. Once a person has to register on SORNA, anyone can look up the registrant’s information, making it much more difficult for the person to obtain employment, academic opportunities, and even housing.
Call Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Allentown Today
Indecent exposure may not sound like a serious crime, but it is. If you are convicted, the penalties are harsh and they may follow you for the rest of your life. At van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin, our Allentown criminal defense lawyers know this and have the necessary experience to build a solid case that refutes the arguments of the prosecution. Call us today at 215-515-6892 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how we can help with your case.