The Difference Between Public Lewdness and Indecent Exposure

Others just want things to be peaceful and orderly. That’s why we’ve got rules against certain behaviors we think are unsafe, inappropriate, or disturbing to everyone.

In Texas, like in most places, showing yourself explicitly in public is against the law. You might have heard about “indecent exposure” and “public lewdness,” but not everyone knows what makes them different. Both involve showing private body parts and can lead to serious consequences, like being labeled as a sex offender, which can affect your future a lot. But it’s crucial to know that each charge comes with its own set of punishments, especially if you find yourself facing one of these charges.

Public Lewdness and Indecent Exposure: How Does It Differ?

We all know that engaging in scandalous behavior publicly alarms and may violates the law. Just like there are rules against being drunk in public, there are also rules against showing private or intimate parts or doing sexual acts where others can see.

The laws about public lewdness and indecent exposure show these rules in action. To understand these offenses, you just need to know a couple of important things.

Public lewdness, according to Texas Penal Code Section 21.07, means doing certain things in public, like:

  1. Engages in sexual intercourse—explicitly defined as one person penetrating another.
  2. Deviate sexual intercourse refers to any contact involving one person’s genitals and the mouth or anus of another, and it also encompasses the use of objects for penetration in the anus or genitals.
  3. Any sexual contact involves any touching of the female breasts, genitals, or anus with the intention of sexually arousing or satisfying another person.
  4. Doing any sexual activity with an animal

Even if you’re not in a public place, you could still get in trouble if you act without thinking about others who might see and get upset. For this law, a public place is anywhere that’s not someone’s residence or a closed door. So, as long as it’s not on private premises, it could be considered a public place.

As for indirect exposure, according to Section 21.08, it is when someone purposefully shows their private parts, like the anus or genitals, with two primary intentions:

  1. They might do it to make someone feel satisfied or aroused sexually.
  2. They might not care if someone sees and gets upset.

In these cases, what the person meant to do is really important. For example, if someone urinates in public, they might not be breaking this law. But if someone intentionally exposes their private parts to strangers, the police could arrest them and take them to jail.

Penalties for Public Lewdness and Indecent Exposure in Texas

Public lewdness is, by default, classified as:

  • Class A misdemeanor
  • Fine: Up to $4,000
  • Jail Sentence: Up to 1 year in county jail

In contrast, indecent exposure is classified as:

  • Class B misdemeanor
  • Fine: Up to $2,000
  • Jail Sentence: Up to 180 days in county jail

It’s important to mention that penalties can be more severe if there are aggravating factors or if the person who commits an offense has prior convictions.

Possible Legal Defense if Facing Public Lewdness or Indecent Exposure Charges

  1. Lack of Intent:
    › Question whether they can prove you meant to do something wrong, especially for indecent exposure.
    › Show that what happened wasn’t on purpose to sexually excite someone.
  2. Mistaken Identity:
    › Say they got it wrong, and you’re not the person who did it.
    › Collect proof like alibis or witnesses who can confirm you didn’t do it.
  3. Private Location:
    › Explain that whatever happened was in a truly private place where it’s normal to expect privacy.
  4. Police Misconduct:
    › If the police didn’t follow the rules, find and show proof of that.
  5. Deficient Evidence:
    › Ask if they really have enough proof to say you did something wrong.
    › Point out any problems or mistakes in their case.

Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!

Understanding the difference between public lewdness and indecent exposure is really important because breaking these rules in Texas can lead to big problems. It might even brand someone as a sex offender, affecting their future.

Sometimes, these charges happen because of misunderstandings. That’s why having a criminal defense attorney is so important. Whether it’s proving you didn’t mean to do anything wrong, showing they got the wrong person, explaining it happened in a private place, pointing out if the police didn’t do things right, or finding mistakes in their evidence, a strong defense can protect you. If you’re facing charges, getting legal help quickly is not just a good idea; it’s a must to protect your rights and understand Texas law.