Caught Having Sex in Public – A Guide to Indecent Exposure Laws and Penalties

Accidents happen in life. Sometimes, a little bit of carelessness may lead to a lot of trouble. Indecent exposure charges may come from a wide net of situations. However, the bottom line is that you want to fight as hard as possible to avoid weathering the legal troubles an indecent exposure conviction will leave on your record. Read on to learn more about: 

  • Actions and Their Potential Charges in Maryland; 
  • The Potential Impact of a Lewd Act Charge on your Life; and 
  • Mounting a Defense to Exposure: Choosing the Right Legal Path

 

What May Land You an Indecent Exposure Charge? 

Indecent Exposure is a slippery slope. If you are not careful, there is a chance you may run into a situation where the cops catch you in a tough spot. What might that look like? Here are a few scenarios. 

Say you are driving home one night and need to use the bathroom. With no one in sight, you pull to the side of the road for a quick stop. However! While what you thought was an innocent and out-of-sight bathroom break might quickly turn into a quick call to the police if you didn’t realize the residential neighborhood in front of you. 

Another scenario may be having sex in public: yet again, a situation where no due diligence may lead you down a murky legal road. Again, indecent exposure is a possibility, but you may also face charges relating to lewd conduct. The legal umbrella of sex acts in public is navigable but never looks good on a record. It is important to know when a place is truly public—and also making sure you are not in the presence of people. 

 

The topic of the sex offender registry often comes up with sex-related charges. Though you may think the two are linked, good news: Maryland does not treat them as such. Maryland is one of the states that treats sex offender registries separately from indecent exposure or lewd conduct laws. Still, it is not impossible, depending on your circumstances. Do not rely on what seems like leniency from the state—there’s still a chance you may see a crossover in judgment. 

 

Avoiding Exposure at All Costs: The Resonating Impact It May Have on Your Life

If you want to avoid the confrontation of the legal system and stand back and do your time, you can; however, it’s not like “doing your time” does you any favors in the future. 

Even though the charges seem light (especially if you can afford the fine), the consequences may be wide-reaching. For one, expungement of your records isn’t automatic. People tend to immediately look down on certain crimes, and indecent exposure is one of them, despite the fact they might not have the full context. If it reads bad on paper, chances are future employers won’t read it with the same lived experience you will. 

 

Already employed? There may be a possibility your employer catches wind of the charges and raises questions. Say you are required to register as a sex offender: you may face limitations that will change your life. These types of cases especially may have a negative effect on your relationships with your family.

There is no guarantee how they will view it, but to avoid the extra trouble of having your record called into question, it is the very best to fight against charges. 

 

Defending Yourself Against Indecent Exposure

Maryland requires a few conditions to charge a person with indecent exposure: exposure, willful intent to expose oneself and having to have happened in a public place in the presence of others. 

Based on these, your available defenses are clear: arguing exposure didn’t occur, lack of intent, or that it didn’t happen in public or in the presence of others. 

 

For one, if accused of exposure but no exposure occurred, you can argue against the claims. The effectiveness of this depends on the relevant evidence in the case and how your attorney chooses to poke holes in the prosecution’s argument.  

An accidental case of indecent exposure may lead you towards a lack of intent defense on the basis that you didn’t willfully choose to expose yourself to others. If your attorney argues this, chances are they may drop the charges. It is important to note that Maryland exposure laws, unlike some states, do not require the alleged to receive gratification or pleasure from committing an act of exposure. In that, the common ‘lack of pleasure’ defense used in other states may not be as successful in Maryland. 

 

Finally, the lack of people defense requires you to demonstrate there were no other individuals present at the alleged instance of indecent exposure. You may cite the remoteness of the area in your defense as well if your decision-making involved trying to limit the risk of exposure as much as possible. 

Find the right attorney to help strategize your return to life. If you are charged with indecent exposure and feel overwhelmed at the prospect of a legal battle, contact our offices for a free initial consultation.