A sex crime charge can ruin your reputation and harm your career. In some situations, you may be required to register as a sex offender. To avoid unnecessarily harsh consequences, these charges need to be taken seriously from the very beginning. In addition to statutory penalties, the social consequences of a Houston indecent exposure or public lewdness charge are too extreme to have anyone other than experienced Houston sex crimes lawyer Ned Barnett by your side throughout the entire legal process.
Call The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 for a free consultation.
Indecent Exposure in Texas
Under Texas Penal Code Section 21.08, you may commit an indecent exposure offense when you expose your anus or part of your genitals with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, and are reckless about whether another person who will be alarmed or offended is present.
According to Texas law, you behave recklessly when you are aware of, but consciously disregard, a substantial and unjustifiable risk of your conduct. This means you knew or should have known that your actions could offend or alarm someone else in the vicinity, but chose to move forward anyway.
It is important to note the statute does not specifically require you to have been in a public place when the offense occurred – though many situations do involve exposure in public. It also does not state that any part of the genitals be exposed a specific length of time.
TX Public Lewdness Offense
Under Texas Penal Code Section 21.07, it is illegal for you to knowingly engage in the following in a public place, or in the presence of a person who will be offended or alarmed:
- Sexual intercourse
- Deviate sexual intercourse
- Sexual contact
- Any contact between a person’s mouth or genitals and the anus or genitals of an animal or fowl
To fully understand the law, you must take a closer look at the definitions of each of these actions. “Sexual intercourse” is only the penetration of a woman by a man. “Deviate sexual intercourse” is any contact between the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another, which would include oral sex, or penetration of the genitals or anus with an object. “Sexual contact” includes any touching of the breasts, genitals, or anus with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desire of another person.
The law regarding public lewdness is broad enough that it can include sexual behavior in public, or even in private where other people may be offended. Under Texas law, a public place is anywhere the public or a substantial group of the public has access, including common areas of apartment complexes.
Offenses Similar to Indecent Exposure and Public Lewdness
You may also be charged with disorderly conduct in Texas if you expose your anus or genitals in a public place and are reckless about whether someone else may be present who will be offended or alarmed. A disorderly conduct charge is a class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500.
Statutory Penalties and Additional Consequences
If you are convicted of indecent exposure or public lewdness, you may face the following penalties:
- Indecent Exposure- A class B misdemeanor, an indecent exposure conviction carries with it 180 days in jail and fines reaching $2,000.
- Public Lewdness- This offense is a class A misdemeanor resulting in incarceration for up to one year, fines reaching $4,000, community service, and probation.
Collateral consequences for a conviction for these offenses can include:
- A permanent criminal record
- Registration as a sex offender
- Difficulty obtaining employment
- Difficulty being approved for rental housing
- Loss of custody or visitation of your children
- Damage to your immigration status or citizenship application
- Suspension or revocation of a professional license
Defenses Against Indecent Exposure and Public Lewdness
There are many ways to fight against indecent exposure or public lewdness charges. You are not automatically guilty because you were charged with these crimes.
It is possible to attack the elements of the specific offense, including proving that there was no arousal or intent of sexual gratification. You and your attorney may also be able to demonstrate that you had no way of knowing anyone else could see you. This may be the case if you were nude sunbathing on private land and did not know others could see onto the property.
Your charge may also be a mistake of identity. It may not have been you who exposed their genitals to others. Your attorney may fight to prove that you were in another place at the time of the incident. If you were falsely accused of indecent exposure or public lewdness, your Houston sex crimes attorney will build the strongest defense possible under the law to show that you did not expose yourself.
A Houston Indecent Exposure Lawyer Can Help
Many cases of indecent exposure and public lewdness aren’t clear cut. It takes the skills of a criminal defense lawyer to prove you are innocent or to minimize the consequences of a conviction. Attorney Ned Barnett will utilize every defense possible to represent your rights in court. He will listen to you with a compassionate ear and develop a defense strategy that will guide you through the legal process.
An experienced Houston indecent exposure and public lewdness lawyer from The Law Offices of Ned Barnett will scrutinize the evidence against you and will build you the strongest defense possible under the law.