You would think that consensual sex between adults would be entirely lawful. However, that isn’t true everywhere in the United States. There are many restrictions on sexual activity to protect and not offend the public.
For instance, there are limitations on where you can engage in consensual sex acts. You could face criminal charges under Texas law if you are caught having sex in public. This is a very uncomfortable and challenging situation to find yourself in. The best way to handle it is by calling a Houston sex crimes lawyer with experience in these public sex cases.
Charges & Penalties for Public Sex in Houston
If you are arrested for participating in sexual behavior in public, then you could face one of several charges. Possible offenses of this nature include:
Public Lewdness (Texas Penal Code Section 21.07)
It is unlawful to knowingly engage in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, or sexual contact in a public place or in the presence of someone who will be alarmed or offended. This is a class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and fines reaching $4,000. You may also be sentenced to community service and probation.
Indecent Exposure (Texas Penal Code Section 21.08)
It is illegal to expose your genitals or anus with the intent to arouse yourself or someone else or gratify your own or another person’s sexual desires while being reckless as to whether another person is present who may be alarmed or offended. This is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and fines reaching $2,000.
Disorderly Conduct (Texas Penal Code Section 42.01)
It is illegal to expose your genitals or anus in a public place and to be reckless about whether anyone may be present who will be alarmed or offended, or to make an offensive display in a public place that is intended to incite an immediate breach of peace. Depending on your situation, this offense is classified as a class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500, or a class B misdemeanor.
Could These Crimes Land You on the Sexual Offender Registry?
Established in 1991, the Sexual Offender Registry is a database containing the names and information about people convicted of crimes of a sexual nature. Several crimes could place you on the registry, even if they appear innocuous.
The details of your case determine if you must register and for how long. If you’re charged with public lewdness or indecent exposure, you could face registration in the sexual offender registry. You might have to register for life or only for ten years.
It’s essential to note that a second offense during a 10-year period of sexual registration could permanently place on the sex offender registry.
What is Considered a Public Place?
A public place may be obvious. For instance, if you and your partner choose to have sex in an outdoor space like Memorial Park, this is clearly a public venue. You can reasonably expect someone else to pass by at odd times.
However, an area’s purpose may not be so black and white. Some locations are reasonably private yet still count as a public place under the law. For example, you and your partner may engage in sex in your backyard.
If your neighbors could easily see you from their homes or yards, or if you have an alley that vehicles and pedestrians use, then you could offend or alarm members of the public. Despite being on private property, you could face criminal charges.
What About Sex in a Car?
No specific criminal laws prevent you from having sex in a car. However, if someone could witness the act from public property, or if the vehicle is in a semi-public place, getting caught would equal public lewdness. You’d likely get charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
There are many similarly semi-private areas you could face charges for consensual sexual activity. However, if you believe you are wrongly facing public sex charges, then contact a Houston criminal defense lawyer from our firm as soon as possible.
Public Sex Linked to Prostitution
If you are arrested for participating in sexual activity in public with a prostitute, you face a different set of penal laws. You can be charged with prostitution under Texas Penal Code Section 43.02 if you offer or agree to receive or pay a fee to engage in sexual conduct. For a first offense, this is a class B misdemeanor.
Contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett for Help Today
If you and a partner were participating in sexual activity and were placed under arrest for a crime, you need to call an attorney right away. Your lawyer can fight for the charges to be dropped or dismissed, and they might also pursue having your charges reduced.
Sexual crimes carry hefty penalties, so having a lawyer who can mitigate the penalties, like having to register as a sex offender, is critical. Your lawyer could fight to have you not receive any incarceration for a conviction.