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Indecent Exposure and Public Lewdness: Know the Difference

Published: Feb 04, 2020 in Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes

The Texas Penal Code prohibits sexual conduct that is damaging to the well-being of society. This includes indecent exposure and public lewdness.

As the name implies, indecent exposure involves exposing your genitals or anus in public with the intent to arouse or gratify. Public lewdness, however, is explicitly sexual conduct in public. Therefore, the penalties for public lewdness are harsher than for indecent exposure.

For instance, if you get caught masturbating in public, you can be charged with indecent exposure. On the other hand, if you get caught having sex in public, like a parking lot or park, you could get charged with public lewdness.

If you’ve been accused of indecent exposure, public indecency, or any other sex crime, contact a sex crimes lawyer at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett right away. Free consultations are available and we know how to secure the best possible outcome.

Call today at (713) 222-6767.

Texas Indecent Exposure Law

Indecent exposure consists of exposing your anus or any part of your genitals with the intent to gratify yourself or another person. Additionally, indecent exposure requires that you be reckless about whether someone will see you and get offended.

The law considers you to be reckless if you are aware of the risk involved, but you go ahead anyway.

Indecent exposure is a class B misdemeanor. It carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.

Is Public Urination Also Indecent Exposure?

Many city ordinances in Texas also prohibit public urination. So if you get caught urinating in public, even if you believe no one can see you, you will likely be issued an ordinance violation. These are similar to traffic tickets. Although, technically you can be charged with indecent exposure.

However, there is good news. Since a prosecutor must prove every element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt, it’s likely that you will only face a citation for public urination unless the police have evidence that you urinated with the intent to arouse yourself or another person.

What Is Public Lewdness?

Public lewdness is knowingly doing any of the following in a public place, or where it is likely that someone else will see your conduct and be offended:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Deviate sexual intercourse (anal sex, use of sex toys, etc.)
  • Sexual contact (masturbation, mutual intimate touching, etc.)
  • Sexual intercourse or contact with an animal

Since public lewdness has a greater likelihood of offending someone and involves more deliberate conduct than indecent exposure, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor. This is the most serious category aside from felonies. The maximum penalty for a class A misdemeanor is one year in jail and $4,000 in fines.

Why You Should Defend Against These Charges

Some people quickly accept deals in these cases, just to have them over with fast. This is usually a mistake.

A conviction for indecent exposure or public lewdness means more than just fines and jail time. Even if you avoid time in custody, it means having a permanent criminal record.

This record -particularly the sexual nature of the crime – can keep you from your dream job. For example, a sex crime conviction can prevent you from qualifying for certain professional licenses. That’s why it’s essential to do everything possible to beat the charges against you.

A Houston Sex Crimes Lawyer Can Help

These charges are often the result of misunderstandings. And at The Law Offices of Ned Barnett, we have a proven track record of securing good case results for clients accused of public lewdness and incident exposure. We may be able to demonstrate that you lacked the intent to shock others, or that you reasonably believed that no one would see you.

If you need a Houston sex crimes lawyer, call attorney Ned Barnett today at (713) 222-6767, or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation.