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Indecent Exposure

Indecent exposure laws in most states make it a crime to purposefully display one's genitals in public, causing others to be alarmed or offended. Indecent exposure is often committed for the sexual gratification of the offender or committed to entice a sexual response.

In California, for instance, to be convicted of indecent exposure, the prosecution must prove an intent to sexually arouse, or sexually insult or offend. The California statute broadly and vaguely makes it a crime to willfully expose your genitals to someone else, motivated by a desire to sexually gratify yourself or offend or insult the other person.

Exposing one’s genitals means just that -- to show your bare genitals. Showing a bare female breast is not considered exposing one’s genitals (otherwise breastfeeding mothers might face indecent exposure charges). Similarly, flashing someone your under wear, no matter how revealing or skimpy, is not indecent exposure for purposes of most indecent exposure statutes, including California's.

That said, an indecent exposure charge reach the level of a sexual assault if any physical contact is made.

Urinating in Public and Indecent Exposure?

So what about urinating in public? If one is urinating behind a dumpster, for example, outside direct view of the public (i.e. especially at night), that person likely would have a good argument that the act was not done with the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification or offending another.

Indecent Exposure Sentences

In most cases, a first indecent exposure conviction subjects you to misdemeanor penalties like a few months in county jail and a fine. A second offense likely would rise to a felony and can lead to a state prison sentence. But perhaps worst of all, in some states any indecent exposure conviction subjects you to a lifetime duty to register as a register as a sex offender. This often makes plea bargaining for an alternative charge vital.

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