It usually is not a violent or destructive crime, but in the State of Washington, indecent exposure isn’t treated lightly, either. If you are charged with indecent exposure in or near the Seattle area, you’re going to need advice and representation from a good Seattle criminal defense attorney.
If you are accused of indecent exposure, it can be genuinely shameful and embarrassing. Stand-up comedians have always relied on jokes about “flashers” and “streakers” to get their audiences laughing, but there’s nothing funny about being charged with indecent exposure.
Do You Need a Good Defense Attorney?
Perhaps you drank a bit too much with some friends, or you just got carried away in a moment of overwhelming passion. Maybe you are entirely innocent, or you’ve been falsely accused of indecent exposure, and you need a good defense lawyer to prove that you are not guilty.
What constitutes indecent exposure in this state? What are the possible penalties if you are convicted of indecent exposure? And what will an aggressive, effective Seattle defense attorney do to fight for justice on your behalf?
If you’ll keep reading this brief discussion of indecent exposure and the law, you will learn the answers to those questions, and you will also learn more about your rights if you are charged with indecent exposure – or with any related crime – in the State of Washington.
How Is Indecent Exposure Defined?
In Washington, a person commits the crime of indecent exposure if that person intentionally exposes himself or herself – or exposes someone else – in a manner that is “open and obscene” while knowing such conduct will probably cause “reasonable affront or alarm” to any observers.
It is always smart to presume that in any public situation, revealing one’s genitals, buttocks, or breasts will probably be considered indecent exposure. However, to convict someone of indecent exposure, a prosecutor must prove each of these four “elements” of the crime:
- Intentionality: A person may be convicted of indecent exposure only if the exposure was intentional.
- Knowing the exposure may cause affront or alarm: It does not have to be a perpetrator’s intent to cause affront or alarm. It’s enough that the perpetrator was aware that affront or alarm would probably occur.
- Exposure: This is the most obvious element of the crime, but simple nudity alone, whether partial or total, does not constitute indecent exposure.
- An open and obscene manner: There must be an open and obscene level or manner of exposure. The law explicitly spells out that breastfeeding in public is not “obscene” and does not constitute indecent exposure.
What Are the Legal Penalties for an Indecent Exposure Conviction?
The penalties for indecent exposure convictions will depend on the details of the incident and the defendant’s criminal history – particularly if the defendant has prior convictions for indecent exposure or for other sex crimes:
- For first offenders, in most cases, indecent exposure is charged as a misdemeanor, and a conviction may be penalized with up to ninety days in jail and/or, for adults, a fine of up to $1,000.
- However, a first indecent exposure offense becomes a gross misdemeanor if someone exposes himself or herself to a minor below age 14. A gross misdemeanor conviction is punishable with up to a year in jail and/or, for adults, a fine of up to $5,000.
- Finally, if a defendant has a prior conviction for indecent exposure or other particular sex crimes, indecent exposure will be charged as a class C felony, and a conviction may be penalized with up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
What Are the “Extra-Legal” Penalties?
You do not want to be convicted for indecent exposure in Washington State. Some of the consequences could follow you for the rest of your life.
Along with the legal penalties, consider these “extra-legal” penalties:
- Prospective employers and landlords could reject you for employment or housing upon discovering your indecent exposure conviction in a background check.
- If you hold a professional license, a conviction for indecent exposure will probably trigger a disciplinary action by your state licensing board, which could include the suspension or revocation of your professional license.
- If you are a non-citizen, a conviction for indecent exposure could be considered grounds for deportation.
Is Sex Offender Registration Required?
Washington State does not require sex offender registration for indecent exposure convictions. However, if you are convicted of indecent exposure in a state that does require sex offender registration for indecent exposure, you will be required to register if you move to Washington.
Similarly, if you are convicted of indecent exposure in Washington and you move to another state, you may be required to register in that state as a sex offender.
How Will Your Attorney Defend You?
If you are placed under arrest and charged with indecent exposure, you must exercise your rights immediately. Contact a Seattle indecent exposure attorney as quickly as you can. Your defense attorney may:
- seek to have the indecent exposure charge against you reduced or dismissed
- file a motion to have some or all of the evidence against you suppressed
- attempt to discredit the state’s evidence and/or witnesses
The right criminal defense attorney will answer your questions, protect your rights, explain your options, and bring your indecent exposure case to its best possible outcome. Your lawyer will help you understand the evidence against you and what the state must prove to convict you.
Your Side of the Story Matters
Some defendants are charged with indecent exposure for urinating in a public location because they were intoxicated or sick, and a law officer observed it or someone made a report to the police. If this is what happened, your lawyer will tell your side of the story and help the court understand that you meant no harm.
But in other cases, a person who commits indecent exposure may have a psychological issue and need some help. A good Seattle criminal defense attorney will listen to you and not judge you.
If you are not guilty of indecent exposure, your attorney will fight aggressively on your behalf. On the other hand, if you need help, and if you are willing to admit it, your attorney can probably negotiate a plea deal that includes treatment and counseling.
Don’t let a moment of foolishness haunt you for the rest of your life. Get effective legal help at once if you are charged with indecent exposure. A good attorney’s help is your right.