An indecent exposure charge can be filed when someone is accused of the public exposure of private body parts or when two people engage in sexual behavior in public. As sex crimes lawyers, we know that the state’s indecent exposure laws make it a misdemeanor to “make any open and obscene exhibition of his or her person or the person of another knowing that such conduct is likely to cause reasonable affront or alarm.” However, before anyone can receive a charge with vulgar exhibition in Washington state, a witness must be willing to come forward and complain and later appear in court to testify. If you are charged with indecent exposure in the Seattle area, retain the legal help you need and contact experienced Seattle indecent exposure attorney Kevin Trombold at once.
TWENTY YEARS OF EXPERIENCE
In general, indecent exposure cases are misdemeanors in the state of Washington. However, just because this crime is a misdemeanor does not mean that the charges should not be taken seriously. Generally, the penalty for vulgar exposure is a $1,000 fine and a maximum of 90 days in jail. However, if the “victim” or witness is a minor under the age of fourteen, the crime is considered a gross misdemeanor with an enhanced vulgar exposure penalty. If the defendant has been previously arrested for indecent exposure and convicted, or if the defendant has a previous conviction for public lewdness or any other sex crime, indecent exposure may be prosecuted as a Class C felony.
Besides the possible fines and jail time, a conviction could also lead to other consequences. If you are convicted of indecent exposure, you could find it difficult to secure housing, since many landlords will be hesitant to house someone with a record of exposing themselves to others. Employers likely won’t want to take a chance on a person who has a history of this kind of behavior, either. Friends and family members may be ashamed of your behavior and turn your back on you after an vulgar exposure conviction. Even if the criminal penalties do not sound like much, the real life consequences of an indecent exposure conviction are serious and should be avoided at all costs.
Although Washington does not require those who are convicted of vulgar exposure to register on the sex offender registry, other states do. That means if you are convicted of indecent exhibition and move to another state that does consider you a sex offender, you will have to register. Even though the crime was committed in Washington, you have to abide by the laws of the state that you reside in.
In Washington, you may be able to vacate your criminal record of indecent exposure after you have been convicted. However, this cannot be done until three years has passed since you have been convicted. One of the requirements for eligibility to vacate your record of vulgar exhibition is not committing any other crimes in this three year period. It is not a guarantee that you will be able to remove this conviction off of your record, so the charges should not be taken lightly.
If you are charged with indecent exposure in the Seattle area, whether it’s your first offense or you have a record of previous offenses, the Law Offices of Kevin Trombold can help. Experienced Seattle indecent exposure attorney Kevin Trombold has represented criminal defendants in the Seattle area for more than two decades including those charged with vulgar exhibition. He fights aggressively fairly for all of his clients.
DEFENSES FOR INDECENT EXPOSURE
The defense strategy that is chosen by your attorneys will depend on the particular circumstances involving your case. However, there are a few common defense strategies that are used in indecent exposure cases.
One of the most common strategies used in indecent exposure cases is to prove there is a lack of intent. In order to commit indecent exhibition, you must have had the intent to make an “open and obscene exposure,” therefore, if you did not have the intention to do so, no charges should be filed against you. If the defense can show that the behavior was an accident or unintentional, then you should not be convicted of the crime. For example, if the wind blows a woman’s skirt up and exposes her body, this is not an intentional act since she cannot control the wind. A woman who is breastfeeding her child has no intention to expose herself to others in an obscene manner, so this is not considered indecent exposure either.
Another common defense strategy is to prove that the accused was not committing indecent exposure, but rather urinating in public, which is a much lesser crime. In Washington, urinating in public is usually punishable by a $250 fine which is a small price to pay compared to the possible penalties of indecent exhibition. An experienced attorney may be able to talk to the prosecution and have your charges reduced to urinating in public.
If the defendant has known mental health issues, this could be used as a defense against indecent exposure charges. The defendant may come to an agreement with the prosecution that he or she will seek professional treatment in exchange for dismissing or reducing the charges.
Have you or a family member or friend been charged with indecent exhibition? If so, contact the experienced Seattle indecent exposure attorneys at the Law Offices of Kevin Trombold.
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An indecent exposure arrest is not automatically a conviction. Kevin Trombold is an experienced Seattle criminal defense attorney who has a knowledgeable legal team who is eager to help you get the best outcome for your case. With respect with the prosecutors, peers, and judges in the Seattle area, you will be in good hands. Get your free consultation today. Call us at 206-382-9200.