Indecent Exposure, Compromising Positions, and Your Legal Rights

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Aug 22, 2023 | 0 Comments

“Indecent exposure” is one of those concepts that seems fairly straightforward but that many people don't fully understand. Would you be able to give the legal definition of this term if asked to do so? Does indecent exposure simply mean being naked in public, or is there more to it? What are the penalties for being caught with your pants down— metaphorically or literally—and is it even likely you'll face charges?

Today we're answering some of the most frequently asked questions about indecent exposure in Pennsylvania.

What is Indecent Exposure, Anyway?

Under Pennsylvania law, indecent exposure refers to showing one's private parts in public. This could take several forms, including:

  • Engaging in sexual activity
  • Urinating
  • Flashing, or deliberately exposing oneself by opening a coat or removing clothing
  • Streaking, or running naked through any open space or in a crowd

The key element with all of these actions is that they're taken in public, in full view of other people. Acts of indecent exposure may be committed deliberately, or they may occur accidentally as part of another action (such as urinating in public).

However, such acts can also be committed on private property and still be charged as indecent exposure if they could reasonably cause offense to others. For example, someone flashing their genitals while standing on their own porch or in front of a window, and in full view of passersby, could face indecent exposure charges.

How Does PA Law Define “Private Parts”?

Generally, a person's private parts are defined as their genitals—their penis or vagina. In most jurisdictions, the female breast does not qualify as genitals or private parts.

What Kind of Charges Could Result?

In the state of Pennsylvania, indecent exposure is a second-degree misdemeanor, unless there are witnesses to the exposure who are under 16 years of age. In those instances, the act becomes a first-degree misdemeanor.

Can Indecent Exposure Really Have Serious Consequences?

Absolutely. Just because the charges are misdemeanors doesn't mean they aren't serious. For second-degree misdemeanors, the penalties can be up to two years in jail and up to $5000 in fines. For first-degree misdemeanors, the penalties go up to a maximum of $10,000 in fines and up to five years jail time.

Perhaps even more detrimental, indecent exposure offenses are considered sex offenses. This means that anyone convicted of this crime will have to register as a sex offender—which could mean serious difficulties gaining employment, finding housing, qualifying for academic programs, and just being accepted in society.

Yikes! How Should Someone Handle Indecent Exposure Charges?

It may be possible for a person accused of indecent exposure to defend themselves by claiming that they:

  • Did not intend the exposure
  • Were not aware they were in public
  • Didn't know that they could be seen by others
  • Didn't know that the act(s) would cause offense

Of course, every case is unique, and there's no single explanation that will account for every instance of exposure. If you've been charged with indecent exposure, the best option is to contact the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team. An experienced, compassionate, and non-judgmental lawyer, Attorney Lento always keeps the best interests of his clients top of mind.

To learn more about how the Lento Law Firm team can help you, call 888.535.3686 or click here.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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