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Illinois Charges Indecent Exposure

Indecent exposure, also known as public indecency, is a crime that you do not want on your record. First and foremost, you cannot be charged with indecent exposure for urinating in public. You can only be charged with indecent exposure for having sex with another person in public or exposing yourself for the purpose of arousal. You can be charged with a different crime for public urination, but the way the Illinois statute works, indecent exposure is always a sex crime. A Chicago indecent exposure attorney can help you navigate the legal process if you have been charged with public indecency.

What Indecent Exposure is Not

Indecent exposure has nothing to do with public urination or breastfeeding in public. An arresting officer may not know this, however, because the laws of other states may not be so discriminating. We occasionally see clients who are charged under the indecent exposure statute who had no intent to commit a sex act or sex crime. Under Illinois law, there must be sexual intent. Indecent exposure is always a sex crime.

Two Forms of Indecent Exposure

There are two forms of indecent exposure. The first involves having sex with another person in public. You are not allowed to do this. The second involves "flashing" someone for sexual gratification. Flashing carries potential felony charges especially if the conduct was committed within 500 feet of a school or the defendant has multiple indecent exposure convictions against them.

The worst penalties for indecent exposure are a Class 4 felony in Chicago and Cook County. However, certain elements of the crime, especially if there is an unwilling victim who was exposed to unwanted nudity, can be cause to place your name in the sex offender registry. This is definitely something you do not want.

You must be over the age of 17 to qualify for indecent exposure charges.

Common Types of Indecent Exposure
  • Having sex in your car
  • Flashing
  • Sending nude pics on social media or cyberflashing

Nude pics, or cyberflashing, is covered under a different statute, but efforts are underway to extend the criminal conduct to indecent exposure. As of right now, cyberflashing is not treated the same way as in-person flashing.

Indecent Exposure in Your Own Home

Yes, you can be charged for indecent exposure in your own home. In Illinois, the intent of the act is the most important element. If you are intending to arouse sexual desire by walking around your own home naked and being seen by others, then it can be argued that your crime fits the elements of the statute. In these cases, the defendant has a better foundation for defense and can argue that they did not realize they were visible to the outside world. However, a lot of people get really upset when they are told what they can and cannot do in their own homes. Someone files a complaint and the police arrive to describe the complaint. When asked whether or not they want to do it the easy way or the hard way, they dig in and assert their rights. The police get angry and the individual is taken down to the station and charged with indecent exposure. Nonetheless, accidental exposure is not a criminal act. Subsequent acts once there exists a police report will be considered intentional and thus trigger the statute.

It bears repeating, the crime of indecent exposure is less concerned with where the act occurred and more concerned about whether or not there were unwilling victims.

Is Mooning Someone Indecent Exposure?

The element of an indecent exposure offense in Illinois that is important to the question of "mooning" (showing someone your butt) is whether or not the crime was done for the purpose of sexually arousal. Pranking someone generally does not qualify under the statute. It is important to remember that in Illinois, indecent exposure is always a sex crime. You can be charged with disorderly conduct or a similar violation, but mooning generally does not qualify as an act likely to sexually arouse a defendant.

Defenses to Indecent Exposure

There are two main considerations that a prosecutor has when analyzing indecent exposure charges. If two individuals are committing a sex act in public, then both individuals can be charged with indecent exposure. This includes your car. The emphasis is less on your physical location and more on whether or not unwilling people are likely to see you. This presents a potential defense. If you are in an area that is technically a public place but there is little chance that anyone will see you, then you can defeat the charges.

Flashing is more difficult because there is an obvious victim. However, the prosecution must establish that your main intent was your own sexual gratification. Of course, this can be assumed unless you are attempting to urinate or you spilled some coffee down your pants.

The Importance of Not Taking a Plea

If you have been charged with indecent exposure in Illinois, you want to be very careful about accepting a plea agreement. Prosecutors are not looking to put you behind bars for years. Instead, what they want is to place your name in the sex offender registry. They may offer what appear to be sweetheart deals, no jail time for instance. This is unlikely to be a very good deal. You are only facing misdemeanor charges and the burden of proof for the prosecutor remains high. If you accept a plea and plead guilty to indecent exposure, your name will be placed in the sex offender registry permanently changing the course of your life, the number of opportunities available to you, and your ability to retain housing and employment. A plea agreement involving indecent exposure is an incredibly risky proposition. You will want to discuss the matter with an attorney before accepting any plea.

The Bottom Line: Find a Chicago Indecent Exposure Attorney

In the grand scheme of things, flashing or public lewdness may not seem like a serious sex crime, but if you do not want your name to end up on the sex offender registry, you will need a Chicago criminal defense lawyer. Call David L. Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.