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Can you beat indecent exposure charges?

On Behalf of | Sep 28, 2023 | CRIMINAL LAW - Criminal Defense

Indecent exposure often conjures a comical image of a man in a trench coat revealing himself to unsuspecting passersby. In reality, however, indecent exposure is far from humorous for its victims and qualifies as a misdemeanor. But what if your exposure was unintentional, without any motive such as sexual gratification or to cause harm?

What does Maryland consider indecent exposure?

There is no definition of indecent exposure in Maryland statutes. Instead, the state uses common law or previous court cases to define and understand what constitutes indecent exposure. However, the state does have a statute outlining the penalties for indecent exposure.

In general, indecent exposure refers to the intentional display of private body parts, such as the genitalia, buttocks and breasts, in a public place or where others can casually observe them.

Committing the following acts could subject you to indecent exposure charges:

  • Masturbating in public
  • Urinating or defecating in public
  • Flashing or streaking
  • Performing sexual acts in public
  • Mooning

Being nude inside your home, breastfeeding a baby or having a wardrobe malfunction may not fall under indecent exposure. You shouldn’t have a misdemeanor charge unless you intentionally exposed your body parts for others to see.

Fighting an indecent exposure charge

People expose themselves for a variety of reasons, including offending a specific target, seeking attention, sexual gratification or a lack of impulse control.

However, it’s also possible for a person to commit these acts by mistake or without the intention of doing it again. Some might engage in sexual behaviors or expose themselves without realizing that others are present. Others may not be aware of the law or don’t understand how their behavior might offend others.

To fight an indecent exposure charge, you will need to prove that you had no criminal intent, did not actually expose your private area or that there is not enough evidence to show that you performed the act.

An indecent exposure charge could set you back by $1,000, put you in jail for up to three years and require you to register as a sex offender. No matter your reason for performing the act, it is in your best interests for the judge to dismiss your charge. A lawyer could help put your mind at ease and improve the outcome of your case.