In Pennsylvania, as in many states, indecent exposure and lewd behavior in public are crimes. Unfortunately, an officer may arrest you for indecent exposure or open lewdness based on an accident, misunderstanding, or simple mistake. You need to understand the charges against you because indecent exposure and public lewdness are sexually based offenses. If convicted of one of these crimes, you face serious repercussions and embarrassing stigmas, even if the offense was a misdemeanor.
Sex crimes in Pennsylvania are heavily prosecuted and carry steep penalties. For a misdemeanor indecent exposure or open lewdness offense, you face jail time, expensive penalties, and the burden of a criminal record. A conviction changes the course of your life. Let a West Chester indecent exposure and public lewdness attorney help you pursue a favorable outcome. Skinner Law Firm will fight for the charges to be dropped, a pretrial dismissal, or an acquittal. Contact us today at (610) 436-1410 or submit your information online to set up a free and confidential consultation.
Under 18 PA Cons Stat §3127, a prosecutor can charge you with indecent exposure if you expose your genitals in any public place or in anywhere there are people who you know or should know your conduct is likely to offend, affront, or alarm.
For example, if you reveal your genitals while standing on a crowded sidewalk, you could be charged with indecent exposure. A prosecutor would argue you knew the conduct would offend someone, yet you did it regardless.
Other possible scenarios that could lead to indecent exposure charges include:
If a police officer arrested you for indecent exposure, even though you did not mean to offend or alarm anyone, contact an indecent exposure criminal attorney immediately.
A prosecutor can charge you with a second-degree misdemeanor for indecent exposure. If you knew or should have known a minor under 16 years old was present, a prosecutor will charge you with a first-degree misdemeanor. However, a lower offense than indecent exposure is open lewdness. Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to negotiate the charges being reduced to a third-degree misdemeanor.
Pennsylvania law does not penalize mothers who breastfeed their children. Breastfeeding may not be considered a nuisance, obscenity or indecent exposure under this law, according to 35 PA Cons Stat §636.1.
Separate from indecent exposure in Pennsylvania is the crime of open lewdness. Under 18 PA Cons Stat §5901, a prosecutor can charge you with a third-degree misdemeanor if you perform any lewd act that you know other individuals who would be affronted or alarmed will see.
It is critical to note the open lewdness statute does not require you to be in public. It merely requires that others observe your lewd behavior. The statute also does not require you to expose your genitals. Revealing your genitals would entail open lewdness, but doing so is not required for a prosecutor to charge you. Open lewdness can involve a wide range of sexual or nude behavior.
Additionally, to obtain a conviction, a prosecutor does not have to prove you intended to alarm or offend anyway. Your specific intent is not necessary.
If an officer arrests you, and you learn you are being charged with open lewdness, contact a public lewdness criminal lawyer right away.
Indecent exposure generally is a second-degree misdemeanor. This level of offense is punishable by up to two years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both. If you exposed yourself to someone younger than 16 years old, indecent exposure is a first-degree misdemeanor. This offense can be penalized with up to five years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both.
Open lewdness is a third-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail, fines up to $2,500, or both.
The law does not necessarily require a judge to sentence you to incarceration for a misdemeanor conviction. By working with an indecent exposure and public lewdness attorney, you have a better chance of avoiding jail or prison time and receiving probation.
Although being charged with a sex crime can be overwhelming, there may be defenses to your case.
Some defenses may not apply to certain situations. A West Chester indecent exposure and public lewdness criminal attorney can examine your case and determine what approach is best.
Possible defenses to indecent exposure and open lewdness charges include:
If a prosecutor charges you with indecent exposure or public lewdness in West Chester, Phoenixville, Kennett Square, Oxford, Coatesville, or anywhere in Chester County, contact an experienced attorney with the Skinner Law Firm immediately. Michael J. Skinner and his team will guide you through this sensitive situation and fight to have the charges reduced or dropped. When prosecutors insist on moving forward, our goal will be to obtain a pretrial dismissal or acquittal at trial. We will always fight hard for the best possible outcome in your case.