West Chester

Indecent Exposure and Public Lewdness Lawyer

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.

Pennsylvania Indecent Exposure Law

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:

  • Urinating in public;
  • Consensual sexual activity in public;
  • Running through a public area naked (Streaking);
  • Quickly exposing your breasts, buttocks, or genitals to a specific person or group of people (Flashing); and
  • Exposing your breasts, buttocks, or genitals while in your own home but in view of the public, such as standing naked near a window.

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.

Breastfeeding in Public Is Not Illegal

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.

Public Lewdness in Pennsylvania

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 & Public Lewdness Penalties

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.

Defenses to Indecent Exposure and Public Lewdness

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:

  • Accidental Exposure: We may argue you lacked intent to expose yourself and did so by accident. If exposure of your breasts, buttocks, or genitals was due to another person’s conduct, we might argue that you were the victim of the circumstances.
  • No Exposure: We may provide the court with evidence that no lewd exposure occurred. For example, you may have been wearing nude underwear that was exposed.
  • Insufficient Evidence: If a prosecutor charges you with indecent exposure or public lewdness based on a single person’s testimony, we might argue there is insufficient evidence to convict you.
  • Actions Were Not Alarming or Offense: You may be facing charges because one person or officer over-reacted. We may argue that your actions were not alarming or offensive to a reasonable person.
  • Not in Public: We may argue that your conduct occurred in private.
  • No One Could See: We may provide evidence that though you were in public, no one was around to see what you were doing. This may defeat a necessary element of the crime.
  • At Home: It is possible to be charged with indecent exposure or open lewdness from conduct that takes place in your home. We will argue that you were entitled to privacy at home and were unaware that people could or would look inside.

Call Skinner Law Firm for Help

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.

Contact us online or call (610) 436-1410 today and set up a free and confidential consultation

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