Understanding Indecent Exposure Charges in Texas

Brett Pritchard law firm

Updated on August 23, 2022

Exposing yourself in any way that is deemed indecent in the eyes of the law is against the law, and a conviction for indecent exposure comes with hefty fines and harsh penalties. This is not to mention the immense social stigma involved. If you find yourself facing a charge of indecent exposure, you should not delay consulting with an experienced Florence criminal attorney.

What Is Considered Indecent Exposure in Texas?

Under Texas Penal Code § 21.08, a person can face indecent exposure charges for exposing any part of their genitals or anus to other people with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual arousal of others. A person accused of indecent exposure must be reckless about whether other people might get offended or alarmed by the exposure.

A person who exposes their private parts to others may not face any criminal charges if the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person had the intent to arouse another person. In most cases, urinating in public may not meet the definition of indecent exposure under Texas law unless there was the intent to arouse someone.

It is also important to point out that the definition of indecent exposure does not include female breasts. For this reason, whether or not a woman can be charged with indecent exposure for exposing her breasts to others in public is a tricky question. While the woman may not face indecent exposure charges in Texas, she may be charged with disorderly conduct.

Is It Indecent Exposure?

The law can be quite prudish, and something that you might consider to be a case of letting your hair down may be regarded by the law as full-on indecent exposure. Even if your actions were not sexual in nature and no minors were involved, a conviction could land you on the sex offender registry (which is exactly as serious as it sounds).

Your intention at the time that you are accused of having exposed yourself indecently can play a significant role in your case. Consider the following situations:

  • Were you running from your pool into your home with only a skimpy towel as cover?

  • Did you accidentally lock yourself out of your home in a state of undress, and were you attempting to go back inside?

  • Were you just engaging in a harmless prank in which you were good-naturedly mooning the opposing team at a sporting event?

In these instances, there is clearly no intention on your part to arouse or seriously offend anyone else, which may keep the prosecution from pursuing the matter wholeheartedly. In other words, your perceived intention matters. Contact a Florence criminal defense attorney right away to help you prove that you did not intend to arouse or offend anyone.

Can You Face Indecent Exposure Charges for Being Naked in Your Own Home?

Summers in Texas keep getting longer, drier, and hotter by the year. It is not uncommon for temperatures to rise above 100°F in the summer in Texas, which is why Texans escape the heat by staying indoors with air conditioning or wearing minimal clothing.

However, there are also those who stay indoors with no clothing at all. But can you be charged with indecent exposure for being naked in your own home in Texas?

While you can face indecent exposure charges for being naked in public, you may also be charged with indecent exposure if you expose your genitals or anus to the public while on your private property. A simple example would be to stand completely naked on your porch.

However, even if someone sees you naked in your own home, the prosecution must prove that you had the intent to arouse the person who saw you. It is advised to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you dismiss the charges filed against you for being naked on your private property.

What Are the Penalties for Indecent Exposure in Texas?

A first-time charge for indecent exposure is likely to leave you facing a relatively lenient Class B misdemeanor, which carries up to 180 days in jail and fines of up to $2,000.

If the charge is your second, however, you could find yourself facing a felony charge, which means more time behind bars and steeper fines. You may also be required to register as a sex offender for at least 10 years.

If your indecent exposure is alleged to focus on a child who is not yet 17, the charge can be elevated to indecency with a child by exposure, which is also a felony offense.

In addition, you can face the following penalties for an indecent exposure conviction in Texas:

  • Permanent criminal record

  • Difficulty finding employment

  • Difficulty finding housing

  • Inability to apply for certain jobs

  • Inability to apply for certain educational programs

  • Public humiliation

The stigma of being convicted of indecent exposure—or any other sex crime, for that matter—can last a lifetime. For this reason, it is critical to contact a skilled criminal lawyer if you have been charged with indecent exposure to discuss your defense strategy.

What Are Common Defenses to Indecent Exposure Charges in Texas?

If you have been arrested for or charged with indecent exposure in Texas, an experienced and detail-oriented Florence criminal defense attorney can help you identify the best defense strategy in your particular case. Some of the best defenses to indecent exposure charges include the following claims:

Lack of Exposure

When facing indecent exposure charges, the accused may argue that their genitals were not actually exposed. Without any photographs or videos, the prosecution may not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s private parts were exposed and they had the intent to arouse others.

Lack of Intent

You cannot be convicted of indecent exposure if you lacked the intent to arouse or gratify sexual desire. For example, if you accidentally took your swimsuit off while attempting to remove other outer clothing near a pool, you may not be charged with indecent exposure unless you exposed your genitals on purpose.

For more information about the lack of intent defense, read “Is It Criminal Intent or an Honest Mistake?

Mental Illness

A mental illness is a defense to indecent exposure charges in Texas. A person diagnosed with a mental illness cannot face criminal charges because they lacked the mental capacity to understand what they were doing.

Intoxication

A court may consider the defendant’s level of intoxication when deciding whether or not to charge him or her with indecent exposure. Intoxication can reduce a person’s ability to make rational decisions, and this fact is taken into consideration by the court.

Age

A child is unlikely to have the intent to arouse someone by exposing their genitals or anus in public. For this reason, a small child may not be charged with indecent exposure for being naked in public.

Breastfeeding

Under Texas law, women have the right to breastfeed babies in public. A woman cannot be convicted with indecent exposure if she was exposing her breasts for the purpose of feeding a baby.

Your Future Is Too Important Not to Consult with an Experienced Florence Criminal Lawyer

If you are facing indecent exposure charges in Texas, it is advisable to schedule a case review with a knowledgeable attorney to determine the best defense strategy for you. Get a FREE consultation with our Florence criminal defense lawyers at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard to talk about your situation. Call (254) 781-4222 or contact us online to get a case review.

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