In recent months, I have seen a noticeable increase in the number of Indecent Exposure cases coming into my Practice. Fair warning here: this article is going to use some terms that are not be suitable for children as we take a look at a couple of common themes involved in many of these cases.
In my 20-plus years of handling cases like this, I have come to fully understand how embarrassing, humiliating and frightening this kind of charge is to the person facing it. Likewise, I’m keenly aware that it is important for me to ease my Clients’ mind and help them move past those feelings, as we begin to develop a strategy to handle the case, and make things better.
There are really 2 charges that fall under the umbrella of Indecent Exposure:
The first, and most common, is a Misdemeanor simply called “Indecent Exposure” which carries a maximum penalty of up to 93 days in Jail. It is sometimes linked or written as “Disorderly Person/Indecent Exposure.”
The second, and more serious charge is technically called “Aggravated Indecent Exposure.” This is a Felony charge that carries a maximum penalty of up to 2 years in prison. Felony cases are ultimately handled in the Circuit Court for whatever County in which the case is brought.
The difference between these 2 charges is that Aggravated Indecent Exposure involves fondling of the genitalia. Interestingly, a significant percentage of cases involving such fondling are still brought as regular, Misdemeanor Indecent Exposure charges. To date none of my Clients have been upset about that decision….
The vast majority of Indecent Exposure cases involve a man being charged. Of the hundreds of such cases I have handled, I’ve only seen one or two involving women.
And while there are plenty of cases where some guy gets caught urinating behind a dumpster, or in an alley, quite a few Indecent Exposure cases involve masturbation. This really splits into 1 of 2 things:
Some Indecent Exposure cases involve a man exposing and touching himself, and in some way finding excitement from that. In other words, the person wants to be seen, and derives some kind of satisfaction from what must be the shock value to his audience.
The remainder of Indecent Exposure cases involves a man decidedly NOT trying to be seen. I’ve had cases where guys have been caught masturbating in a parking lot, behind a building, or somewhere where they thought they were safe from prying eyes. In some of these cases, the person has a laptop or other device going. Despite what they thought was safe cover, they got caught.
Once in a rare while, this charge can be made when a couple is getting a little too frisky somewhere where they are seen. These cases are relatively rare, and it’s fair to think that more sympathetic Police Officers simply tell the couple to knock it off and move on.
Things don’t usually work out so well for a guy caught by himself, however.
However humiliating this situation might be, a person facing this kind of charge is going to need competent representation in order to avoid as much of the unpleasantness as possible.
In Misdemeanor cases, the first concern is keeping the charge off the person’s Record.
In Felony cases, avoiding a Felony itself is Job 1. Getting the charge dropped to a Misdemeanor, at the outset, can have all kinds of positive implications for the ultimate disposition of the case.
Beyond the consequences to a person’s Record, avoiding things like Classes and Counseling is also important. I’d be less than honest if I pretended that there isn’t a certain “yuck” factor implicit in how these cases are seen in the Criminal Justice system. It is important to keep the Client from being perceived as some dirty old man in a trench coat hanging around adult bookstores. To do that, I have to get to know my Client. I need to know what the heck was going on in their life that led to this?
Once a person is comfortable that I have only their best interests at heart, they often find it easy (or at least easier) to talk about this situation in the kind of detail necessary to really have an impact on how the case ultimately plays out.
I’ve had Clients who have explained that, in their own homes, there is simply no chance to have any privacy, and they felt being in the back of a parking lot somewhere was their best bet to have a little “alone time.”
In other cases, Clients have admitted that they felt just too pressured from the circumstances of their jobs, lives or families, and found some satisfaction in the shock value of exposing themselves. They explain, and I believe, that there was never any intent to harm anyone.
Whatever the circumstances, facing an Indecent Exposure charge is difficult. But a person must move beyond the embarrassment and humiliation they feel in order to find the right Lawyer for their case. If these cases are handled properly, they can be made into something that, at worst, is merely a “blip” on the radar of a person’s life.