A unique and specialized part of my criminal practice involves handling Michigan indecent and aggravated indecent exposure (IE) cases in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, as well as a few surrounding areas. I make no secret that my interest in this area springs from my undergraduate background in psychology and my post-graduate work in the field of addiction studies. Combined with my role as a criminal lawyer, I work hard in IE cases to make sure the court perceives my client as neither a dangerous criminal nor some kind of mentally unstable, mad flasher. It is very easy to go one way or the other with this; keeping the balance, however, requires a certain amount of deftness and skill, but it is absolutely necessary to produce the best outcome in any IE case.
As a general rule, most people will “over-pathologize” indecent exposure situations, especially where a man has exposed himself in order to be seen. You can get a good idea of how nearly instinctive this is if you simply describe a situation where a guy in a car exposes himself to someone (usually, but not always, a woman) and wait for someone to say “That’s sick,” or something similar. If I only had to worry about how outsiders perceive the situation, however, my job would be ridiculously simple. Instead, the most important task I have is to manage the perception of those who matter most; the prosecutor and the Judge. As I have pointed out in other articles, having a thorough knowledge of the facts of a particular case and knowing the relevant law are mere starting points for a lawyer.
In a criminal case, the best result is achieved through combining knowledge of the facts and the relevant law with the careful management of perception, science and time. This is a universal truth, and applies in every criminal case that has ever taken place and will ever take place, whether the case is resolved by a plea, a jury trial, or is thrown out of court by the Judge. To that end, it seems rather fundamental that a lawyer trying to bring about the best result in any kind of IE case needs to understand, before anything else, what underlies the behavior at issue. How can a lawyer effectively communicate to others his or her client’s situation unless he or she understands it in the first place? This is not to suggest that a lawyer should “play doctor,” or, in this case, psychologist, even if he or she is trained in that field. However, it is equally troublesome for a lawyer to simply “punt” and send the client to be evaluated by some therapist. To really make things better, knowing exactly what therapist to employ is critically important…