Facing a Michigan Indecent Exposure charge is an incredibly frightening experience. There is no need for anyone to compound your worries by highlighting all the potential jail time and other negative consequences that can be imposed by the court. However bad this situation seems at the moment, things usually can be made considerably better, even in cases that seem, by all accounts, to be “clear cut.” I hope this article brings a healthy dose of relief and reality to the subject, and helps reduce the anxiety a person feels as he deals with either an indecent exposure or aggravated indecent exposure case. For my part, I bring over 23 years’ experience as a criminal lawyer in the Detroit-area (meaning Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties) with a sub-specialty in this field. I have, quite literally, handled more of these cases than I can count, so this article is based on real-world experience.
In browsing the web and looking at some of the available information about indecent exposure charges, I came away the distinct impression that much (really too much) of it was fear-based. It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about what I do as a Michigan indecent exposure lawyer, and it seemed like all of my “informational” articles have gotten buried under pages of well-designed sites put by other lawyer who seem preoccupied with describing themselves as ever more “tough” or “aggressive” than the next guy. Hopelessly short on any real information or sense of optimism, these sites simply focus on all of the possible legal sanctions and punishments that can be handed down for either a regular or an aggravated indecent exposure conviction. It seemed like the only point to this exercise was to scare the reader so much he’d call right away.
About the worst thing you can do is “jump” to any lawyer with more fear in your heart than information in you r head. As I noted, despite how things feel or seem, the reality is that they’re probably not nearly as bad as you think.
That said, let’s be clear, rather than naïve; a conviction for either indecent exposure or aggravated indecent exposure isn’t something to brag about. For the most part, however, and with proper legal guidance, dealing with either a simple or an aggravated indecent exposure charge can be more like a bump in the road than any kind of crash. To put it another way, while this is a regrettable situation, it’s not anything to be scared out of your wits about.
In that regard, there are two very important things to get straight in order to begin our discussion. If your case is handled “properly” (and this does not imply that you should be paying outrageous legal fees), then you will almost certainly be kept out of jail, and you will not be put on the Michigan sex offender registry. In fact, winding up on the registry isn’t even a legal possibility in most indecent exposure cases. I have never had a client charged with indecent exposure, or even just aggravated indecent exposure, go to jail.
After all of my years of handling these cases, I understand how a person feels like a “black cloud” has gathered over his head when he has to deal with this situation. It seems like the negativity caused by having to face an indecent exposure charge has tentacles that reach into every corner of your life. Most people explain that, while it’s hard to imagine that there is any light at the end of the tunnel, it is certainly impossible to see any while in the middle of the case.
That will pass. Beyond my experience, I bring both a background (my bachelor’s degree is in psychology) and current involvement (I am formally involved in a post-graduate certification program in the psychology department at the University of Detroit Mercy) in the field of psychology. This is particularly useful because it allows me to protect my clients from being perceived by the court as either a criminal, or as having some kind of mental health problem. Neither of those labels is helpful. In the vast majority of indecent exposure cases I’ve handled, the client has been suffering from some kind of “frustration,” and not an underlying mental health disorder. This can be an anxiety or stress situation, or it can be the result of some dysfunction in his sex life. In fact, it can be as simple as a person just not having an adequate sex life. Whatever the case, these circumstances are usually the underlying realities that boil over and cause a person to “act out” in a way that leads to an indecent exposure charge.
Thus, there is a psychological explanation for these behaviors, and it is important, even if it’s not about some underling psychopathology. Even so, these behaviors still violate a criminal law of the state. Psychologists are wonderful, but once a criminal charge has been made, only a lawyer can help. I help straddle these two worlds by being able to speak the language familiar to prosecutors and judges, and the language of the clinician. I understand that these cases are never just about being “criminal” or some kind of “pervert.” The real goal is to make clear to the court that my client may be experiencing some trouble, but is not “in trouble,” per se, and therefore not in need of an endlessly long term of counseling for some kind of underlying disorder. I have to do what is necessary so that the court and the prosecutor understand this, and that depends heavily on the facts and circumstances of each case.
As I noted above, and despite all the psychology in the world, by the time one of these cases winds up in court, it is a criminal matter. The entire psychiatry department of Harvard won’t do you a bit of good negotiating with the prosecutor. This is where the lawyer has to be a skilled criminal tactician, but also be able to provide a clinical insight to the prosecutor and the court. When years of experience has grown into decades of experience, all the knowledge from both the legal and clinical side of things just merges into a kind of instinct or intuition to know what to do. This is where my background and skill set is unique.
This can, at times, necessitate being “tough” or “aggressive,” but a good defense lawyer will already have the proper measure of those qualities, along with the more refined skills of diplomacy and strategic dexterity. Unless the evidence in an indecent exposure case is questionable, blustering and speaking in platitudes won’t help. Unfortunately, too many clients find my articles after they have given (or even written) a statement to the police. In such a case, a favorable outcome is produced primarily by diplomatic, rather than “fighting” skills. In other words, unless you’re going to go to trial and win an acquittal, you’ll actually wind up spending more money just to make things worse. When the evidence is clear-cut, or there is what amounts to a confession, getting out unscathed is the product of intelligent negotiation. It is generally safe to say that producing the best outcome in any indecent exposure case requires finesse, rather than a sledgehammer.
Whatever the situation, I can help. One of the best ways to find the right lawyer or even surgeon for a particular job would be to ask him or her who they’d hire if they were in your situation. If you’d ask me that question, I could honestly say that I’d want to hire myself, or at least hire someone that I could direct every step of the way. That may sound a bit self-important, but think about it this way: Can you imagine hiring a lawyer whose first choice would be someone else?
In the final analysis, an indecent exposure charge is unique amongst criminal charges. While serious, these cases are seldom as “life threatening” as they feel or seem. This is important to bear in mind as you conduct your search for a lawyer, and should help you steer clear of any practice seeming to prey upon your fears, or any practice that makes a big deal our of framing an examination of this topic in terms of all the bad things that can happen to you, particularly as a set up for huge legal fees. As I’ve noted, most of those scary things aren’t on the menu in the first place, and with proper care, won’t come pass in any event. In fact, in many first offense cases, I can even get my client through the whole case without a permanent record.
As you do your homework and look for the right lawyer, if you have, or expect to face an indecent exposure charge anywhere in Macomb, Wayne or Oakland County, feel free to contact or call (586-228-6523) my office to find out how I answer your questions and address your concerns.