What to do if you’ve been charged with indecent exposure in TX
You’ve likely seen someone who reveals a bit too much skin in your opinion—whether it’s on television, in a movie or while you’re walking around town. Although this may bother you, it generally isn’t considered a crime under state law.
However, there are circumstances where a person can be charged with “indecent exposure.”
In Texas, someone can be charged with indecent exposure and be sentenced in court based on the person’s criminal background and the exact nature of the crime.
What is indecent exposure?
The general definition of indecent exposure, according to the Texas Penal Code, Chapter 21, is defined as follows:
“A person commits an offense if he exposes his anus or any part of his genitals with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, and he is reckless about whether another is present who will be offended or alarmed by his act.”
An important component of indecent exposure is that the person shows a private area to another person in order to become sexually aroused. If this act is performed while 2 people are in a relationship or the other party agrees or asks for the person to expose a private area, then the person hasn’t committed a crime.
A knowledgeable attorney can review the information provided to determine if the exposure took place between 2 consenting people—or even in a group of people—in order to determine what the consequences could be in court or if the charges could be dismissed.
When the case goes to court, the prosecutor needs to be able to show that there was a clear intent by the person who committed the act and that the people seeing the exposed areas would become upset. In the event that the person committing the crime touched someone else in an unwanted way, then the person could be charged with attempted rape or sexual assault, depending on the exact actions involved.
What are the penalties for indecent exposure in Texas?
After being charged with indecent exposure, the first thing to do would be to contact a defense attorney. You can discuss the details of the incident as well as any criminal history that you have, as the court could impose a stricter sentence if you have similar charges on your record (or if you have a lengthy record in general).
Indecent exposure in Texas is usually a Class B misdemeanor, which means that you likely won’t be sentenced to a long time in jail if you are convicted. Most of the time, this crime results in less than 180 days in jail and a fine that is no more than $2,000.
Your attorney can offer suggestions about the clothes that you should wear and how you should carry yourself when you’re in front of the judge so that you look professional and respectful. The judge could impose a probation sentence if you have no prior charges.
If you’ve been convicted of sex crimes in the past, then the judge will likely sentence you to a harsher penalty. Part of your sentence will usually include registering as a sex offender and staying away from certain areas in the community, such as playgrounds or schools.
If you expose yourself in front of a minor, then your charges could be upgraded. You could face a third-degree felony, which could result in a longer jail or prison sentence of up to 10 years. Fines could be as high as $10,000, and you will likely be required to add your name to the sex offender list.
What are possible defenses for indecent exposure?
Indecent exposure should be taken seriously in Texas. However, it doesn’t mean that you should fear spending the rest of your life in jail. An attorney can work with you to present all of the details of the incident to the court so that you’re put in the best light possible. Character statements can also be obtained to assist with this.
One of the defenses that can be used in court is the absence of intent. If your attorney can show that there was no intent on your part to become aroused during the exposure, then there is a good possibility that the court would dismiss the charge.
If you were intoxicated at the time the exposure occurred, then your attorney can sometimes use that to show that you didn’t know what you were doing at the time and you were outside of your better judgment. (Keep in mind that even though you might not be charged with indecent exposure with this defense, you could still be charged with public intoxication or drug possession, depending on what you were using.)
Another way your attorney could help to have your case dismissed would be to prove that you’re a minor if you were under the legal age of consent when the exposure occurred.
Insanity is another defense that can be used. If you’ve been diagnosed with a mental disorder, then your attorney can often use that to show that you did not know what you were doing when you exposed yourself to another person.
If you’re facing an indecent exposure charge, this is something you should take seriously. You don’t want to risk representing yourself and facing harsher punishment than you would if you had the right attorney on your side.