In Oklahoma, you can be charged with a sex crime without any physical contact to a victim at all. Soliciting minors, making lewd proposals to a minor, and possessing child pornography are a few of the offenses which can be prosecuted without sexual assault. Indecent exposure is another.
Indecent exposure can seem relatively harmless, but the consequences are anything but harmless. Although no one is physically assaulted or injured by the act, a “flasher” or exhibitionist faces felony conviction and sex offender registration.
Some registered sex offenders attempt to downplay their offense by telling people that they were forced to register after getting ticketed for public urination. However, state law specifically addresses public urination as excluded from sex offender registration. Trying to pass off an indecent exposure conviction as a public indecency conviction will likely provide short-term relief at best.
Being accused of any sex offense is a serious allegation. You are subject to public embarrassment and strain on your personal and professional relationships. Finding a qualified defense attorney to offer you wise legal counsel and strong defense is crucial to getting your life back on track and putting the criminal charge behind you.
Oklahoma defines indecent exposure in 21 O.S. § 1021, which encompasses not only indecent exposure, but also indecent exhibitions, obscenity, child pornography, and soliciting minors to engage in child pornography.
According to the statute, “Every person who willfully and knowingly . . . lewdly exposes his or her person or genitals in any public place, or in any place where there are present other persons to be offended or annoyed thereby . . .shall be guilty, upon conviction, of a felony and shall be punished by the imposition of a fine of not less than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) nor more than Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000.00) or by imprisonment for not less than thirty (30) days nor more than ten (10) years, or by both such fine and imprisonment.”
In other words, intentionally displaying one’s genitals through public sex, masturbation, or flashing is a felony sex offense punishable by a maximum of ten years in prison.
In 2011, the Oklahoma legislature amended the statute to exclude public indecency as a sex offense. When defining indecent exposure, the law stipulates, “[F]or purposes of this section, a person alleged to have committed an act of public urination shall be prosecuted pursuant to Section 22 of this title unless such act was accompanied with another act that violates paragraphs 2 through 4 of this subsection and shall not be subject to registration under the Sex Offenders Registration Act.”
The state classifies sex offenses into three categories, with each category intended to reflect the offender’s risk to the public. As a Level 1 offense, indecent exposure carries the shortest term of sex offender registration; however, being branded a sex offender for 15 years can seem like a lifetime.
During those 15 years, a person convicted of indecent exposure will have his or her crime and personal information made publicly available on the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry, and he or she must register annually for the duration of the 15 years.
By law, urinating in public is not a sex offense. It is a misdemeanor violation of the Oklahoma’s public indecency statute. Any act that “grossly disturbs the public peace or health” or “openly outrages public decency,” and “is injurious to public morals” is a misdemeanor. This includes public urination, but is not limited to that act.
A couple caught having sex in a public place, if attempting to do so privately, will likely be charged with public indecency rather than indecent exposure. If, on the other hand, the couple are charged with indecent exposure, an experienced defense attorney may be able to successfully have the charge reduced to public indecency.
Rather than being a felony sex crime, public indecency is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in prison and a fine of up to $500.
Indecent exposure requires a person to “willfully and knowingly” expose his or her genitals in a lewd manner. If a person believed his or her acts to be private, then, by definition, he or she is not guilty of indecent exposure.
There are several defenses to indecent exposure, and an attorney with will work to develop the best strategy for your case. Call Law Firm of Oklahoma to speak confidentially with a lawyer about your case.