Legal Term Tuesday: Indecent Exposure


Legal Term Tuesday: Indecent Exposure

Justin Lavelle

July 22, 2015

_This is the latest entry in BeenVerified’s legal term library designed to help you better understand public record information, criminal records and related terminology. The information in this article is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.


See something you shouldn’t have? You may have been the victim of indecent exposure. While indecent exposure in many states simply equates to the intentional exposure of the genitals in a public setting, other states, such as California, have a more nuanced law in place. In these states indecent exposure must come with the proof of a desire to sexually offend or insult a member of the public, according to FindLaw.

Indecent exposure is a highly variable crime depending on state culture. From the liberal Californian requirements mentioned above, other states, such as Arizona, take a much more aggressive stance on this crime, including the exposure of nipples, according to FreeAdvice. This could put breastfeeding women in a difficult position.

Indecent exposure charges, which typically live in the misdemeanor category of offenses, can quickly be upgraded to felonies if any touching of a victim occurs. This upgrades the crime from mere indecent exposure to potentially sexual assault. An additional consideration in indecent exposure cases is if a child is present at the scene of an alleged crime. Most states provide for elevated charges if such an event occurs in the presence of a child, according to FindLaw.

Will indecent exposure show up on an individual’s public record? Sorry, but yes. Like most misdemeanor and felony charges, convictions related to indecent exposure will show up on a public records search. If you have been convicted of indecent exposure you may feel the need to change or alter your name, but keep in mind that most effective online public records searches will also collect aliases associated with an original identity.

Celebrities who have faced indecent exposure charges at one point in their lives include Brad Pitt, The Doors’ Jim Morrison and Paul Reubens, AKA Peewee Herman.

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.