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What constitutes indecent exposure, and how is it punished?

On Behalf of | Aug 24, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Indecent exposure is considered a sex offense in Tennessee. Anyone who is arrested on such charges should understand the consequences they could face.

Indecent exposure explained

Indecent exposure is a sex crime with the intent of other people seeing the sex acts carried out. The crime can be committed on public property or even in the individual’s home. Under state criminal law, it’s illegal for a person to expose their genitals or buttocks to other people or have any type of sexual contact while in view of others.

It’s also considered indecent exposure when the crime is committed in the presence of a child. For example, a perpetrator brings a child to their home and exposes their genitals to them for the purpose of sexual pleasure. When a child is involved in the commission of the crime, the defendant must be 18 or older while the child must be younger than 13.

Penalties for indecent exposure

A first offense of indecent exposure is considered a class B misdemeanor, which carries a fine of $500. If a child is involved, it could be elevated to a class A misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of up to $1,500 and up to one year in jail.

If the individual has two or more prior convictions for indecent exposure, they can be charged with a class E felony, which carries even more serious penalties: one to six years in prison and a fine of up to $3,000. With three or more convictions for the crime, a person is also required to register as a sex offender.

Defenses for indecent exposure

A solid defense is needed in an indecent exposure case. One is to argue that it was a case of mistaken identity. Or the defense can argue that the person’s genitals were not exposed to the public.

Lack of lewd intent is a common defense. It means that even if the genitals were exposed, it wasn’t for the purpose of sexual gratification.

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