In Texas, indecent exposure is a Class B misdemeanor, not a felony.
But it’s still a crime, and punishments upon conviction can include up to 180 days in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000—not to mention the shame and humiliation which accompanies many sex crimes.
In addition, those convicted may even have to register as a sex offender.
That’s why it’s vital to guard against committing an inadvertent exposure, and it’s also vital to protect your legal rights if you are charged with indecent exposure in Texas.
Lake Conroe case makes news
Houstonians may have recently heard about an indecent exposure case on the local news. A 68-year-old man from The Woodlands was arrested in Montgomery County. He was charged with indecent exposure for allegedly exposing himself to a young woman, age 19, on Lake Conroe.
The alleged incident occurred last April. The man was arrested on Monday, Aug. 31, following a months-long investigation by the Montgomery County Precinct 1 Sheriff’s Office Marine Division.
According to Houston’s KTRK ABC 13, authorities said the young woman told them she’d been on her jet ski on Lake Conroe in April when a man approached in his boat and asked if she needed a ride. She said she noticed the man was naked.
Having notified authorities about that incident, she later observed the same man on his boat and took a picture of the boat with her phone. The arrest came after she saw the man again on Aug. 11, when he parked his boat near her and entered the water.
Authorities are seeking any possible additional victims.
Indecent exposure penalties
Defendants in an indecent exposure case are more likely to face the most severe penalties when they’ve already been convicted of indecent exposure in the past, rather than being a first-time offender.
Also, Texas law holds that an indecent exposure charge—normally a Class B misdemeanor—can rise to a third-degree felony if the defendant knowingly exposed himself or herself in the presence of a minor, or a child younger than 17 years old. Punishments for such a felony include a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of 2 to 10 years.
Those severe penalties for indecency with a child hold true even if the defendant has no prior criminal record.
Texas laws for sex crimes are much more harsh when a child or minor is a victim.
Persons who are convicted of indecent exposure in Texas also may have to register as a sex offender, especially if they have had more than 1 conviction for the crime.
What is indecent exposure?
As for what constitutes indecent exposure in this state, Texas indecent exposure law holds that:
“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.”
Indecent exposure legal defenses
Yet, perhaps the exposure was inadvertent or misconstrued. Not everyone who’s arrested or charged with indecent exposure is guilty of the crime. Such persons need an indecent exposure legal defense.
An experienced indecent exposure defense lawyer for Houston, The Woodlands, Conroe, Sugarland or elsewhere in Harris County, Montgomery County or Fort Bend County can protect an accused person’s legal rights.
How can this be done?
That depends on the circumstances of each case.
In some cases, it may be shown that there was an absence of intent in the exposure, meaning that there was no intent to arouse, which is among the criteria for this crime.
Also, though intoxication may not mitigate a charge of indecent exposure, establishing intoxication may aid in reducing a sentence by showing that the defendant was not aware of what they were doing.
There’s also the possibility that the alleged victim, if known by the defendant, made a false accusation in order to get revenge for a perceived misdeed.
When to contact an experienced Houston defense lawyer
With indecent exposure punishments in Texas being so severe, it’s vital to face the challenge of a charge head-on. That means hiring an experienced defense lawyer.
If you or a family member face a charge of indecent exposure in the Houston area, you should engage a skilled and knowledgeable Houston sex crime defense attorney to protect your legal rights.