What Are Public Lewdness (Indecent Exposure) Charges in Texas?
Everything you need to know when charged with public lewdness in Texas
A sex crime conviction can drastically change a person’s life overnight. From having to register as a sex offender to background checks, the appearance of a Texas sex crime on your record can have far-reaching consequences in your life.
Although the term “sex crime” has a very dark connotation, offenses like public lewdness and indecency are crimes that typically don’t involve violence or minors. In fact, some public lewdness charges don’t even involve sex. These crimes are often misdemeanor offenses in Texas.
Indecent exposure offenses in Texas
Texas defines “indecent exposure” as revealing your anus or any part of your genitals with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person. In order to prove indecent exposure, the state must prove the accused behaved recklessly regarding whether any person who would be alarmed or offended was present at the time of the alleged offense, such as a child.
According to Texas law, someone who behaves recklessly is aware of a substantial, unjustifiable risk associated with their conduct, but they consciously disregard that risk. The law doesn’t require you to be in a public location at the time of the offense. State law also doesn’t specify how long the genitals must be exposed before the exposure can be considered indecent.
What is considered “public lewdness” in Texas?
Texas law prohibits engaging in sexual activity in public places. The law specifically bans:
- Sexual intercourse
- Deviate sexual intercourse
- Sexual conduct
- Any contact between a person’s mouth or genitals and the anus or genitals of an animal or fowl
Sexual intercourse is exclusively defined by Texas statutes as the penetration of a woman by a man. Deviate sexual intercourse is any contact between the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another. It also includes penetration of the anus or genitals with an object. Sexual contact is any touching of the breasts, genitals or anus with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual urge of another person.
A public place is anywhere the public or a substantial group of the public has access, including common areas of apartment communities. Nevertheless, Texas’ public lewdness laws are broad enough to include acts that take place in private areas where others may be offended.
Penalties for breaking public lewdness laws in Texas
Public lewdness is a Class A misdemeanor in Texas. If convicted, a defendant may face up to 1 year incarceration and/or a fine of up to $4,000. The court may also order community service and probation.
In contrast, indecent exposure is classified as a Class B misdemeanor. If convicted, a judge may sentence the defendant to up to 180 days in jail and order the defendant to pay up to $2,000 in fines.
Beyond criminal court implications, there are additional legal and social drawbacks offenders experience after a sex crime conviction. Employers may be less likely to hire you upon discovering a sex offense on your background check. Joining private organizations or attending school may be more difficult as well.
Having a sex offense on your record can also be damaging to your social reputation. Background checks don’t necessarily reveal the nature of the offense. Therefore, those who view the results are left to speculate about the details of the nature of the offense.
Possible defenses to a public lewdness charge
For those who are accused of public lewdness, there are multiple approaches to building a strong defense to avoid conviction. For starters, your attorney may try to establish a lack of sexual intent at the time of exposure. Your attorney may also attempt to overcome the charge by establishing your state of mind. If the attorney is able to establish that you didn’t intend for anyone to see the exposure, acquittal is more likely.
The first step to overcoming a sex offense is to contact a seasoned Texas sex crimes attorney. Contact the Neal Davis Law Firm to receive a confidential case evaluation and learn more about how we can defend your case.
Our courteous, compassionate team will gather the facts of your case and work diligently to defend your rights as well as preserve your reputation. You don’t have to face a sex crime charge alone. Contact our team today.