Watch this video of David talk about charges of Indecent Exposure in Arizona.
Have you been charged with Indecent Exposure in Arizona? If you are facing charges of indecent exposure, a conviction could result in lifelong consequences. If you attempt to defend yourself against indecent exposure charges without the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, you may be given the maximum allowed sentence. You need to talk to an experienced sex crimes lawyer if you are facing charges of indecent exposure.
What are the Indecent Exposure Laws in Arizona?
Indecent exposure is codified as a crime in Arizona under A.R.S. § 13-1402. According to this statute, you may be charged with indecent exposure if you expose your anus, genitals, or the nipple or areola of your breast if you are a female. Under this statute, you cannot be prosecuted for indecent exposure for exposing your nipple or areola if you are breastfeeding. The statute makes the previously listed acts illegal when the exposure is done in the presence of another person and when the defendant is reckless concerning whether a reasonable person would be alarmed or offended by the exposure.
The important elements of this crime are whether the person acted recklessly and whether a reasonable person would be offended. For example, a person who walked by a window in his or her house while naked would not necessarily be acting recklessly if someone outside happened to see him or her. By contrast, a person who purposely stands in the window and exposes himself or herself to someone who he or she knows is present in reckless disregard of whether that person might be offended could be charged with indecent exposure.
Aggravated Indecent Exposure
The indecent exposure statute allows harsher penalties for people who are convicted of aggravated indecent exposure. The aggravating factors can be found in A.R.S. § 13-701 and could include the following factors in addition to other aggravators:
- When the victim is over the age of 65 or has a disability
- When you have an accomplice
- If you committed indecent exposure as a public servant
- If you were impersonating a police officer when you committed indecent exposure
- If you wore a mask or other disguise during the offense to prevent being identified
Indecent Exposure vs. Public Sexual Indecency
Some people confuse indecent exposure and public indecency. While both are punishable crimes in Arizona, they involve different offense elements. Indecent exposure only requires a single person to expose his or her genitals, anus, or the areola or nipple around the female breast in a reckless manner and in the presence of someone else who as a reasonable person might be offended.
Public sexual indecency involves more than an indecent exposure and requires more than one person to commit the offense. Under A.R.S. § 13-1403, public indecency occurs when two or more people engage in a public sex act, oral intercourse, or sexual intercourse. If you are charged with public indecency, the prosecutor will be required to prove that you were wreckless at the acts in which you engaged offended or alarmed the people who witnessed them. If you are charged with public indecency, you may be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor or a class 5 felony. It is a class 5 felony if the indecent act was done to a minor who was younger than age 15.
If you are charged with indecent exposure or public sexual indecency, you might think that you cannot defend against the charges or secure a reduced sentence. However, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to identify defenses that might be raised on your behalf and negotiate with the prosecutor for a lesser offense, a reduced sentence, or a dismissal of the charges against you.
Punishments for Charges of Indecent Exposure?
Indecent exposure may be charged as a class 1 misdemeanor when the person who witnessed the exposure is at least 15 years old or older. When the person who witnessed the exposure is under the age of 15, the crime may be charged as a class 6 felony.
If you are convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor offense of indecent exposure, you may receive the following penalties:
- Probation for up to 3 years
- Zero days in jail up to 6 months in jail
- Fine of up to $2,500
- Additional 84% surcharge on any imposed fines
- Potential for counseling or classes as a condition of probation
If the victim was under age 15, and you are convicted of a Class 6 felony indecent exposure, you may face the following penalties for a first conviction:
- Zero days in jail up to 1 year in jail
- Prison ranging from 4 months up to 2 years
If you are convicted of felony indecent exposure with one prior felony conviction, the prison time that you might face will be 9 months up to 2.75 years. If you are convicted of felony indecent exposure when you have two prior felony convictions, your potential prison time may range from 2.25 years to 5.75 years.
If you are convicted of a felony indecent exposure and have two or more prior felony convictions for indecent exposure or public sexual indecency to a minor under the age of 15, you will face a sentence to prison ranging from a mitigated term of 6 years, a presumptive sentence of 10 years, or a aggravated sentence of 15 years in prison.
For a felony indecent exposure conviction, you may also be assessed fines of up to $150,000. In addition to the fines, you may also have to pay an 84% surcharge. You can also be sentenced to serve 3 years of probation with counseling in addition to your prison sentence and fine.
Having to Register as a Sex Offender
A conviction for indecent exposure may also result in you being required to register as a sex offender in Arizona. If you are convicted of a second or subsequent indecent exposure to someone who is younger than 15 or a third or subsequent conviction of indecent exposure, you will be required to register as a sex offender.
Legal Defenses to Indecent Exposure Charges
Several potential defenses might be available to you if you have been charged with indecent exposure. The defenses that you might raise will depend on what occurred in your case. Some of the possible defenses that you might raise include the following:
- The witness to the offense was not a reasonable person
- You were not reckless in your actions
- Your Miranda rights were violated
- The police denied your rights to counsel
An important defense to indecent exposure charge involves showing that reasonable people who witnessed the exposure would not have been alarmed or offended. For example, if you were charged with indecent exposure when you were in a video booth at an adult bookstore, you might argue that another person who witnessed your exposure in the adult bookstore video booth would not reasonably be alarmed or offended by it. This is because the sexual nature of the merchandise in the bookstore and the sexual activities that are depicted should mean that a reasonable person who is inside of the bookstore would not be alarmed or offended by an indecent exposure there.
The statute also requires that you must have acted recklessly in regard to whether someone else might see you and be offended or alarmed. If you were attempting to hide what you were doing, you might argue that you were not reckless since you were trying to prevent others from seeing your exposure.
For example, police officers commonly patrol certain parks and bookstores to catch people exposing themselves or engaging in acts of sexual indecency. If an officer looked in a video booth at an adult bookstore or walked up to your parked car to peek inside to catch you exposing yourself, you might argue that the officer was not acting as a reasonable person in feigning offense or alarm and that you were not reckless.
Defending Your Constitutional Rights
Another potential defense that might be available to you may involve self-incriminating statements that you have made during a custodial interrogation. Under the U.S. Constitution, you have the right to remain silent and the right against self-incrimination. Whenever a police officer has you in his or her custody, these rights attach. The officer must also read you your Miranda rights. If the officer failed to advise you of your rights and conducted a custodial interrogation of you in which you made inculpatory statements, your attorney may file a motion asking the court to suppress all statements that you subsequently made and any additional evidence the police were able to collect as a result of your statements.
Similarly, you have a right to an attorney when you have been charged with a crime because of the potential for the loss of your liberty. When you are arrested and ask for an attorney, the police officers are supposed to stop questioning you. If an officer continued to question you after you asked for a lawyer, he or she has violated your right to an attorney. If this occurred in your case, an experienced lawyer might file a motion to suppress any statements that you made after the denial of your right to counsel.
There might be other constitutional problems with the prosecutor’s case against you as well. For example, unconstitutional searches, stops, and seizures may all warrant the filing of evidentiary motions seeking to suppress the evidence against you. Your lawyer may also analyze your case to see if the police committed any other errors during their investigation. For example, if you were also charged with other crimes in addition to indecent exposure, your lawyer might look at any testing that was done to see if any errors were made.
A very common defense strategy is to demonstrate to the court that the police wrote misleading reports that include falsehoods, misstatements of the facts, and other problems. These types of problems may help the jury to question the credibility of the arresting officer who wrote the report.
Why it is Important to Hire a Sex Crimes Lawyer
A conviction of indecent exposure may result in severe consequences, including probation, jail or prison time, stiff fines, and counseling or classes. Depending on your particular case, you might also be required to register as a sex offender for a lengthy period.
Even after your sentence has been completed and discharged, a sex offense conviction on your record can cause lifelong collateral consequences. You may have trouble finding a job or a place to live. You may also face restrictions on where you can live and may face consequences for any professional license that you might have.
The potential consequences of indecent exposure should not be taken lightly. You should talk to a criminal defense attorney who has experience in defending against indecent exposure and other sex crimes allegations. At DM Cantor, our attorneys are experienced sex crime lawyers who have amassed an incredible track record of success in defending our clients against sex offense allegations
David M. Cantor is an AV® rated Certified Criminal Law Specialist and an expert in all areas of criminal law. DM Cantor has the proven track record when it comes to defending the serious charges of Indecent Exposure.