Public indecency is an umbrella term used to describe all manner of public display of lewdness, sexual activity or public obscenity. The legal requirements for a charge of public indecency vary from state to sate and could include the promotion or public display of obscene material. Public indecency is a serious crime that can see one do jail time if convicted.
Types of Public Indecency
There are several forms of acts that can elicit a charge of public indecency, and depending on the age of those affected, a charge of public indecency could be a felony or a misdemeanor.
Indecent exposure is a form of public indecency when an act publicly exposes ones genitals. While some states may require intent before slapping a charge of indecent exposure, in other states, the mere public exposure of genitals is criminal.
For example, peeing in public may seem like a harmless act, but one can be charged with indecent exposure if others are offended by the act. If minors were victims of the indecent exposure, the act can elicit felony charges that carry jail time and fines as penalty, In states like Georgia, Arizona and California, one would be required to register as a sex offender if convicted of indecent exposure with a minor as witness.
Public display of Lewdness
Public display of lewdness refers to acts that are sexually gratifying or involves sexual activity, committed in public. Compared with indecent exposure, public display of lewdness is intentional and thereby considered a more serious crime. Acts in public considered under public lewdness include sexual activity, masturbation, display of aroused genitals among others.
A person arrested for a lewd conduct in public faces several charges depending on the circumstances and who was victim to the lewd display. If a minor was a witness of the lewd display, offender will face much harsher charges.
Public obscenity involves the display sexually explicit material and the promotion of same in public. For such a material to qualify as obscene, it must fit the test clearly The United States supreme court clearly defines when an act qualifies a public obscenity. The act must:
- Appeal to “prurient interest,” based on “community standards”.
- Depict or describes sexual conduct “in a patently offensive way”.
- “lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value”