Public indecency is a serious crime that can see one do jail time if convicted. There are several acts in public which qualifies as public indecency and being oblivious of these could land you in trouble with the law.
Public indecency definition
Public indecency is a term used to describe all manner of public display of lewdness, sexual activity or public obscenity. There are several forms of public indecency and the charges one faces would depend on the form of public indecency and the circumstances.
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 examples
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 prison time and fines as penalty, In states like Georgia, Arizona and California, one would be required to also 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”
Public indecency charges
The charges one could face for public indecency come in two forms which in turn depend on the circumstances, and the age of the victims. They are:
- Misdemeanor charges – This is the lowest and least punitive charge one could face for public indecency. This is charge is applied when minors aren’t victims of the indecent act in public. Misdemeanors usually carry a maximum jail time of 1 year and or fines.
- Felony Charges – This is the charge one faces for public indecency especially when minors are victims of the indecent act in public. Felony charges carry a prison sentence of over 1 year.