Minnesota law defines indecent exposure as purposefully displaying one’s private body parts or genitals inappropriately in public, causing others to be disturbed or alarmed. Below, we take a closer look at what actions constitute indecent exposure, the potential penalties, and how a defense lawyer can assist if you’re wrongfully charged with indecent exposure in Minnesota.
What Constitutes Indecent Exposure?
Indecent exposure can include any of the following:
- Public lewdness
- Public nudity
Although often a misdemeanor, indecent exposure can sometimes result in a felony charge and may be classified as a sex offense. For example, if a minor is involved or if sexual contact is made, an indecent exposure charge can become a sexual assault charge. This could result in being registered as a sex offender—usually a lifelong requirement that negatively impacts housing and employment opportunities.
Indecent exposure charges are not confined to public places. A person can be charged with indecent exposure on his or her own property. “Inappropriate” clothes (such as a Speedo or risque swimsuit) can also result in an indecent exposure charge depending on the situation.
If the incident is determined to be a misdemeanor, the offender will face the possibility of up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $1,000. Subsequent incidents, or indecent exposure that takes place in front of someone under the age of 16, may be tried as gross misdemeanor criminal sexual conduct, which carries the potential penalties of up to a year in jail and fines up to $3,000. The court may also order whether or not the offender must attend counseling or register on the criminal sexual offender registry. Felony incidents, which are severe and involve the presence of a minor, carry up to five years in jail and fines up to $10,000, and they also may require extensive time on the sexual offender registry.
It’s worth noting that there is an exception for breastfeeding mothers. It is legal for mothers to breastfeed their infants in public even though they are technically exposing themselves.
Minnesota Sex Crimes Attorneys
There are several ways a Minnesota criminal sexual conduct attorney can defend an indecent exposure charge, including:
- Victim consent
- Lack of factual evidence
- Mistaken identity
Witnesses are incredibly important in indecent exposure cases. Lack of intent is sometimes a strategic defense. This occurs when a person accidentally exposes themselves indecently. The exposure could have been normal by the standard of most but still offensive to one individual. Likewise, sometimes people make false allegations for purposes of revenge. These can all lead to indecent exposure charges.
The consequences of an indecent exposure offense are devastating. Those convicted of indecent exposure often face a lifetime of social stigma and inconvenience, not to mention jail time and fines. Early intervention by an experienced criminal defense attorney will help you avoid harsh penalties that go along with indecent exposure. For more information, contact Avery and the team at Appelman Law Firm today at (952) 224-2277.