The degree of sex crimes with which a person can be charged in Oklahoma ranges in severity from violent crimes resulting in bodily injury to offenses that require no physical contact at all. Even if a defendant never even touched the alleged victim, he or she can be convicted of a sex crime that leads to decades in prison. Upon release from prison, the convicted sex offender must then register as such, giving public notification of his or her crime, and facing numerous restrictions on housing, employment, and other such liberties once taken for granted.
One such no-contact sex offense is indecent exposure. Flashing, streaking, or other public displays of one’s private parts can lead to felony conviction and 15 years of Oklahoma sex offender registration as a Level 1 sex offender.
If a person is accused of indecent exposure, securing legal defense representation is critical for protecting his or her rights and freedoms. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help prevent a suspect from making serious errors that could jeopardize the case and ruin a defense. If you are questioned by police or arrested for indecent exposure, do not attempt to clarify the situation, and do not try to explain yourself. Instead, protect your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and take your Miranda “right to remain silent” very seriously. Decline to answer investigator’s questions and immediately insist upon a lawyer to provide the legal counsel you need to beat the charge or avoid unnecessarily harsh punishment.
While indecent exposure may seem like a relatively minor offense, the consequences can be severe. It is important to understand what indecent exposure is and what it is not.
It quickly becomes clear just how seriously the state of Oklahoma takes acts of indecent exposure when one sees that the statute that deals with indecent exposure also covers child pornography and soliciting a child to perform in child pornography.
Title 21 Section 1021 of the Oklahoma Statutes forbids and penalizes indecent exposure, which it defines as the intentional and lewd exhibition of one’s genitals or body parts in public or in the presence of anyone who would be offended or annoyed by such a display.
While there has been public misconception that a person may be convicted of indecent exposure after an act of public urination, state law was clarified in 2011 to specifically exclude urinating in public as an indecent exposure sex offense. Public urination, unless accompanied by another lewd act defined in the statute, is to be prosecuted as a misdemeanor under Title 21 Section 22—Acts Resulting in Gross Injury:
“Every person who willfully and wrongfully commits any act which grossly injures the person or property of another, or which grossly disturbs the public peace or health, or which openly outrages public decency, including but not limited to urination in a public place, and is injurious to public morals, although no punishment is expressly prescribed therefore by this code, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
Public urination is a misdemeanor classified as public indecency or outraging public decency. It is not a sex offense, and a person convicted under this statute is not required to register as an Oklahoma sex offender.
According to state law, indecent exposure may be punished by incarceration ranging from 30 days in county jail to 10 years in state prison. The associated fines range from $500 to $20,000. Clearly, with such a vast range of penalties possible, it is necessary to have effective defense representation to avoid exaggerated and inappropriate sentencing.
For many people, especially those who receive relatively light sentences, the toughest part of conviction is sex offender registration. Long after the sentence is served, a person convicted of indecent exposure must carry the brand of “Sex Offender” and all of the stigma and restrictions it entails. As a Level I sex offense, indecent exposure requires annual sex offender registration for a term of 15 years.
Indecent exposure to a minor under the age of 16 may be charged and punished much more severely if than the penalties ascribed in the indecent exposure statute. Sex offenses involving children are given wide scope in Title 21 Section 1123—Lewd or Indecent Proposals or Acts to a Child Under 16.
In this statute, it is a felony to touch, solicit, or even look upon a minor child under the age of 16 in a lewd or sexual manner. According to Section 1123(c), it is a crime to willfully “cause, expose, force or require a child to look upon the body or private parts of another person.” While indecent exposure in general carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, lewd or indecent acts or proposals to a child under 16 is punishable by 3 to 20 years in prison. If the victim is under 12, however, the crime carries a minimum sentence of 25 years.
Unlike indecent exposure, which is a Level I sex offense, lewd acts with minors is a Level III sex offense, deemed to be the highest risk of re-offense and the greatest threat to public safety. Level III sex offenders must register for life, providing address verification to local law enforcement at least every three months.
If you are accused of indecent exposure, lewd or indecent proposals or acts to a child, or other sex offense in Oklahoma, there are options available for your defense. Call Coventon Criminal Defense or submit the online form for a confidential, risk-free case review. Let us explain your options and help you fight the charge you face. Call today.