Indecent exposure is a fairly common crime in Atlanta, but not everyone charged is guilty.
People may never imagine themselves facing charges of indecent exposure. However, there are many circumstances that can lead to an arrest. Perhaps a couple becomes intimate on the beach thinking they were alone, or someone drinks one too many alcoholic beverages at a baseball game and ends up streaking across the field. Another common example is when someone simply has to go to the bathroom and does so in a public place.
Whatever the reason for the indecent exposure charges, the consequences if convicted are severe. Some individuals are even required to register on the state’s sex offender registry. A solid defense is needed to fight these charges, and an Atlanta criminal defense attorney can provide it.
Indecent Exposure in Georgia Defined
In Georgia, indecent exposure is defined in the legal statute as public indecency. A person is considered publicly indecent when he or she commits one of the following acts in public:
● Engages in sexual intercourse
● Lewdly exposes his or her genitalia
● Is partially or completely nude in a lewd manner
● Lewdly caresses or fondles the body of another person in an indecent manner
It is important to understand that although Georgia’s statute refers to this offense as public indecency, the crime does not have to occur in public. In Hester v. State, a man was convicted of public indecency while he was in his own home. He would come home from work every night, strip naked, and stand in front of his window. The court ruled that because he could be seen from a nearby highway, he was guilty of the crime.
Penalties for Indecent Exposure
First and second offenses of public indecency are charged as misdemeanor crimes in Georgia. Still, a conviction could mean spending up to one year in prison. Subsequent offenses could result in felony charges, which have a potential sentence of one to five years in prison. When the indecent exposure was done in the presence of a child, a person will also face felony charges.
In addition to these penalties, individuals may also be required to register with Georgia’s sex offender registry. There is a great stigma attached to being listed on this registry. It can make it even more difficult to find a job or housing opportunities than a criminal record alone.
Defenses to Indecent Exposure
While facing charges of public indecency is frightening, there are defenses available. One of the most common is that the act was a mistake. For example, if a man jumped into a swimming pool and lost his shorts before coming to the surface, that is a mistake and should not result in charges. This is particularly true if the man attempted to correct the exposure right away.
When public indecency occurs at night or in a dimly lit area, it is also easy for law enforcement to mistake a person’s identity. They may simply charge the wrong person. This is also a defense to public indecency.
Needing to urinate is not a defense to public indecency, as the courts ruled in Clark v. State. It is expected that if a person has to go to the bathroom, he or she will find the proper facilities to do so. Likewise, being under the belief that no one would see the public indecency is also not a defense to these charges.
Have You Been Charged with Public Indecency? Call Our Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyers
It is easy to see how someone could be charged with public indecency under even the most innocent of circumstances. However, these charges could turn into a conviction. To prevent that from happening, you need an experienced Atlanta criminal defense lawyer. At Ghanayem & Rayasam, we know how serious these charges are, but we also know the defenses to use to help you retain your freedom. Call us today at (404) 561-0202 so we can start reviewing your case.