3 Key Tips to Remember if You Are Charged With Indecent Exposure

If you're facing indecent exposure charges, there are some key tips you should remember to improve your odds of a successful outcome for your case. 

1. Don't Panic

The charge is defensible in many cases. Those cases without video evidence supporting the allegation and without the defendant's confession or statement to law enforcement provide the greatest opportunities for success. 

Request a copy of our free guide, Fighting the Guilt Machine, to learn how sex crimes are prosecuted in Oklahoma.  

2. Details Are Extremely Important 

I will need to explore your story and the facts of the incident multiple times. The analysis starts there, with you, and only then moves on to reviewing and dissecting the police reports, videos, witness statements, visiting the scene, taking measurements, etc.

3. Save Everything You Can 

In preparation for meeting with me, write down what happened. Include everything and every detail, including witness names, locations, statements, time, weather, etc.—UNLESS you did it, then DO NOT put anything in writing, ever. Put “Attorney Work Product” at the top of everything you write. You are writing this in anticipation of litigation and to provide to your lawyer at his request.

In many cases, the complexity of defending an indecent exposure charge can be the same as a rape or lewd molestation case. The stigma of a sex crime is still present. The jury will still demand the defendant prove he is innocent, and that same jury will turn our judicial system on its head in a second, with little thought or reservation about the adverse effect or consequences.

So, if you are like a good number of my clients that believed this is a “no-worry” charge and that the worst you are looking at is probation, community service, or a small fine, you know better now. There is more to learn about your case for both of us. 

Indecent Exposure Charges vs. Acts Resulting in Gross Injury 

We get a lot of questions here at the Berlin Law firm regarding peeing in public. The good news, urinating in public is only a misdemeanor in Oklahoma. Urinating in public is charged as outraging in public decency, also known as gross acts resulting in injury, and is a catch-all misdemeanor statute.
If you are in Oklahoma and decide to urinate in public, that is not indecent exposure! Oklahoma Statute 21§OS22 Outraging Public Decency specifically states that it covers urinating in public and is NOT a felony nor a registrable offense. You do not have to register as a sex offender on any level if you plead guilty or a jury or judge convicts you.
The difference in outraging public decency and indecent exposure is when urinating in public, you are doing it for a specific necessary bodily function. The conduct is not lewd or lascivious, meaning you're not urinating in public because you are expressing an eagerness for sexual indulgence.
You're most likely peeing behind a tree or truck because you just finished a big gulp or downed 32-64 ounces of a delicious Coca-Cola beverage and you've got to go tinkle. With the charge of indecent exposure, the criminal felony aspect comes from exposing your genitals in a lewd or lascivious manner meaning "an eagerness for sexual indulgence," and you're doing it in a public place where others could be annoyed or offended by your conduct.
The significant legal difference between the charges is the "lewd and lascivious" element. A basic bodily function is obviously something no one wants to see be done in public, which is why there is still a criminal misdemeanor offense. However, the one that really has the felony sex offender teeth is an indecent exposure charge.
If you've been arrested for urinating in a public place, and the Assistant District Attorney charged you with indecent exposure pick up the phone and give us a call here at Berlin Law Firm. We can help you sort that out right away.

What the Law Says

If you are facing charges for indecent exposure, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the relevant statutes. Understanding the legal criteria for a conviction can help you work with your attorney to develop a stronger defense. 

Oklahoma Statutes Title 21. Crimes and Punishments §21-22. Gross injuries - Grossly disturbing peace - Openly outraging public decency - Injurious acts not expressly forbidden.

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 therefor by this code, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Oklahoma Statutes Title 21. Crimes and Punishments
§21-1021. Indecent exposure - Indecent exhibitions - Obscene material or child pornography - Solicitation of minors.

Every person who willfully and knowingly either:

Lewdly exposes his or her person or genitals in any public place, or in any place where there are present other persons to be offended or annoyed thereby; provided, however, for purposes of this section, a person alleged to have committed an act of public urination shall be prosecuted pursuant to Section 22 of this title unless such act was accompanied with another act that violates paragraphs 2 through 4 of this subsection and shall not be subject to registration under the Sex Offenders Registration Act;

Procures, counsels, or assists any person to expose such person, or to make any other exhibition of such person to public view or to the view of any number of persons, for the purpose of sexual stimulation of the viewer;

Writes, composes, stereotypes, prints, photographs, designs, copies, draws, engraves, paints, molds, cuts, or otherwise prepares, publishes, sells, distributes, keeps for sale, knowingly downloads on a computer, or exhibits any obscene material or child pornography; or

Makes, prepares, cuts, sells, gives, loans, distributes, keeps for sale, or exhibits any disc record, metal, plastic, or wax, wire or tape recording, or any type of obscene material or child pornography, shall be guilty, upon conviction, of a felony and shall be punished by the imposition of a fine of not less than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) nor more than Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000.00) or by imprisonment for not less than thirty (30) days nor more than ten (10) years, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Every person who:

Willfully solicits or aids a minor child to perform; or

Shows, exhibits, loans, or distributes to a minor child any obscene material or child pornography for the purpose of inducing said minor to participate in, any act specified in paragraphs 1, 2, 3 or 4 of subsection A of this section shall be guilty of a felony, upon conviction, and shall be punished by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than ten (10) years nor more than thirty (30) years, except when the minor child is under twelve (12) years of age at the time the offense is committed, and in such case the person shall, upon conviction, be punished by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than twenty-five (25) years.

Persons convicted under this section shall not be eligible for a deferred sentence.

Except for persons sentenced to life or life without parole, any person sentenced to imprisonment for two (2) years or more for a violation of this section shall be required to serve a term of post-imprisonment supervision pursuant to subparagraph f of paragraph 1 of subsection A of Section 991a of Title 22 of the Oklahoma Statutes under conditions determined by the Department of Corrections. The jury shall be advised that the mandatory post-imprisonment supervision shall be in addition to the actual imprisonment.

For purposes of this section, "downloading on a computer" means electronically transferring an electronic file from one computer or electronic media to another computer or electronic media.

Oklahoma Uniform July Instructions: OUJI-CR 4-131. INDECENT EXPOSURE -- ELEMENTS

No person may be convicted of indecent exposure unless the State has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime. These elements are:

First, willfully;

Second, and in a lewd manner;

Third, exposed his/her person/penis/vagina;

Fourth, in a (public place)/(place where there were present other persons to be offended/annoyed thereby).

Lee Berlin
Dedicated to defending clients accused of domestic violence, sex & violent crimes throughout eastern Oklahoma.