A Look at the Crimes of Public Indecency

A Look at Public Indecency Laws in Indiana

Clothing and fashion don’t serve only to impress and to keep us warm – they also keep us from being charged with crimes in Indiana for showing others what they probably don’t want to see.  Few of us will be surprised that Indiana prohibits the display of certain body parts in public, and even on private property but with the intent to be seen by the public.  The Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower take a look at the crimes meant to protect your eyes.

Public Indecency

This Class A Misdemeanor prohibits, while in public, knowingly or intentionally engaging in sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct, appearing in a state of nudity with the intent to arouse the sexual desires of oneself or another person, or fondling the genitals of oneself or another person.

Another form of public indecency specifically prohibits a person at least 18 years of age from appearing nude in public with the intent to be seen by a child less than 16 years of age.  This act also constitutes a Class A Misdemeanor which carries a possible penalty of up to 1 year in jail and a fine of $5,000.

Both of the above offenses, however, are Level 6 Felonies if committed by a person who has a prior conviction for these offenses.  This means a person charged with public indecency with at least 1 prior conviction for the offense could face possible penalties of up to 2.5 years in the Department of Correction and a fine of $10,000!

One question that may come up in reading the above language is “what is nudity?” Fortunately, and likely due to a concern over the vagueness of that word alone, our legislature has provided a definition:

“Nudity means the showing of the human male or female genitals, pubic area, or buttocks with less than a fully opaque covering, the showing of the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any part of the nipple, or the showing of covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state.”  Without getting too graphic, upon reading this we get a pretty good idea of what is and what isn’t considered nudity for purposes of public indecency offenses.

Indecent Exposure

Now you may be wondering what happens if you aren’t in a public place while one of the above behaviors are occurring.  It turns out Indiana wants to keep people from engaging in these behaviors while in a private place, but where they can be seen from public places.  Thus, we come to the offense of indecent exposure.

A person who engages in the above behaviors, while somewhere other than a public place, but with the intent to be seen by someone other than an occupant or invitee of that place, and where the person can be seen by persons other than an occupant or invitee of that place, commits indecent exposure.  That’s pretty wordy, but essentially you may be facing a Class C Misdemeanor if you engage in one of the above behaviors in a non-public place, but where you can be seen from somewhere else, and where it can be proven or inferred that you intended to be seen from somewhere else.

Public Nudity

Using the same nudity definition from above, Indiana further prohibits specific offenses related to appearing nude in public.  First, a person who knowingly or intentionally appears in a state of nudity in public commits public nudity, a Class C Misdemeanor.  However, if this offense is committed with the intent to be seen by another person, the individual may be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor.

In addition to these basic public nudity offenses, a person may be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor if he or she knowingly or intentionally appears in a state of nudity in or on school grounds, in a public park, or with the intent to arouse the sexual desires of the person or another person in a Department of Natural Resources owned or managed property.  The last scenario may jump out as being oddly specific, and indeed it is.  That prohibition was enacted to combat what law enforcement determined to be a continuing problem involving sexual acts in DNR properties.  For these Class A Misdemeanor offenses, a person with a prior conviction will instead be charged with a Level 6 Felony.

While these offenses may not lead to a sex offender registration requirement as many people mistakenly believe, the consequences of and stigma attached to them will be concerning to most.  Therefore, it is important to contact an Indiana criminal defense attorney who can help you handle your case.  If you or someone you know is facing one of these charges, contact the experienced Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC at 317-870-0019 or info@banksbrower.com for a consultation.