Can a Minor Be Charged with Indecent Exposure?
According to data released by Statistica, there were over 4.53 million arrests for all offenses in the United States in 2021, and many of these arrests were for indecent exposure. Every state, including Michigan, has indecent exposure laws that prohibit people from committing this sex crime.
Yet, can a minor be charged with indecent exposure? The answer is Yes! Typically any person (even those under age) that exposes his or her genitals or private parts knowing that others will be offended or for sexual gratification can be charged with this sex crime.
Unfortunately, those convicted of an indecent exposure offense could find themselves listed on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry. Additionally, many people do not realize how common indecent exposure charges are in Michigan and how serious this crime is in the eyes of judges and juries.
So, if you or someone you love who is a minor has been charged with indecent exposure, it is a good idea to consider hiring a criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can help a minor avoid an indecent exposure conviction by building strong sexual assault defense strategies against regular and aggravated indecent exposure charges.
Before contacting one of our sex offender lawyers at Blank Law, PC, about your case, read more about this crime, its criminal penalties, and defenses. Then speak to us as we take the attorney-client relationship seriously.
What Exactly is Considered Indecent Exposure in the State of Michigan?
To understand why the penalty for indecent exposure can be severe for minors, you need to know more about this crime. Simply put, indecent exposure refers to an individual purposely exposing themself in a public setting where the exposure is commonly considered abnormal, lewd, or out of place.
Thus, if you intentionally show your private body parts (genitals) in a setting that can be deemed upsetting, offensive, or against the standards of public decency, you have a high chance of being charged with indecent exposure.
Even though some parts of Michigan are more lenient regarding indecent exposure, intentional exposure of your genitals will see you facing Penal Code 750.335a charges no matter where you live. However, there are some incidents where indecent exposure cannot be charged and a person convicted. They include:
● The exposure of a woman’s breast during breastfeeding
● Accidental nudity
- This can include wardrobe malfunctions, exposing one’s underwear, and being nude when believing oneself alone
A sex crimes lawyer can work alongside you to determine if you can be charged as a sex offender for indecent exposure as a minor.
What Does the Michigan Penal Code 750.335a Indecent Exposure Entail?
Now that you know more about what is classified as indecent exposure, it is a good idea to learn more about Michigan’s Penal Code 750.335a, which deals specifically with indecent exposure. This Penal Code includes the following parameters that your lawyer can explain in further detail:
- An individual is not knowingly permitted to follow through with open or aggravated indecent exposure of their person or another person. A person who violates this can face an aggravated indecent exposure conviction if found guilty of a misdemeanor. Per the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines, a misdemeanor is punishable by no more than a single year in county jail or a fine of no more than $1,000, or both.
- Should an individual purposely fondle their pubic area, genitals, buttocks, or breasts while indecently exposing themselves, they can be guilty of a misdemeanor with stricter consequences. These include potential prison time of up to two years and a fine of no more than $2,000, or both.
- Suppose a person is guilty of indecent exposure and is a known sexually delinquent person (minor or not). In that case, the violation is punishable by jail time of a minimum of one day, up to a maximum of life in prison.
Can a Minor Be Charged with Indecent Exposure?
As you might have gleaned, a minor can be charged with indecent exposure in Michigan. Many people don’t know that minors in Michigan can be charged with a sex crime, and indecent exposure is classified as such.
However, since a minor is alleged to have committed this serious crime while under 16, which is the legal age of consent in Michigan, they are likely to face criminal charges in a juvenile court. Additionally, minors accused of committing sex crimes likely won’t need to undergo sex offender registration.
This is not always the case, however, which is why it is crucial to discuss your case with a sex crimes defense lawyer at Blank Law, PC before it goes to trial at a juvenile court.
Are There Defenses Available to Minors for Indecent Exposure Charges in Michigan?
Fortunately, defenses are available to minors facing indecent exposure charges in Michigan. With the assistance of an attorney, a minor could use one of the below defenses to get the charges dropped or lessened. To explain each defense, we have provided examples of how they can be used to fight indecent exposure conviction charges as a minor.
The Indecent Exposure Accusation is False
A minor can state that the indecent exposure accusation is false. For example, defendant Lee is trying to report bullying at her school. Judy threatens to accuse Lee of deriving sexual pleasure from purposely exposing herself in front of two schoolchildren unless she doesn’t report her.
Lee has never intentionally exposed herself indecently in front of school children. Judy complains about her to the school and is forced to tell the police. Lee is arrested for indecent exposure. Should Lee be convicted of violating Penal Code 750.335a?
The answer is No. Even though Judy alleged facts that supposedly prove Lee is guilty of criminal sexual conduct, Lee can not be convicted of violating Penal Code 750.335a because Judy did not tell the truth.
The facts unearthed during an investigation show that Lee never exposed herself to school children. Judy made a false accusation because she did not want to be reported for bullying. Thus Lee has to be acquitted.
The Evidence is Insufficient for Conviction
A minor can claim that the evidence against them is insufficient for conviction. For example, 16-year old Jennifer has a fetish for exposing herself in public parks. She goes to a park regularly, only wearing a trench coat with nothing underneath.
When she gets to a park, she sits on a bench and opens her coat, hoping that someone will see her naked body. To Jennifer’s dismay, no one is there to see her, so she closes her jacket. Soon after, police officers appeared and arrested her for a suspected violation of indecent exposure. Should Jennifer be convicted?
Ultimately, the answer is No. Although Jennifer had lewd intent, as she wanted to be seen naked in public for sexual gratification, she could not be charged with indecent exposure. This is because there was no one in the park to be offended by her display, which makes the evidence insufficient. If the state of Michigan can not prove even a single element of a criminal sexual conduct charge, Jennifer must be acquitted and can’t be charged.
It is a Case of Mistaken Identity
A minor can use the defense of mistaken identity. For example, 15-year old Junior has an identical twin brother named Eric. Eric’s girlfriend, Shauna, recently broke up with him, and the relationship ended with an ugly argument.
Based on this, Junior supposedly decided to assault Shauna by leaping in front of her naked at a party to try and humiliate her. To further cement the humiliation, he yelled obscenities at her while he chased her home. After this, Shauna accused Eric of indecent exposure, and he was arrested. Should Eric be convicted of indecent exposure?
This is a tricky scenario because it is a good case for indecent exposure, and, based on the facts, charges can be laid. However, Eric can not be convicted according to indecent exposure laws because his twin brother Junior pretended to be him when humiliating Shauna. An individual should not ever be convicted of a crime they did not commit, so Eric would be acquitted, and Junior charged with indecent exposure.
When Can Indecent Exposure Become a Felony?
Unfortunately, there are times when a minor charged with indecent exposure can be facing a felony instead of a misdemeanor sex crime. Some of the indecent exposure cases where harsher penalties can be carried out include:
- When the accused is a repeat offender: If a minor is charged with a second or subsequent sex crime (indecent exposure offense by willful exposure), the charge will automatically be changed from a misdemeanor to a felony. A conviction could lead to a fine of up to $10,000 and three years in a state prison per offense.
- When the accused is guilty of aggravated indecent exposure: If a minor commits aggravated indecent exposure, this is classified as a wobbler offense. This means the minor could be facing a misdemeanor or a felony charge. Additionally, aggravated indecent exposure refers to when a minor purposely and without permission exposes their private parts in an inhabited trailer, building, or home.
Speak with a Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer at Blank Law, PC Today to Discuss Your Case
So, clearly a minor can be charged with indecent exposure. Unfortunately, the laws and penalties surrounding indecent exposure charges can be complex and challenging to understand, as is often the case with sex crimes.
In addition to this complexity, the charges themselves often carry an immense stigma in society, which can be damaging before or after a conviction. This is why hiring a Michigan criminal sexual conduct attorney from Blank Law, PC, is crucial.
Attorney Nicole Blank Becker and her team of sex offender lawyers will work alongside the charged minor to find and evaluate the facts to determine the best course of action. We work with our clients to do our very best to help them obtain a fair solution. Just because a minor is charged with a sex crime does not mean they deserve to be convicted.
If you or a loved one is facing an indecent exposure charge and don’t want to be classified as a sex offender, contact us for a Michigan criminal defense attorney free consultation. We are on your side and will fight indecent exposure charges on your behalf.