Is Indecent Exposure a Felony?
While you may not realize it, indecent exposure charges in Michigan are common. When it comes to criminal offenses, open or indecent exposure is one that most want to avoid. After all, being charged with this crime is serious and embarrassing for the individual and their family.
Due to the social stigma and potential criminal penalties related to both indecent exposure and aggravated indecent exposure, it is recommended that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help with the situation. Developing an attorney-client relationship early in the process will help you achieve the best possible outcome for the charges you are facing.
While anyone can face indecent exposure charges, staying politically correct by being gender-neutral is the accepted way to deal with these charges. Even though this is the case, statistics have shown that most charges are filed against males.
Is Indecent Exposure a Felony?
There are a few things to know about Michigan’s indecent exposure laws. These include the following:
Indecent Exposure Defined
Misdemeanor indecent exposure is an offense with a punishment of up to 93 days in jail. It may also result in fines of up to $500 and court-related fees.
This charge is often referred to as “simple” indecent exposure. It is an older charge that essentially means “getting caught with your pants down.” It includes any situation of indecent or intentional exposure, including urinating in public, flashing, and more.
Aggravated Indecent Exposure Defined
You can also face felony indecent exposure, which is called aggravated indecent exposure. A felony conviction carries a potential punishment of two years in state prison (max), fines of up to $2,000, and related court costs. In this situation, the addition of “aggravated” means that extenuating circumstances were present, such as fondling a person’s genitals, which refers to anything that is considered a person’s private parts.
Understanding the Intent of Indecent Exposure
In many situations, someone charged with indecent exposure is not trying to engage in some type of criminal sexual act or enterprise. Instead, the incident arises from hidden stress or ongoing stress in a man’s life. In many situations, the stress becomes too much and may result in them “acting out” in ways they regret later on. While some cases of indecent exposure are by a sexually delinquent person, statistics have found that this is not the case in most situations.
What Constitutes Charges of Indecent Exposure?
You may wonder what will constitute indecent exposure in Michigan. In some cases, it involves just “displaying” one’s genitals. In other situations, it is fondling the genitals in the presence of another person to get their reaction. It is the “shock” value that the individual wants. This is considered sexually offending behavior, and cases of willful exposure can lead to either a misdemeanor sex crime or felony indecent exposure charge.
Recently, more charges have been filed as “aggravated” and include allegations of fondling. In these cases, it could be an extension of the “shock value” element. In other situations, police happen to find a man wanting some time alone. Examples include masturbating in their vehicle or meeting up with another person in a park or another public location for sexual intercourse or some other type of sexual gratification (see: Is car sex a crime?). These situations will still result in indecent exposure charges.
Understanding Sexual Delinquency in Indecent Exposure Situations
In Michigan, a sexual offender may be considered a sexually delinquent person if their sexual behavior is described as “compulsive or repetitive acts” with a clear disregard for the consequences or the rights of other people.
Sometimes, the term sexual delinquent is used to describe someone with prior convictions of indecent exposure or other sex crime offenses. It can also refer to someone forcing another person to comply with acts that appeal to their sexual desire or involve their genitals. It is a term that also applies to someone who commits sexual aggression against a child under the age of 16.
If someone is classified as a sexual delinquent and receives a conviction for indecent exposure, they will likely face more serious penalties, including the possibility of life in prison and having to register as a sex offender.
The Sex Offender Registry
Indecent exposure is classified as a sex crime in Michigan. If you are convicted of any sex crime, then sex offender registration may be required on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry. If you are currently a sexual delinquent and face an indecent exposure charge that results in a conviction, you need to understand the potential penalties. A criminal defense attorney can help you better understand your rights in indecent exposure cases and help you avoid spending time in county jail or state prison.
Not all cases of indecent exposure will result in the defendant having to register as a sex offender. This is only a possibility if the individual is convicted, which is something that a sex crimes defense lawyer will work to prevent.
Also, unless someone is convicted of aggravated indecent exposure that involves foundling and the victim of this crime is a minor, they will not have to join the registry. However, if the person is convicted of this crime with a minor, then it is considered a Tier 1 sex offender offense. This means they must register as a sex offender for the next 15 years, beginning after the individual’s jail sentence is complete.
Usually, Tier 1 offenses will not require public sex offender registration. In this case, your criminal record would only be accessible by police and prosecutors. However, indecent exposure involving a minor requires you to register and make the otherwise confidential or sensitive information public.
Understanding Michigan’s “Catchall Provision” Related to Sex Offender Registration
It is also worth mentioning that there is a Catchall Provision included in the Michigan Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA). In this provision, even convictions that are “non-sexual,” the person may still have to register as a sex offender. This means that even if someone is convicted of simple indecent exposure, they could still have to register and be publicly known as a Tier 1 sex offender in Michigan.
These are serious charges and penalties. It means that anyone who can conduct an online search can see the registry and your name on it. If this happens, you will face other restrictions, too, such as being prohibited from working, loitering, or living within 1,000 feet of any school (the only exception is for students who live with parents).
You must also report any activities to law enforcement immediately, including:
- If you enroll at a university or college
- If you change your place of employment
- If you change your name
- If you change your address
- If you establish a new messaging or email account on the internet
- If you plan to reside somewhere besides your main residence for over seven days
- If you purchase or sell a vehicle
Learn if sex offenders can travel here.
If you do not report, verify, register, and comply with all the rules that go along with being on the sex offenders registry, you can face additional criminal charges. Learn if failure to register as a sex offender is a felony here.
What Exposed Body Parts are Illegal in Michigan?
You may wonder, what is considered indecent exposure? Indecent exposure in Michigan refers to showing the private parts of a person that instinctive modesty, natural self-respect, and human decency requires are usually kept covered when other people are around.
The definition is somewhat vague since “indecent” is subjective and open to interpretation. An example would be wearing a bikini. On a beach, this is acceptable, but in a restaurant, it may be considered indecent exposure and result in indecent exposure charges (however, this is highly unlikely).
Since indecent exposure cases are complex and the term indecent is somewhat subjective, it is essential that you have an experienced criminal sexual conduct attorney helping with your situation.
Private and Public Locations
Many people believe that for indecent exposure to occur, the individual must be in a public setting; however, this is not the case. In fact, indecent exposure can as easily occur at a bus stop as it can in someone’s home. The law does not consider the location of the incident when filing charges of indecent exposure.
While this is the case, they will likely consider things like sexual intent and if a sexual act was the goal of the exposure (see: Is indecent exposure a form of sexual abuse?).
Breastfeeding and Indecent Exposure in Michigan
Breastfeeding a child with female breasts exposed will not result in an indecent exposure conviction in Michigan. In fact, breastfeeding moms are exempt from these laws. While some people may claim that seeing a mother feed her child is offensive, the mother is not doing anything illegal while feeding or pumping milk for her child. Even if the nipple or areola is visible, the mother will remain exempt from facing indecent exposure charges.
Hire an Experienced and Reputable Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney for Assistance with Your Indecent Exposure Case
On the surface, cases of indecent exposure may not seem that serious. However, as you can see from the information above, the potential penalties for these charges are serious and can result in lifelong consequences.
If you find yourself facing these charges, we can help. The contact form sends information directly to us, and you can message contact details via our website.
We encourage anyone facing these charges to Attorney Nicole Blank Becker and Blank Law, PC immediately.
The longer we have to work on your case, the better prepared we will be to protect your rights and your freedom.