Falsely Accused of Indecent Exposure? Here’s What To Do!
Being charged with a sex crime in Michigan is a serious matter. Even a relatively “minor” misdemeanor sex crimes charge, such as indecent exposure, can put you in prison for years if you are convicted. Even worse, you could be required to register as a sex offender, a label that will follow you for the rest of your life.
As bad as all that is, however, there’s an even worse possibility.
What if you are falsely accused of indecent exposure?
It happens more often than you might think – false reporting occurs in up to 10% of all sex crime cases. Here’s the thing, though – even false sex crime allegations have the potential to ruin your life.
To help you understand just what is at stake, let’s take a closer look at what indecent exposure is, what the potential penalties are, and what you should do if you are facing a false accusation.
Indecent Exposure Charges in Michigan
Michigan Penal Code Section 750.335a
Under Michigan law, there are three different levels of indecent exposure.
The first indecent exposure sex crime involves any person who knowingly and purposely exposes their genitals, buttocks, pubic area, or breasts, or that of another person.
The next level of indecent exposure occurs when the person is also fondling any of those same private or modesty areas, i.e. touching themselves in a sexual manner.
The third and most serious type of indecent exposure charge is when the lewd acts are performed by people who meet the legal definition of “sexually delinquent,” aka a sex offender.
In other words, if you have a previous conviction and you are subsequently accused of indecent exposure, you will face the most serious charge.
One important consideration about Michigan indecent exposure laws is that they do not require that anyone actually sees the exposure. It is a crime if the accused perpetrator had – or should have had – a reasonable belief that someone else could see their exposed private areas.
Penalties for Indecent Exposure
In Michigan, all acts of indecent exposure are misdemeanor sex crimes.
For a first-level indecent exposure crime, the maximum punishment is a fine of $1,000 and/or one year in prison.
A second-level indecent exposure sex crime conviction carries a fine of up to $2,000, up to two years in prison, or both.
For sexually delinquent persons/sex offenders a third-level indecent exposure conviction means indefinite detention, from one day to life in prison.
Gross Indecency Between Persons Charges in Michigan
Michigan Penal Code Sections 750.338 thru 750.338b
Gross indecency sex crimes involve two or more people of any gender engaging in lewd acts in public. Far more serious than simple indecent exposure, gross indecency between persons is a felony.
Penalties for Gross Indecency
In Michigan, felony gross indecency sex crimes are punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
Sex offenders with a previous conviction of any sex crime can be detained indefinitely, from one day in the county jail to life in prison.
Falsely Accused of Indecent Exposure?
If you have been wrongfully accused of indecent exposure, there are some important distinctions between different kinds of unfounded reports.
A false report is when law enforcement receives a complaint about a crime that, upon investigation, is factually proven to never have happened.
Examples of this would be when the alleged victim or witnesses are either deliberately lying or honestly wrong about what occurred – mistaken identity, for instance.
A baseless report, on the other hand, is when the investigation finds that the incident does not meet the legal criteria of being a crime, even if the report is technically truthful.
An example of a baseless report could be when there is insufficient evidence that the specific alleged crime took place.
The Two Things You Must Do First
If you have been falsely accused of indecent exposure charges, what you do next will largely determine if you are charged with a sex crime, if the case is dismissed before going to trial, if you are acquitted, or if you are convicted of indecent exposure.
The first thing you should do if you are arrested for any sex crime – indecent exposure, sexual assault, criminal sexual conduct, etc. – is exercise your constitutional right to remain silent. Even if you are wrongfully accused, now is not the time to try to explain yourself, because anything you say will be used to build a case against you.
Second, insist on another constitutional right – to have a Michigan criminal sexual conduct lawyer with you during questioning. Then, contact a law firm that focuses on sex crimes in Michigan.
How a Sex Crimes Defense Attorney Can Help
Sex crimes, such as indecent exposure charges, can be legally complicated. The differences between the various degrees of the alleged crime, and even between a misdemeanor and a felony, are often a matter of interpretation and legal argument.
This is why you need a criminal defense attorney who specializes in sex crime cases. A lawyer who primarily handles family law, business law, or personal injury may not have the experience or knowledge to recognize the legal nuances that will help you beat the indecent exposure charges.
Remember, it is not necessary to prove that you are innocent. The burden is actually on the prosecution, which must prove that (a), a crime actually took place when and where alleged, and (b), that you are the person who committed the alleged sex crime.
A top sex crimes defense lawyer who is familiar with the indecent exposure laws in Michigan will be able to challenge every allegation, witness, piece of evidence, and statement. If there are any errors or inconsistencies, they will create the reasonable doubt that will either result in dismissed charges or an outright acquittal.
Blank Law, PC: The Top Sex Crimes Lawyer in Michigan
For over 20 years, founding defense attorney Nicole Blank Becker has specialized in criminal cases involving sex crimes. Her decades of experience as an Assistant Prosecutor and as Private Counsel, and her former role as the Chief of Macomb County’s Sex Crimes Unit and Child Abuse Crimes Unit grants her a special insight on how to best defend against indecent exposure charges and other sex crime allegations.
For over 30 years, Attorney Christopher Coyle served Wayne County, first as an Assistant Prosecutor, and then as the Deputy Chief of the Special Victims Unit.