Whether you intentionally exposed yourself in public or your arrest was unfounded, you will need a criminal defense lawyer to represent you. You might not see yourself as a sex offender, but the Commonwealth does, and it’s important to your future and your family that you fight the charges. The penalties you face could change your life for the worse.
What Is Indecent Exposure Under Virginia Law?
The text of the Virginia law is as follows:
- Every person who intentionally makes an obscene display or exposure of his person, or the private parts thereof, in any public place, or in any place where others are present, or procures another to so expose himself, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Under the law, you can be charged with indecent exposure for displaying your private parts or for engaging in a sexual act in view of others. You can also be charged if you induce another person to expose themselves. In order to violate the law, the display must be intentional and for a sexual purpose. The law specifically excludes breastfeeding in public. It is also unlikely that urinating in public or “mooning” others would lead to an indecent exposure conviction; however, under the law, it is possible, and you should hire a lawyer to protect your right to fair treatment under the law.
Penalties for Indecent Exposure
As a Class 1 misdemeanor, indecent exposure is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. If you are accused of indecent exposure in front of a minor under 15 years old, you could be charged with a felony and face up to ten years in prison. If the conviction is your third or subsequent sexual offense, you will also be required to register as a sex offender on Virginia’s Sex Offender Registry. Appearing on this list has a devastating impact on your future by:
- Making your offense public and searchable by family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and employers
- Limiting your ability to obtain employment and find housing
- Prohibiting you from living near schools or anywhere children are present
- Affecting college applications
- Having your actions monitored by the police
These are serious consequences. You deserve a defense lawyer who will fight to protect your rights and secure the best possible outcome after an arrest for indecent exposure. There is never a reason to just roll over and plead guilty.
Potential Defenses to an Indecent Exposure Charge
Your exposure might have been accidental, a misunderstanding, a youthful indiscretion, or a joke, but you should not expect that you will be let off without the help of a defense lawyer. The key to an indecent exposure conviction is intent. You must have purposely exposed your genitals, breasts, or buttocks in public with sexual intent. However, simply exposing yourself in public could be enough for an arrest, and things will only get worse from there.
When you call a defense attorney right away, they can get to work investigating the incident, locating witnesses, and building a defense. It might be possible to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a disorderly conduct charge. If that is not possible, your lawyer might be able to convince the court to go easy on sentencing based on your age, character, or other factors.
An Experienced Defense Attorney Can Make All the Difference
The biggest mistake innocent people make is thinking their innocence will become clear once they tell their story. However, this is rarely the case, especially when it comes to sex crimes. The biggest mistake guilty people make is thinking a lawyer won’t be able to do anything for them. Again, this is not the case.
It is important that you contact a criminal defense attorney right away. Doing so does not make you look more guilty. Instead, it protects you from a worst-case scenario. If you have been charged with domestic violence, contact us online or call our office at 757-410-5042.