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What is Considered Indecent Exposure in Arizona?

Indecent exposure is a serious offense in the United States as well as in Arizona. Several key factors determine the seriousness of an indecent exposure conviction, including whether the event was reckless in nature, the location where it happened, and the age of the victim. An exposure that is accidental in nature is different than a purposeful exposure, but both could be criminal actions in the court.

If you are involved in a specific case and need the help of a Scottsdale criminal lawyer, contact us today.

What Constitutes Indecent Exposure?

Code section 13-1402 of Arizona law defines indecent exposure as an exposure of the genital or anal private regions (male or female), and/or the nipples and areola area of a female. The law does not consider exposure of the outward area of the buttocks (gluteus maximus) indecent. The exposure must also be reckless in nature to warrant charges, illustrating that the individual expressed no concern for the victim the act offended. In addition, the courts would likely consider it reckless if the individual not only did not express concern for offending but intended to purposely offend.

Indecent exposure is an intentional exposure in a place where other people are present. That does not mean it has to be overtly public, such as in a business or on the street. Any non-private place where people are present constitutes indecent exposure. Where the law offers slightly more flexibility (as well as room to build a defense) is whether the act was reckless or not. An attorney will ask a criminal defendant accused of indecent exposure important questions to learn the facts of the event.

  • Was he or she intending to expose his/herself?
  • Was he or she aware others were around?
  • Was he or she sober or intoxicated?
  • Was he or she ill or out of their right mind for any reason?
  • Was he or she intending to offend?
  • Was the exposure invited or encouraged in some real or perceived way?
  • Did he or she feel any concern for other people around in that moment?
  • Did he or she know the ages of the individuals in the area?
  • Was the exposure completely or partially accidental, such as a wardrobe malfunction?

These key questions (among others), along with a detailed account of the event help an attorney assess the motive and circumstances.

Public Indecency and Registered Sex Offenders

If the victim who the defendant exposed his or herself to was under the age of 15 at the time, the misdemeanor immediately escalates from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony. This increases the potential time in prison significantly and affects eligibility for parole. In addition, according to the law in most states including Arizona, the courts will force the person who exposed his or herself to register as a sex offender if found guilty. Becoming a registered sex offender changes the entire path of a person’s life, affecting where they can live, work, worship, and visit. It is a huge responsibility to determine the severity of an indecent exposure, because of the circumstances surrounding exposure range so widely.

Prison Time and Fines

In an indecent exposure case not involving minors, if the courts convict the defendant of a Class 1 misdemeanor, he or she could spend a maximum of 6 months in jail. However, judges do not always give a jail sentence. The fine is $2,500, a surcharge, and $1,000 for mandatory counseling. If the courts find and convict defendants of a Class 6 felony, he or she could go to prison for a maximum of two years but have the possibility of probation.