Indecent exposure laws make it a crime to engage in sexually offensive behavior or expose oneself indecently in front of others. If you are convicted of this offense, your punishment may include a jail sentence and a large fine. You would also face long-term consequences, such as a permanent criminal record.

What Constitutes Indecent Exposure?

Under Virginia Code § 18.2-387, indecent exposure is defined as a person intentionally making a display of or an exposure of his intimate body or private parts in public or in another place where people are present. An individual may also be charged with this crime for getting someone else to indecently expose himself. Breastfeeding is explicitly excluded from what constitutes indecent exposure.

A location is considered a public place if it is one where a person can reasonably foresee that an individual who does not consent might witness his exposure. Indecent exposure can include the following:

  • Exposing ones, buttocks, breasts, or genitalia
  • Engaging in sexual intercourse in a public place

Indecent exposure is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, the punishment is up to 12 months in jail and a fine not to exceed $2,500.

Obscene Sexual Display Offense

Making an obscene sexual display is also a crime under Virginia Code § 18.2-387. It is similar to indecent exposure but includes actual or explicitly simulated acts of masturbation. It is also a Class 1 misdemeanor with the same penalties as indecent exposure.

In addition, cities, townships, and other municipalities can have their own ordinances that make indecent exposure a crime.

Enhanced Penalties If the Indecent Exposure Involves a Minor

If a person intentionally exposes his or her private parts to a minor under 15 years old or propositions the minor to expose his or her private parts, he may be charged with a felony offense. Upon conviction, the sentence may be up to 10 years in prison and a fine.

What Must Be Proven to Convict You of Indecent Exposure?

An unintentional exposure is not enough to convict you of indecent exposure. The prosecutor must prove that your actions in exposing yourself were intentional, obscene, and public. He must prove this beyond a reasonable doubt—which is a high standard of proof.

Mandatory Registration as a Sex Offender

If you are convicted of indecent exposure or obscene sexual display as a third or subsequent offense, there would be a mandatory requirement that you register as a sex offender on the Sex Offender Registry. The registry is public and can be searched by your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and employers. Being on the registry can limit your ability to obtain suitable employment, make it more difficult to find housing, and prohibit you from being near certain locations, such as schools, where children are present. In addition, the police may monitor you. 

There is no right to have your name removed from the registry. However, after you serve your sentence and a certain amount of time has elapsed, you can file a petition with the court requesting to have your name removed. It is within the judge’s discretion to grant or deny your petition.

You will also have a permanent criminal record if convicted of indecent exposure. This can have similar long-term consequences on your life.

How Retaining an Experienced Sex Crimes Defense Attorney Can Help

Are you or a family member facing indecent exposure or obscene sexual display charges? Our skilled and dedicated sex crime defense attorneys have decades of experience fighting for the rights of individuals charged with indecent exposure and other crimes in Fairfax, Northern Virginia, and Maryland. We can help you avoid the harsh consequences you face. You may have strong defenses that can result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense that does not result in a jail sentence or require you to register on the Sex Offender Registry.

Schedule a free consultation to learn more about your possible defenses and our track record of successfully resolving these cases. Call our office or start an online chat to schedule an appointment today.