What is Indecent Exposure in Virginia?
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. No person shall be deemed to be in violation of this section for breastfeeding a child in any public place or any place where others are presentVa. Code § 18.2-387
What does this mean for you?
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. Engaging in sexual intercourse in a public place can also lead to an indecent exposure charge.
Punishment and Penalties for Indecent Exposure in Virginia:
Do not just pay the ticket. If you pay the ticket instead of appearing in Court, you are admitting guilt and giving up your right to a trial. Indecent exposure is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, and if convicted, you can face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.00.
There are enhanced penalties if the indecent exposure was towards a minor. If someone 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 instead of just a misdemeanor. If convicted, you can face up to 10 years in prison.
Another possible consequence is mandatory registration as a sex offender if you are convicted of indecent exposure or obscene sexual display three or more times. The Sex Offender Registry is public and can be searched by people you might know as well as employers.
What is Obscene Sexual Display and how is it related?
Making an obscene sexual display is also a crime under Va. 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 like indecent exposure.
What does the Commonwealth have to prove to find you guilty?
It is not enough to prove that there was exposure. The Commonwealth must prove that your actions were intentional, obscene, and public. They must prove all three elements in order to convict you of this charge.
Should you hire an attorney?
Given the serious nature and range of punishments, it is absolutely important that you consult an experienced attorney to look at the specifics of your case. Have an attorney from our office review possible defenses in your case that can result in charges being dismissed, reduced to a lesser charge, avoid a jail sentence or having to register on the sex offender’s registry.