Indecent Exposure Laws & Penalties in Washington State

is indecent exposure a felony

While it may seem like a minor offense to some, indecent exposure can actually lead to serious penalties, including jail time and fines. If you have been charged with indecent exposure in Washington state, it’s important to understand the law and what potential consequences you face. 

Is indecent exposure a felony? This article provides an overview of Washington state’s indecent exposure laws and penalties. Keep in mind that each case is unique, and you should speak with an attorney if you have specific questions about your situation.

Indecent Exposure Defined

Before we answer, “Is indecent exposure a felony?”, it’s important to know what is considered indecent exposure in Washington state. According to the Revised Code of Washington State, indecent exposure is defined as: “A person is guilty of indecent exposure if he or she intentionally makes any public display of his or her sexual organs.” 

Examples of acts that may qualify as indecent exposure include the following acts in public:

  • Urination
  • Masturbating
  • Being nude or exposing one’s penis, vagina, or female breast 

In other words, any intentional public sexual act is considered indecent exposure. The law is designed to prevent people from flaunting their sexuality in a way that is likely to alarm and upset members of the general public who find it inappropriate for children and adults alike. 

Indecent Exposure Penalties in Washington State

In Washington state, there are three different levels of indecent exposure

  • If an individual has never been convicted of indecent exposure before and exposes themselves to someone 14 years of age or older, it is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 90 days jail time and/or up to $1,000 in fines. 
  • If the individual exposes themselves to a minor under the age of fourteen, it is classified as a gross misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or up to a $5,000 fine.
  • If an individual has a prior conviction for indecent exposure and/or a prior conviction for a sex offense, then a subsequent charge of indecent exposure would be filed as a Class C felony, which is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or up to a $10,000 fine.

Generally speaking, a person is guilty of this crime if they intentionally make any open and obscene exposure of their body or the body of another person in a public place and it’s reasonable to assume that other persons are present who might be offended by their conduct. 

Public urination is considered indecent exposure under Washington law and comes with a fine of up to $1,000 and a 90-day jail term. If the victim is a minor, the penalties will be harsher and the offender will be charged with a gross misdemeanor. Most other states only rely on public indecency laws to prosecute people who urinate in public after relieving themselves without using restrooms made available by local governments or businesses.

Do I Need to Register as a Sex Offender If Convicted of Indecent Exposure?

In most all circumstances, the answer is no. The only exception to this would be if you were convicted of indecent exposure as a felony and it there is also a special allegation of sexual motivation.

Potential Defenses Against Indecent Exposure Charges

There are several potential defenses against indecent exposure charges. Some of the most common include:

  • You were not intentionally exposing themselves.
  • You were not in public.
  • Your genitals were not exposed.
  • No one else present was offended or disturbed by the exposure.
  • There is a viable mental health issue that negates intent.

Having a lawyer by your side as you fight the threat of jail time from a public indecency charge in Washington state will be beneficial to you. 

Why You Need a Defense Attorney for an Indecent Exposure Charge

If you are charged with indecent exposure, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can advise you on the best course of action. Your lawyer will be able to review the facts of your case and determine if any of the above defenses are applicable. If convicted, you could face significant penalties, including jail time and fines, not to mention having something stuck on your criminal record that can create difficulties with employment.

A criminal defense lawyer is your best option for protecting your rights and minimizing the impact of a conviction. The defense attorneys at Will & Will are experienced and ready to fight for you to quash the charges or significantly lower the penalties against you. 

Call the Will & Will team right away when you are accused of indecent exposure.

How can we help?

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