Indecent Exposure

In Massachusetts, the crime of Indecent Exposure is considered a crime against “chastity, morality, decency and good order.” To be convicted of Indecent Exposure the prosecution is required to prove that the defendant committed an “intentional act of lewd exposure, offensive to one or more persons.” The defendant’s exposure of his genitalia is a necessary element to the crime of indecent exposure.

What is the necessary intent for the offense?

The mental state required to convict for Indecent Exposure is only that the defendant intended to expose his genitalia, not that the defendant intended to offend someone by the exposure. The necessary intent needed to convict under the statute can be inferred by all the facts and circumstances surrounding the action of the defendant.

Example:

  • In a case where a defendant janitor was charged with Indecent Exposure for exposing himself to young boys in a school bathroom, the fact that the defendant stood close to the urinal when other children were in the lavatory but stood farther away from the urinal when the victim and the defendant were alone provided enough evidence to infer that the defendant intended to expose himself. The fact that the defendant made sexually explicit comments to another child victim supported the court’s finding.
What encompasses “genitalia” within the meaning of the statute?

Regarding the Indecent Exposure statute, Massachusetts requires that the defendant expose his actual genitalia or buttocks to be convicted. The fact that the defendant exposes an area near the genitalia is not enough for a conviction under the statute.

Example:

  • In a case where a defendant pulled down his bathing suit bottom in front of a woman and her daughter, the fact that the victims saw the defendant’s “pubic hair” and “crotch area” was not sufficient; because the victims did not see the defendant’s genitalia or buttocks, the evidence did not support a conviction for Indecent Exposure.
What constitutes “exposure”?

In Massachusetts, the offense of Indecent Exposure does not require that the defendant expose himself in a public place in the presence of multiple people. To constitute “exposure” the defendant only needs to expose his genitalia and that the exposure be offensive to one or more people.

Example:

  • Evidence sufficient to support conviction of indecent exposure where defendant was in his bedroom but intentionally exposed himself to his neighbor by flashing mirror to get her attention. When the victim saw a flash of light on the wall in her house, she went and looked out the window of her house and saw the defendant in his house, naked from the waist down, flashing a mirror
  • Sufficient evidence was presented to show the defendant exposed his genitaliaeven though the victim said it was too dark outside to see the defendant’s private parts, as the victim testified that the defendant’s private part was outside his pantswhen the defendant pushed the victim’s head toward his penis in an attempt to force oral sex.
  • In a case where a defendant janitor was charged with Indecent Exposure for exposing himself to young boys in a school bathroom, the court found that enough evidence was presented to convict based on the defendant’s conduct in using the urinal designed for shorter boys when higher urinals were available and by standing farther away from the urinal than was necessary to urinate. Further supporting the court’s finding was testimony that the defendant had an erection while standing at the urinal.
What does “offensive” mean?

Massachusetts courts define offensive acts as those that cause “displeasure, anger or resentment, and are repugnant to the prevailing sense of what is decent or moral.” Courts have found that when a victim says “no” and tries to leave the situation, that behavior is enough to show that the defendant’s actions caused the victim displeasure.

Example:

  • In 2015, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts found that a victim did not have to testify that they were “offended” by the defendant’s exposure of his genitalia and attempt to force the victim to perform oral sex; the victims statements that she “did not want to do that and that she wanted to go inside” were sufficient to infer she felt displeasure at the defendant’s actions.
  • A victim’s testimony that they felt embarrassed and threatened by the defendant’s actions permitted the finding that the defendant’s actions “offended” the victim.

Penalty: a person convicted of Indecent Exposure faces a potential penalty of up to six (6) months incarceration and/or a $200 fine.

Contact an Indecent Exposure Defense Attorney Today

At DelSignore Law we have helped numerous clients charged with a variety of sex crimes. We understand that these are complicated cases that carry a stigma in society. We are always available to review your case and the defenses available to you. Feel free to call us today at 781-686-5924.

While on our website feel free to review our criminal defense case results and learn more about sex crimes in Massachusetts.

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A careless decision on my part left me facing charges which would have severely hampered my ability to stay employed and support myself. But attorney DelSignore's skillful analysis and challenging of the evidence against me resulted in a conviction on a lesser charge. Now I'll be able to go on with my life, having learned a lesson I'll never forget. Thank you, Michael. Scott
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Mike stuck with my case for 3.5 years and always kept me informed regarding the status. Ultimately, because of his due diligence, we ended up with an OUI not guilty verdict. This case could have gone many ways but his thorough review of the case and exceptional preparedness for trial ultimately drove a positive outcome. Thank you Mike! David
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