Having sex or exposing yourself in public may seem like relatively harmless acts. However, indecent exposure is a serious sex crime in Chicago and a conviction has the potential to ruin your life. If you are facing criminal charges for indecent exposure contact the Kostopoulos Law Group for help.
Our Chicago criminal defense attorneys have more than 30 years of combined legal experience and have successfully handled complex criminal matters for clients just like you. We know what is at stake and will aggressively fight to get the best possible outcome in your case. Call us today to schedule a free consultation and find out more about how we can help you.
What is Indecent Exposure?
In Chicago, it is a crime to have sex and/or expose your genitals in public. If you do either of these things you can be arrested for indecent exposure. In order to get a conviction for indecent exposure, as defined in 720 ILCS 5/11-30, prosecutors must prove that you:
- Were at least 17 years old at the time of the act,
- Were in a public place, and
- Engaged in an act of sexual penetration or sexual conduct, or
- Exposed your genitals with the intent to arouse or satisfy a sexual desire.
Defining a Public Place
Where is the line drawn between private and public places? Illinois law defines a public place as anywhere “the conduct may reasonably be expected to be viewed by others.” Since this definition is so broad, many locations that you believe to be private may actually be considered public. Examples of public places where you could be arrested for indecent exposure include:
- Public parks
- Public and private college campuses
- Your own personal driveway
- The front porch of a home, and
- Inside of a car on private land.
As long as you are in a location where you could reasonably be expected to be seen by others you will be considered to be in public. It does not matter if the property is classified or touted as “private.” If others can you see engaging in lewd conduct or sex you can be arrested for indecent exposure.
At the same time, you can also use the fact that no one could reasonably be expected to see you in public as a defense. If you are under the cover of darkness, intentionally hidden behind a large obstructing object, or simply in a place where people rarely travel, you can argue that you were not technically “in public” for the purposes of public indecency.
Sexual Penetration or Sexual Conduct
Illinois’ indecent exposure law punishes both sexual penetration and sexual conduct in public. Sexual penetration is broadly defined to include any intrusion of the vagina, anus, or mouth by another person with a foreign object (e.g., penis, sex toy, tongue, finger). Vaginal sex, anal sex, and oral sex are all classified as penetration for the purposes of indecent exposure.
Sexual conduct is a catch-all that covers pretty much every other act of sexual behavior. If you knowingly touch or fondle another person’s private areas for sexual gratification or arousal, you will have engaged in sexual conduct. Touching any part of a child for sexual arousal or gratification is also considered to be sexual conduct.
Lewd exposure means basically means getting naked or exposing your genitals in public. Breastfeeding is explicitly stated to not be a lewd act. In order to be convicted of indecent exposure you must display yourself for the purpose of sexual gratification or arousal. If you expose yourself in public without the intention of arousing or gratifying sexual feelings you can face charges for the crime of disorderly conduct.
Criminal Penalties for Indecent Exposure
Indecent exposure is classified as a Class A Misdemeanor, which is the most serious misdemeanor charge in Illinois. Since indecent exposure is the most serious type of misdemeanor in the state, aggravating factors and/or multiple convictions can result in felony charges.
First & Second Convictions: First and second-time indecent exposure convictions, without any aggravating factors, are punishable by one year in jail and $1,000 in fines.
Aggravating Factors: If you are over the age of 18 and convicted of indecent exposure within 500 feet of an elementary school when kids are present the crime is a Class 4 Felony.
Indecent Exposure Defenses
When you are accused of having sex or exposing yourself in public it is important to defend yourself. The arguments you assert in your defense should help to clarify, explain, and/or justify your behavior. When these defense arguments are persuasive the prosecution will have a tough time building a solid case against you. In these situations, they will be more open to discussing a plea, reducing the charges, or dropping the case altogether. Defenses that may help your indecent exposure case include:
- You were on private property,
- You could not be seen by others,
- You had a reasonable right to privacy,
- You were under the age of 17,
- You have been falsely accused, or
- You exposed yourself as a joke or prank, lacking the intent to arouse or gratify sexual urges.
Fighting Indecent Exposure in Chicago
If you have been arrested for indecent exposure in Chicago it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. A conviction for indecent exposure can result in jail time, fines, and a criminal record. Having a criminal record is tough enough on its own. When your criminal record shows that you have been convicted of a sex crime the collateral consequences can be devastating. You have the power to limit the consequences of your arrest, and the Kostopoulos Law Group can help.
Call our Chicago indecent exposure defense attorneys to schedule a free consultation. We will thoroughly review your case, determine the best defense(s), and explain your rights as a defendant. You can use this time to learn about the seriousness of the situation and decide to take your future into your own hands. It is important to act quickly, so do not hesitate to call us today.