Indecent or Obscene Exposure

When someone is charged with the crime of indecent or obscene exposure in the state of Nevada, they may not be aware that this is considered a sex crime. Convicted sex crimes come with the obvious residual, negative social stigma related to them, but also the more concrete requirement of registration as a sex offender, which will have a lasting effect on the life of the convicted individual. It is important that anyone who has been charged with the alleged crime of indecent or obscene exposure in Nevada take their charges seriously and seek the counsel of an attorney who has the experience and knowledge needed to properly defend them as soon as possible.


What is Considered Indecent or Obscene Exposure in Nevada?

The legal definition of indecent or obscene exposure in Nevada is provided in the following Nevada Revised Statute (NRS 201.220), where it is described as “A person who makes any open and indecent or obscene exposure of his or her person, or of the person of another.” While the specific terms are undefined in regard to which parts of the body being exposed are considered to be indecent, more often than not this refers to the exposure of a person’s genitalia.

Typical cases of indecent or obscene exposure involve intentional exhibitionists, flashers or sexual activities that are in a public place – which includes bathrooms or public parks – and can sometimes be applied to public urination incidents as well. In some cases, a charge of indecent or obscene exposure may be added to charges of open or gross lewdness, which is a similar charge, but one which does include public sexual acts. Additionally, indecent or obscene exposure charges may also include, under certain circumstances, indecent exposure that occurs in someone’s private residence –  for example, if they are nude and in full view of open windows. Even if there is no sexual element to their nudity at the time of this exposure, it can be considered to be indecent.


Exception for Breastfeeding in Public Areas

The statute that refers to an act of indecent or obscene exposure (NRS 201.220) does include an exception to exposure in regards to a mother that is breastfeeding her child in a public place, stated as: “For the purposes of this section, the breast feeding of a child by the mother of the child does not constitute an act of open and indecent or obscene exposure of her body.” This is covered more fully in NRS 201.232, which further explains that “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breast feed her child in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast feeding.”


Penalties for the Conviction of Indecent or Obscene Exposure

The penalties for this crime will vary, depending on both the circumstances of the crime that took place and the prior record of the individual in question, with increasing severity for prior sexual offenses. More serious penalties are also applied if the offense was in the presence of a child (a minor under 18 years old).

First Offense

The first convicted offense of indecent or obscene exposure is (with no additional factors) usually a gross misdemeanor. The penalties for this crime are as follows:

●      Up to 1 year (365 days) in jail

●      Up to $2,000 in fines

●      Mandatory registration as a sex offender

Second Offense or Prior Conviction of Sexual Offense

In cases where there is a prior conviction of indecent or obscene exposure or cases in which the defendant has already been convicted of a prior sexual offense, this crime becomes a category D felony. The penalties for this are as follows:

●      From 1 to 4 years in Nevada State Prison

●      Potential fines of up to $5,000

●      Mandatory registration as a sex offender


First or Subsequent Offense Occurring in the Presence of a Child or Disabled Person

When either a first offense or a subsequent offense of indecent or obscene exposure takes place in the presence of a child (a minor under 18 years old) or in the presence of someone who is disabled, the crime is a category D felony. The penalties under these circumstances are:

●      From 1 to 4 years in Nevada State Prison

●      Potential fines of up to $5,000

●      Mandatory registration as a sex offender


Defenses to Charges of Obscene or Indecent Exposure

The most commonly used defenses for these charges are the following:

●      Insufficient Evidence – In cases involving charges of obscene or indecent exposure, as in all legal cases, it is necessary that the prosecution is able to prove that the guilt of the alleged offender is beyond a reasonable doubt. This is often a very difficult thing to do in cases of this nature due to a lack of sufficient evidence to prove the crime either occurred at all or that it was truly of a nature that makes the charge of obscene or indecent applicable.

●      Constitutional Right – There are circumstances in which public nudity can be protected as a constitutional right. This may apply for performances in venues that are licensed to allow nudity or in cases where the nudity is of an educational or artistic value, such as posing nude for art or painting classes.

●      Protected Act – There are also cases when this charge is recognized as a protected act, meaning that the exposure took place in a location that was reasonably believed by the alleged offender to offer the privacy that would protect them from being exposed.

Because indecent or obscene exposure is considered to be a sex crime in the state of Nevada, which will require the mandatory registration of anyone convicted of this crime as a sex offender, it is imperative that anyone charged with this crime take it seriously and contact an attorney immediately to discuss their options for defense. We invite you to contact us for a free case evaluation today and are ready to hear what you have to say.


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