Is it Illegal to Have Sex in a Car in Ohio?

When you think about having sex in a car, you may think about teenagers trying to find a little privacy. However, adults are also guilty of using a car to find a little privacy to engage in sexual relations with another person.

Before you and your partner decide it might be exciting to have sex in a car in Ohio, you may want to think carefully. There are many instances in which having sex in a car could result in very severe sex crime charges.

In general, whether or not you can be arrested depends on the facts and circumstances of your case. The most likely situation that could result in you getting arrested is if your case meets the definition of public indecency in Ohio.

Public Indecency Laws in Ohio

Ohio public indecency laws make it illegal for a person to:

  • Expose your private parts;
  • Engage in masturbation or sexual conduct; or,
  • Engage in conduct that could appear as masturbation or sexual conduct.

The state must prove that you “recklessly” committed the act under circumstances that make it likely people around you will see the behavior. However, the statute does not apply when the people who might see you are members of your family.

Therefore, if you park your vehicle in a spot in which it is likely someone might see your behavior and be offended by the behavior, you could be arrested for public indecency. You do not have to be with someone. The statute applies to masturbation too.

Can I Go to Jail for Having Sex in my Car?

Public indecency without any aggravating factors is a fourth degree misdemeanor. A conviction for public indecency as a fourth degree misdemeanor carries a $250 fine and up to 30 days in jail. Therefore, under the right circumstances, you could go to jail in Ohio for having sex in your car.

Aggravating Circumstances Increase Public Indecency to a Felony

There are circumstances under which a public indecency charge could rise to the level of a felony or a higher level misdemeanor. When the charge increases to a higher level misdemeanor or felony, the fines increase as does the time you serve in jail for a conviction.

Prior convictions of public indecency can increase the charge to a higher level misdemeanor. If a minor is present or is likely to see your conduct in the car, you could face a felony charge for aggravated indecent exposure.

Therefore, if you accidentally choose a spot to park your vehicle that is near a school or park, a “quickie” with someone could result in a felony charge. If a child was present, you could also be charged as a sex offender. You may be required to register as a sex offender with the state, which could impact your career opportunities, living arrangements, and college prospects.

Are There Defenses I can use if I am Arrested for Having Sex in a Car?

If an officer arrests you for having sex in a car, the state must prove all legal requirements for the criminal charge to obtain a conviction. For example, if you parked your car well off the road and away from any buildings or paths where someone would likely be walking close to your vehicle, the state may have difficultly proving that your conduct was “likely to be viewed” by others.

There could be other defenses that might apply in your case. For instance, you were not seen by anyone other than a family member, the officers violated your legal rights, or you were not having sex or engaged in any activities that would appear to be sexual conduct.

What Should I do if I am Arrested for Public Indecency?

Do not try to talk yourself out of the arrest. You may say something that would make it more difficult to mount a vigorous defense to the charges. Instead, respectfully exercise your right to remain silent until you speak with an attorney.

The police officer may use various tactics to obtain a statement or encourage you to talk, such as shaming you or accusing you of reckless behavior. Do not give in to the temptation to defend yourself. Let an experienced criminal defense lawyer take care of defending yourself and arguing your innocence in court.