Have you been charged with public indecency, also known as indecent exposure, in Ohio? As a sex offense, a public indecency conviction can hurt your reputation for long after you have served time and paid fines.

Hiring an experienced Columbus public indecency lawyer can limit the life-altering consequences of indecent exposure.

Columbus criminal attorneys at James D. Owen, LLC, know how much is at stake. Do not leave your future up to prosecutors. Call us at (614)547-5757.

How Can a Columbus Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me Fight Indecent Exposure Charges?

As veteran criminal defense lawyers, we have seen firsthand how public indecency charges often arise out of bad luck, misunderstanding, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, no matter what circumstances led to the charges, we know that these charges must be taken seriously. Public indecency is a sex crime, for which you may be sentenced to time in prison.

An experienced Columbus criminal defense lawyer can help you avoid or lessen the severe consequences of a criminal conviction, which may consist of fines, imprisonment, and devastating damage to your reputation. Our legal team is exceptionally familiar with public indecency and indecent exposure charges. We understand Ohio and Columbus’ complicated codes.

Our Commitment To You

When you hire our law firm, we commit to providing you with the best possible defense.

We have spent decades working in Ohio criminal courts and know how prosecutors and judges handle charges on a case-by-case basis. We know their strengths, their weaknesses, and where they take procedural shortcuts.

Working with you and all available evidence, our sex crime lawyers in Columbus, Ohio will figure out a strategy to keep you out of jail and get charges reduced or dropped.

What is Public Indecency?

Public indecency, Ohio’s term for indecent exposure, includes various types of lewd behavior, public sexual conduct, masturbating in public, or engaging in sexual activity or publicly exposing your private parts in a manner that suggests sexual conduct, sexual arousal, or gratification.

Public indecency can occur three ways in Ohio:

  • Exposing private parts or sexual organs
  • Engaging in sexual conduct or masturbation (masturbation does not require nudity)
  • Engaging in an activity that looks/ appears to be sexual in nature.

Public urination or defecation is considered disorderly conduct (a minor misdemeanor) and not public indecency in the State of Ohio.

If you conduct public indecency in the presence of minors, you may be charged with felony aggravated indecent exposure. If you have prior convictions for sex crimes in Ohio, you may be charged with aggravated public indecency. If convicted, you may be required to register as a sex offender for at least ten years.

Acting Knowingly vs. Acting Recklessly

Ohio’s public indecency law divides sexual acts into two categories of mental states: acts done recklessly and acts done knowingly. Engaging in any of these behaviors can lead to public indecency charges. However, prosecutors will only be successful in bringing charges if they can prove that your actions were reckless, and were witnessed by others, or likely to be witnessed by others.

  • ORC 2901.22 defines recklessly as doing something without caring about the consequences. In this scenario, a person understands that certain risks are attached to carrying out a specific act, yet disregards those risks and continues to engage in the conduct.
  • ORC 2901.22 defines acting knowingly when someone is aware that their actions will cause a specific result.

Generally, acts done knowingly carry greater consequences than those done recklessly. Prosecutors may have a difficult time arguing you acted knowingly, especially if you bring a strong defense.

Is the City of Columbus or State of Ohio Prosecuting Your Public Indecency Case?

If you’re arrested for Public Indecency in Columbus, you may be charged under Columbus City Code 2307.09 – Public Indecency, or Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Section 2907.09. The statutes are very similar. If you are charged under the Ohio code, the charge will come from the state of Ohio and state prosecutor. If you are charged under the Columbus code, the charge will come from the City of Columbus and the City Prosecutor.

James D. Owen, LLC, has a history of handling criminal defense cases in Ohio for more than 25 years. We have a proven record of successful outcomes in public indecency cases involving both city and state prosecutions.

What Makes Public Exposure A Felony In The State Of Ohio?

ORC 2907.09 can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the unique circumstances, and specifically whether a minor was involved and whether you had previous convictions.

Exposure is considered “public” if it is within view of someone who is not an adult member of your household and/or a minor.

Sorting through these circumstances to determine charges and penalties can be complicated.

Exposing Your Private Parts

  • First Offense: Fourth Degree Misdemeanor
  • Second Offense: Third Degree Misdemeanor
  • Third Offense: Second Degree Misdemeanor.

Exposing Your Private Parts to a Minor

  • First Offense: Second Degree Misdemeanor
  • Second Offense: First Degree Misdemeanor.

Another way to think of this: the class of charge increases if the person who witnessed the conduct was a minor. So, a fourth-degree charge becomes a second-degree, and a third-degree becomes a first-degree.

Engaging In Sexual Conduct, Masturbation, Or What Appears As Such

  • First Offense: Third Degree Misdemeanor
  • Second Offense: Second Degree Misdemeanor.

Engaging In Sexual Conduct, Masturbation, Or What Appears As Such In Front of A Minor

  • First Violation:  First Degree Misdemeanor
  • Second or Subsequent Violation: Fifth Degree Felony.

If you were a minor (or your child was a minor) and is charged with public indecency, and the victim was a minor, the law makes no allowances for behavior between minors. Contacting a criminal defense attorney in Columbus as soon as possible following an arrest will give you the best possible chance.

Penalties and Fines for Public Indecency in Ohio

Ohio categorizes misdemeanors into five separate classes: First Degree, Second Degree, Third Degree, and Fourth Degree, as well as minor misdemeanors. The most serious misdemeanor charge is a First Degree misdemeanor, while a minor misdemeanor is the least serious.  Penalties for public indecency, ranging from least serious to most serious, include:

  • Fourth Degree misdemeanor: A fine of up to up $250, and jail time of up to 30 days
  • Third Degree misdemeanor: A fine of up to up to$500, and up to 60 days in jail
  • Second Degree misdemeanor: A fine of up to up to $750, and up to 90 days in jail
  • First Degree misdemeanor: A fine of up to up to $1,000, and up to 180 days in jail
  • Fifth Degree felony: A fine of up to $2,500, and between 6-12 months in prison.

Depending on the circumstances, a person convicted of could be required to register as a tier I sex offender/child-victim offender for a minimum of 10 years. This will be up to the discretion of the court. If you are facing any of these charges, call us at James D. Owen, LLC as soon as possible.

Strategies for Defending Indecent Exposure Charges in Ohio

When we walk into a courtroom to defend you, every argument has been considered, and every issue has been researched. We give every legal matter the attention it deserves. A successful defense will put both you and your case in the best possible light, and may include highlighting:

  • Lack of prior criminal history/record
  • Records of good grades and achievements
  • Polygraph evidence
  • Evidence that shows the alleged victim previously made false allegations.

Our vigorous approach to thorough preparation doesn’t change if you’re facing felony charges or misdemeanor charges. Do not trust your future to a new or inexperienced attorney. We will treat you with dignity and respect while aggressively fighting to protect you.

Defenses to Indecent Exposure in Ohio

Public indecency charges are subject to interpretation by a judge and are not black and white. Charges will depend on where the incident occurred, who was there, your prior criminal record. Potential defenses could include:

  • You never exposed your private parts
  • You thought you were in a private place
  • You did not intend for your actions to be interpreted as sexual.

Mistake, intoxication, and misunderstandings are generally not defenses to indecent exposure charges in Ohio. However, prosecutors will likely not bring charges if you clearly lacked the intent, and no one was offended by your actions.

Many avenues exist for a successful public indecency defense, and your case likely will not go to trial. You have a good opportunity to get charges reduced or dropped if you take immediate action and contact a lawyer right away. If we have any argument that the state’s case is weak, we will ask the judge to dismiss the charges.

Get a Free Case Evaluation With a Columbus Public Indecency Lawyer

If you are facing public indecency charges, our Columbus indecent exposure lawyers at James D. Owen, LLC are here to fight hard for you. We offer a free consultation, which will cover a thorough review of your charges and possible plea options. We will explain:

  • the strong points and weak points of your case
  • the possible outcome of a criminal trial
  • possible plea options
  • possible sentences.

You should not and do not have to face your Ohio criminal charges alone. Call our team at 614-547-5757 to discuss your case and how we can help you receive the best possible resolution.

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