Understanding Nudity Laws

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What Are Nudity Laws?

Nudity laws are laws that prohibit public nudity and/or public sex acts. Nudity laws make it illegal to walk around in public without one’s clothes on.

However, many nudity laws only prohibit public nudity if the lack of clothes is “lewd” or designed “to arouse sexual gratification.” If a defendant is nude in a public place, it is only illegal if the defendant wanted people to be attracted to be attracted to them or because the defendant was sexually aroused by being nude.  

What Is Considered a “Public” Place?

A “public” place is usually defined as any location visited by the public, likely to be visited by the public, or where the public can be expected to visit or observe. Public places typically include streets, sidewalks, and businesses. Therefore, “public” places may include private businesses, such as restaurants or bars, and private events, such as music festivals. 

“Public” places usually do no include restrooms, doctors’ offices, or any other place where privacy may be expected.

Do I Have To Be Completely Nude To Violate Nudity Laws?

No. Many nudity laws are worded so that partial nudity, or the display of any sexual body parts, is illegal. This includes the exposure of breasts, vaginas, penises, and buttocks.

What If I Refuse to Wear Clothes as a Political Statement?

Although nudity laws are generally enforceable, courts are less likely to enforce them in cases where the purpose of the nudity is to make a political statement. Political speech is the one of the most protected types of speech, and certain actions can be considered political speech. Therefore, if a defendant undressed to make a point, the nudist can argue that their nudity is political speech and protected by the First Amendment.

Examples of nudity as political speech include stripping to protest TSA rules and GoTopless Day.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you or a family member is accused of violating a public nudity law, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights, your defenses, and the complicated legal system. A criminal defense lawyer can also defend you in any legal proceedings that result from your public nudity.

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Last Modified: 06-02-2015 05:10 PM PDT

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