Indecent exposure is the crime of individuals exposing their intimate areas to other individuals to either get sexual gratification or offend them.

While indecent exposure does not involve the defendant touching a victim or threatening any violence, it does require that the defendant know their actions would shock and alarm other people.

How Is Indecent Exposure Charged in Washington State?

In Washington State, indecent exposure can be charged as a misdemeanor, felony, or gross misdemeanor, depending on the facts of the case.

What Does the State Have to Establish to Convict Me of Indecent Exposure?

According to Washington State law, a person is guilty when they:

  • Purposely make any obscene or open exposure;
  • To or in front of another person; and
  • Knowing their conduct is likely to cause reasonable alarm.

Can I Be Arrested for Indecent Exposure in Washington State if I Breastfeed?

Washington State expressly mentions that breastfeeding is not considered indecent or obscene exposure.

Is Urinating in Public Considered Indecent Exposure?

No, depending on where the urinating is done. An individual urinating outside of the plain view of the public, such as while ducking behind a bush, would not be committing indecent exposure because of lack of intent and lack of sexual gratification.

When Is This Criminal Act a Gross Misdemeanor?

Indecent exposure is a gross misdemeanor when the defendant exposes themselves to a person under 14 years old.

When Is Exposing Myself a Felony in Washington State?

Indecent exposure is a class C felony if the defendant has been formerly convicted for indecent exposure or another sex offense, such as sexual exploitation of children, incest, and patronizing a prostitute.

What Is the Misdemeanor Punishment for Indecent Exposure?

A defendant convicted of misdemeanor indecent exposure can face up to 90 days in jail or a fine of up to $1,000. The defendant may be instructed to participate in treatment for sex offenders.

What Is the Punishment for a Gross Misdemeanor Conviction?

A gross misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to 364 days in jail or a fine of up to $5,000. The defendant may be instructed to participate in treatment for sex offenders.

Do All Gross Misdemeanors Show On Your Criminal Record?

A criminal record is documentation of an individual’s prior convictions or charges. When an individual has a previous conviction for a crime, it is usually said they have a criminal record. Having a criminal record can affect a person in many ways, including whether or not they can get particular employment.

Criminal records are maintained in a database in Washington’s local and county court systems. These records are typically public and may be accessed by anyone. In some instances, criminal records may be sealed or expunged.

A gross misdemeanor conviction will appear on a person’s criminal record, just like any other criminal conviction. A gross misdemeanor conviction will stay on an individual’s criminal record for life unless expunged. Gross misdemeanor convictions will also appear on background checks, such as those for employment applications.

It is possible to have a gross misdemeanor expunged from an individual’s criminal record. Expungement will remove the conviction from the person’s criminal record, so it will not appear on background checks.

A court does not automatically give an expungement and usually requires a hearing to determine an individual’s eligibility. They may be required to satisfy conditions such as completing sentences or paying fines. In some cases, people must wait a specific time, such as 5-10 years, before a conviction can be expunged.

It is always useful to have the help of an attorney when petitioning a court for expungement.

What Is the Felony Punishment for Indecent Exposure in Washington State?

A defendant convicted of class C felony indecent exposure can face up to 5 years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000. The defendant may be instructed to participate in a sexual deviancy examination and be ordered to partake in sex offender treatment. Since Class C felonies tend to be midrange crimes, the penalties that a convicted defendant can receive may be less than life without parole but will probably include some jail time.

The normal amount of Class C felony jail time that a convicted defendant may need to serve is usually between two to five years. Nevertheless, it is possible to get a longer sentence.

Some other punishments for Class C felonies include monetary fines, parole, probation, restitution, and community service. A Class C felony conviction can also lead to a loss of certain privileges and benefits, such as restrictions on voting, serving on a jury, owning firearms, or securing a job or housing.

What Are Some Defenses to Class C Felonies?

Depending on what Class C felony the defendant is charged with and the laws of the jurisdiction, they may be able to raise several defenses, such as:

  • Self-defense or defense of another party;
  • Lack of proof or evidence;
  • Mistaken identity;
  • Lack of intent;
  • Alibi; or
  • Mitigating factors.

What Is the Difference Between an Infraction, a Misdemeanor, and a Felony?

Both states and the federal government typically separate crimes into three broad categories:

  • Infractions (or citations),
  • Misdemeanors, and
  • Felonies.

The definitions and penalties for crimes that fall into each classification will differ by jurisdiction.

Generally speaking, infractions tend to be the least severe out of the three major categories of crimes. In most circumstances, an infraction will only result in having to pay a fine.

Misdemeanors are the second category that crimes may fall under and are halfway between infractions and felonies. Therefore, the punishments for misdemeanors are usually more severe than those for infractions but are less severe than those for felonies. Nevertheless, unlike infractions or citations, misdemeanors can result in one full year of jail time. Many courts may also impose fines, ranging from $100 to $5,000.

Some states may also use a classification system to split misdemeanors into additional subcategories (e.g., Class A/1 misdemeanors). The various levels or degrees of misdemeanors operate in the same way as the ones for felonies.

Lastly, crimes classified as part of the third category (i.e., felonies) involve the most serious offenses and penalties. For example, defendants convicted of felony first-degree murder can be sentenced to prison for life in some states or may even receive the death penalty. Other examples of felony offenses include robbery, bribery, arson, and forgery.

In addition, felony convictions also have the farthest-reaching consequences and can affect a person’s life long after serving their time and paying any fines. For example, felony convictions may restrict a person’s ability to travel outside of the country, vote in elections, and own a gun.

Should I Contact a Lawyer for Help with My Case?

Contact a Washington criminal lawyer immediately about fighting your case. If you are facing charges for a Class C felony, then there is a strong chance that you may need to serve time in prison. Thus, it may be in your best interest to consult a local criminal lawyer for further advice. An experienced criminal attorney will be able to explore and discuss your options.

Your attorney will also be able to determine whether there are any defenses you can raise against the charges or can request that you receive a reduced sentence. Further, your attorney can help you prepare a concrete defensive argument and can represent you in court or during negotiations for a plea deal.