If you have been charged with public lewdness in Texas, you are being accused of a sexual offense. The same section of the Texas Penal Code also lists indecent exposure as another crime involving public displays of nudity or sexual behavior.
Convictions for public lewdness carry the possible risk of fines and even jail time. On top of these penalties, alleged offenders could also be required to register as sex offenders.
Public Lewdness Defense Lawyer in Plano, Allen, Frisco, and McKinney, TX
Were you or your loved one arrested for public lewdness in Collin County? You need to take the criminal charges very seriously. Our firm will provide an aggressive defense and fight to help you achieve the most desirable outcome to your case.
Call (469) 304-3422 or contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at for a consultation about your alleged offense in Plano, Allen, Frisco, McKinney, TX, and surrounding areas of Collin County, Texas. We can then better understand the nature of your charges and also examine your possible defense options.
Public Lewdness Charges in Texas
Under Texas Penal Code § 21.07, a person commits a public lewdness offense if they knowingly engage in any of the following acts in a public place or, if not in a public place, the person is reckless about whether another is present who will be offended or alarmed by the person’s:
- act of sexual intercourse;
- act of deviate sexual intercourse; or
- act of sexual contact.
This crime is a Class A misdemeanor. Texas Penal Code § 21.08 also establishes that a person commits the crime of indecent exposure when they expose their anus or any part of their genitals with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, and they are reckless about whether another person is present who will be alarmed or offended by their act. Under Texas Penal Code § 6.03(c), a person acts recklessly, or is reckless, with respect to circumstances surrounding their conduct or the result of their conduct when they are aware of but consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur, and the risk must be of such a nature and degree that its disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.
Indecent exposure in Plano may involve:
- Nude sunbathing
- Urinating in public
- Flashing or exposing sexual organs in public
- “Mooning” or exposing your rear in public
A mother breastfeeding her child in public is never considered indecent exposure for criminal purposes. Under Texas Penal Code § 21.07, a person commits public lewdness when they knowingly engage in any of the following acts in a public place or, if not in a public place, they are reckless about whether another is present who will be offended or alarmed by the person’s:
- act of sexual contact;
- act of sexual intercourse; or
- act of deviate sexual intercourse.
Indecent exposure is a Class B misdemeanor.
Penalties for Public Lewdness in Texas
The difference between indecent exposure and public lewdness convictions is that the respective crimes have different grades. Convictions may be punishable as follows:
- Class A Misdemeanor — Up to one year in jail and/or fine of up to $4,000.
- Class B Misdemeanor — Up to 180 days in jail and/or fine of up to $2,000.
Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 62.001(5)(F) establishes that a second violation of Texas Penal Code § 21.08 relating to indecent exposure (unless it results in a deferred adjudication) is considered a “reportable conviction or adjudication.” An offender will have to register as a sex offender with a local law enforcement authority of the county where they reside for a period of 10 years.
Public Lewdness Defenses in Collin County
It is important to understand that intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of another person is incredibly challenging to prove beyond a reasonable doubt because a prosecutor has no way of knowing what an alleged offender was actually thinking unless a person specifically stated they had such intent. One of the most basic defenses to these crimes can be that you had to intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of another person.
Other defenses could be more technical relating to the alleged violations. For example, a person may claim that their genitals were not exposed or that the exposure did not occur in the presence of another person.
Public Lewdness Resources in Collin County
Briceno v. State, 580 S.W.2d 842 (1979) — An appellant convicted of indecency with a child argued the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury on the lesser included offense of indecent exposure. The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas found that the “elements of these two offenses are identical except that indecency with a child requires the defendant to know that a child is present, where indecent exposure requires that the defendant is reckless as to the presence of another person.” The court reversed the judgment and remanded the cause.
Sex Offender Registration Program | Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) — Learn more about the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program. Find answers to many Sex Offender Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). The website also includes a link to Chapter 62 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure relating to the Sex Offender Registration Program.
Hines v. State, 880 S.W.2d 178, 180 (Tex.App.—Texarkana 1994) — Thomas Hines appealed his conviction for the offense of public lewdness. He contended that his misconduct was not in public and that he was not reckless about whether another was present who may have been offended. The State proceeded against Hines under Section 21.07(a)(3) of the Texas Penal Code. As it was stipulated that Hines’ misconduct did not occur in a public place, the State charged that Hines was reckless about whether someone else was present who might be offended or alarmed when he had sexual contact with a person. Specifically, the information charged that Hines engaged in an act of sexual contact, and said he was then and there reckless about whether another was present who would be offended and alarmed by his act of sexual contact in that he was aware of but consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk that [“X”], a child younger than 17 years of age and not the spouse of the defendant, was present and that she would be offended and alarmed by his act of sexual contact and [“X”] was present and offended and alarmed by the defendant’s act of sexual contact.
The public lewdness offense is designed to protect members of the public from being offended or alarmed by what someone is doing. Hines had been a friend of a 13-year-old child and her family for over a year. The family lived on about 30 acres of land in Harrison County. Hines came there to hunt and fish on the property at the family’s invitation. On November 21, 1992, Hines stopped at the family’s house and had a cup of coffee while visiting with the child and her mother. Then he said he was going to go check on some deer stands and asked the child if she wanted to go. Her mother indicated that it was all right, and she went. They left, put corn out to attract deer, and checked on a deer stand. Hines drove down a public road off the family’s property, then turned onto a small trail which went a long way through the woods to the second deer stand. There, deep in the woods, Hines turned off the engine and engaged in the offensive conduct.
The facts here show that Hines engaged in sexual contact with a child younger than 17 years and not his spouse. This conduct clearly constitutes the offense of indecency with a child but does not constitute public lewdness. The State maintained that the child victim is the “other person present” who might have been offended or alarmed. That position is untenable in light of the history and wording of the public lewdness statute. The State maintained that Hines should not be heard to complain because it chose to prosecute him for the misdemeanor offense of public lewdness rather than the felony offense of indecency with a child. Hines, however, complained that he did not commit public lewdness. The Court of Appeals of Texas in Texarkana agreed and reversed the judgment of conviction.
Find A Collin County Attorney to Fight Public Lewdness Charges | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
If you or your loved one have been arrested for public lewdness in Plano or a surrounding area of Collin County, do not hesitate to seek legal counsel. Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy right away.
Contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today at (469) 304-3422 for a consultation about your alleged offense in Plano, Allen, Frisco, McKinney, TX, and surrounding areas of Collin County, Texas.