Whether you are relieving yourself in an area with no restrooms or getting intimate with a partner in what you thought was a private area, public indecency is a charge that can come out of left field. In fact, you may have been charged with the crime while having no motive of committing public indecency at all. No matter the circumstances, public indecency is a serious crime, and facing such a charge requires the skill and handling of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
If you have been charged with the sex crime of public indecency in Illinois, the team of criminal defense attorneys at Dolci & Weiland believe that it is important for you to understand the nature of your charge, as well as the penalties that you may face upon conviction. You don't have to fight alone--we're here to help you fight against your charge.
An Overview of Public Indecency
Public indecency is prohibited by Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/11-30, which states that a person who is 17 or older commits a public indecency when:
- Performing an act of sexual penetration or sexual conduct; or
- Engaging in lewd exposure of the body with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of a person.
Conspicuously absent from the list is nudity, although that is the first thing many people think of when they hear the charge. Nevertheless, a person does not have to expose himself or herself to face a public indecency charge--in fact, a person can be charged with the crime while fully clothed. Illinois' public indecency statute defines a public place as "any place where the conduct may reasonably be expected to be viewed by others."
Potential Penalties for Public Indecency in Illinois
Public indecency is the only sex crime that can be a misdemeanor; a first or second offense of the crime is will result in a Class A misdemeanor charge. This does not mean that a public indecency charge should be taken lightly; as illustrated below, the nature of the crime can lead to severe consequences, regardless of the crime's classification.
A Class A misdemeanor charge can result in the following penalties upon conviction:
- Up to one year in jail; and/or
- A fine of up to $2,500.00
Public indecency can also be a felony. A charge of public indecency can be escalated to a Class 4 felony if:
- The offense is a person's third or subsequent violation; or
- The offense is committed on or within 500 feet of an elementary or secondary school when children are present on school grounds.
If you are convicted of felony indecent exposure, you can be sentenced to imprisonment for one to three years, as well as face a fine of up to $25,000.00.
Whereas many crimes can be erased from a person's record in certain circumstances, this is not the case with public indecency. A conviction of public indecency can never be sealed, nor can it be expunged from a person's record--the conviction would be on a person's criminal record for life.
Registration as a Sex Offender
Surprisingly, the most serious and lasting punishment a person can face if convicted of a public indecency charge is not jail time. Because public indecency is classified as a sex crime, if you are found guilty of public indecency in Illinois, you may have to register yourself on the Illinois Sex Offender Registry. This is an online database which displays a photo of the alleged offender, along with shockingly personal details such as the person's age, birthdate, and address.
The ramifications of registering on the Sex Offender Registry can be devastating to a person's life. A person on the registry may be barred from visiting locations where children are often present, such as schools and public parks. The social stigma that follows a person on the sex offender registry can brand a person as a dangerous person for life. Employers may deny you for a job because of your placement on the registry, and it can be extremely difficult to rent an apartment or find housing. The sex offender registry can also put those who are listed in danger. The in-depth details of the offender can make the individual an easy target for someone who wants to retaliate against the offender.
Potential Defenses to a Public Indecency Charge
Following a charge of public indecency, it's important to find legal help as soon as possible. A criminal defense attorney who is well-versed in sex crimes may be able to assert a legal defense which could help lessen the severity of your charge. In some cases, a defense may be so damaging to a prosecutor's case that your case could be dismissed altogether.
The Act did Not Occur in a Public Place
Even if you were engaging in the alleged act which resulted in your charge, your attorney may be able to assert that you were not in a public place at the time of the act. Remember that the act must occur in a public place where conduct may reasonably expect to be viewed by others. If you were engaging in sexual intercourse with your partner in a secluded area of a park in the middle of the night, for example, your attorney can argue that you had no reasonable expectation that someone would be in the area at the time of the act.
You Were Not Attempting to Arouse Someone
When it comes to a charge of public indecency, intent is a key element of the charge--you must have meant to commit the criminal act. If you did not expose yourself for purposes of sexual arousal, for example, your criminal defense attorney can argue that you lacked the intent needed to commit the crime.
Facing a Public Indecency Charge? We Can Help
If you've been charged with public indecency in Illinois, you may be feeling frightened, confused, or hopeless. The last thing that you should do after such a charge is attempt to fight your legal battle on your own. Luckily, with Dolci & Weiland's criminal defense team on standby, that doesn't have to be an option. Our attorneys are committed to providing the quality representation you need and deserve to defend against your charge.
Don't let a poor decision have a lasting impact on your life--to speak with a member of Dolci & Weiland's legal team about your charge, fill out an online case evaluation form or call the office nearest to you today--for our downtown Chicago office, call (312) 238-9007, or for our DuPage location, contact (630) 261-9098.