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Life as a registered sex offender is hard. Your offense is made public. Your address is made public. You have restrictions on where you can live, where you can work, and even where you can attend religious services. You cannot take your own children to school or the park, and you cannot attend their school events—even if your crime did not involve a minor child. The stigma of being branded a sex offender or pedophile is embarrassing and damaging.
For years, people on the sex offender registry have tried to mitigate the embarrassment by saying they were caught urinating in public and required to register as a sex offender for indecent exposure. However, in 2011, Oklahoma enacted a law that specifically prevented charging public urination as a sex offense. No longer can convicted sex offenders hide behind the "public urination" story.
If you are charged with indecent exposure, conviction will require Oklahoma sex offender registration, even though there was no physical contact between you and the subject of the exposure. Do not get confused and think this is a misdemeanor offense like public indecency. A felony sex crime, indecent exposure carries significant penalties. If you are charged, waste no time in hiring a sex crime defense lawyer whose experience and court record demonstrate continued success in tough cases.
The state's indecent exposure law is outlined in the same statute that defines the prohibition of child pornography and solicitation of minors. Clearly, the state takes the offense seriously. As defined in 21 O.S. § 1021 (A), indecent exposure occurs when a person knowingly and lewdly exposes his or her "person or genitals" in a public place where others are present to see and be offended. Acts of indecent exposure include "flashing," public masturbation, sex in public, and other actions that expose one's genitals or private parts to others.
The penalties for indecent exposure include a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine ranging from $500 to $20,000. If a defendant is convicted of exposing himself or herself to a child, the more stringent penalties are typically pursued at sentencing.
Additionally, an indecent exposure conviction mandates compliance with the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registration Act. Indecent exposure is a Level 1 sex offense, which means it requires anyone convicted of this offense to register as a sex offender for 15 years, providing annual address verification to law enforcement.
Unlike indecent exposure, public urination is not a sex offense, nor is it a felony. In fact, Oklahoma's indecent exposure statute specifically excludes public urination as defined in the public indecency statute from inclusion as a sex offense: "for purposes of this section, a person alleged to have committed an act of public urination shall be prosecuted pursuant to Section 22 of this title."
Section 22 of the Oklahoma penal code is the state's public indecency statute. It is somewhat vague in its wording, but it criminalizes acts which fall short of serious felony offenses, but which still disturb the peace, jeopardize public health or outrage public morals:
"Every person who willfully and wrongfully commits any act which grossly injures the person or property of another, or which grosslydisturbs the public peace or health, or which openly outrages public decency, including but not limited to urination in a public place, and is injurious to public morals, although no punishment is expressly prescribed therefore by this code, is guilty of a misdemeanor."
In Oklahoma, misdemeanor offenses, unless a statute explicitly specifies another punishment, are penalized by a maximum of one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $500.
While the law prevents public urination from being charged as a felony sex crime, it does state that if the act is committed in conjunction with an act of indecent exposure, it can be prosecuted as such. For this reason, an act of public indecency can be charged as a felony offense. However, with qualified and experienced legal counsel and defense representation, an inflated charge may be reduced to a misdemeanor or dismissed completely.
To schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss an indecent exposure charge, submit the online case review form or call the offices of Phillips & Associates at (405) 418-8888. To learn more click here.