Naked Man Charged with Outraging Public Decency

Indecent exposure is considered a sex crime, and anyone convicted of the offense must register as an Oklahoma Sex Offender. While some people convicted of this offense try to explain it away as an inflated charge for public urination, the fact is that peeing al fresco is charged as a misdemeanor public indecency offense, not a sex crime.

In fact, there are other offenses which involve much more exposure than public urination and are still charged as misdemeanors. For example, a transient in Oklahoma City was charged with outraging public decency after a naked stroll through Wheeler Park near I-40 and Western earlier this month.

Joshua Cole Phillips, 18, is accused of walking through the park wearing nothing but shoes on his feet and a cloth on his head, and even though children were present and allegedly observed Phillips's display, he was charged with a misdemeanor public indecency. In January, this blog brought you another story about public indecency charges as a couple "having a little fun" after a concert was caught taking naked photos of each other at a local truck stop.

And in 2008, Blake Griffin, then a University of Oklahoma basketball standout, was cited for outraging public decency when a police officer saw him relieving himself in the bushes as he waited for a friend. Clearly, all three incidents have varying degree of public exposure, but none of the offenses meets the statutory definition of indecent exposure, a felony defined in the state criminal code along with child pornography and solicitation of minors:

Every person who willfully and knowingly . . . lewdly exposes his or her person or genitals in any public place, or in any place where there are present other persons to be offended or annoyed thereby . . . shall be guilty, upon conviction, of a felony and shall be and shall be punished by the imposition of a fine of not less than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) nor more than Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000.00) or by imprisonment for not less than thirty (30) days nor more than ten (10) years, or by both such fine and imprisonment. 21 O.S. § 1021(A) Indecent exposure is marked by the lewd intent of the exposure.

Public urination is expressly excluded from indecent exposure charges and penalties. Rather, along with public nakedness without lewdness, it is charged as the misdemeanor offense of outraging public decency: Every person who willfully and wrongfully commits any act which grossly injures the person or property of another, or which grossly disturbs 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 therefor by this code, is guilty of a misdemeanor. 21 O.S. § 22(A)

That's not to say someone who commits an act of public indecency may not be charged with indecent exposure. It is common for prosecutors to file the most serious charge possible for any given crime. A skilled defense lawyer may be able to effectively get the charges reduced. Read more about indecent exposure defense options on our site.

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