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Michigan Indecent Exposure Lawyer

What Is Indecent Exposure in Michigan?

Indecent Exposure under MCL 750.335a in Michigan is much more serious than many people think. Indecent Exposure charges are different than a simple "urinating in public" ticket. Being convictedof Indecent Exposure in Michigan can get you up to 1 year in Jail, up to a $1000.00 fine, and it could even put you on the Sex Offender Registry. You can even be sentenced up to LIFE in Prison if you are a "sexually delinquent person" at the time of committing an act of Indecent Exposure.

Aggravated Indecent Exposure under MCL 750.335a(2)(b) is even more serious, and is punishable by up to 2 years in Prison and/or a $2,000.00 fine. This is because Aggravated Indecent Exposure involves "fondling." If you are convicted of Aggravated Indecent Exposure, you will be placed on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry.

Indecent Exposure and Aggravated Indecent Exposure in Michigan both fall within the category of Sex Crimes - the same category as the four degrees of Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC 1, CSC 2, CSC 3, and CSC 4). Because a conviction for Indecent Exposure can be life-altering, it is imperative you speak to a Michigan sex crimes attorney rightaway.

RELATED: I'm accused of Indecent Exposure - should I speak to the Police?

What is the definition of Indecent Exposure in Michigan?

In Michigan, the Indecent Exposure law, MCL 750.335a, is very vague. It merely states that:

"A person shall not knowingly make any open or indecent exposure of his or her person or of the person of another."

That is not very helpful. In order to better understand the law of Indecent Exposure and what the Prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, the best place to look is the Standard Jury Instruction. This is the law exactly as it would be read to a jury if you were to take your Indecent Exposure case to trial. It states:

"(1) The defendant is charged with the crime of Indecent Exposure. To prove this charge, the Prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
(2) First, that the defendant exposed his or her [state part of the body].
(3) Second, that the defendant knew that he or she was exposing his or her [state part of the body].
(4) Third, that the defendant did this in a place under circumstances in which another person might reasonably have been expected to observe it and which created a substantial risk that someone might be offended or in a place where such exposure is likely to be an offense against your community’s generally accepted standards of decency and morality. In determining this, you must think about the nature of the act and all of the circumstances surrounding the act."

As you can see, when it comes to the third "element" that the Prosecution must prove, there is much room for argument by a skillful Criminal Defense Attorney. Perhaps the assumption that the place in question is one where another person "might reasonably have been expected to observe it" can be attacked. Likewise, whether there was a "substantial risk that someone might be offended" or whether "such exposure is likely to be an offense against your community's generally accepted standards of decency or morality" is completely debatable. It would be one thing to expose oneself in a church, but it would be a lot different if it were at a weekend Raft-Off on Lake St. Clair. Furthermore, only someone who knows that they are exposing themselves can be convicted of Indecent Exposure in Michigan; accidental exposure (i.e. forgetting to zip up your pants after using the bathroom). There is also an exception for women who are breastfeeding. A woman who is breastfeeding cannot be convicted of Indecent Exposure.

There are some types of crimes that use very "bright line" rules where it's very "black and white" - it either happened or it didn't. But as you can see, Indecent Exposure is not one of those crimes. There is plenty of room for argument by a skillful and experienced trial lawyer. Don't just plead guilty to Indecent Exposure charges in Michigan!

What is the definition of Aggravated Indecent Exposure in Michigan? How is Aggravated Indecent Exposure in Michigan different than regular Indecent Exposure?

In Michigan, the crime that has come to be known as Aggravated Indecent Exposure is essentially an act of Indecent Exposure along with fondling. The Michigan Aggravated Indecent Exposure law, MCL 750.335a(2)(b), states:

"If the person was fondling his or her genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or, if the person is female, breasts, while violating subsection (1), the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both."

Where fondling is involved, the amount of possible time behind bars is doubled, and because the maximum penalty is greater than 1 year, Aggravated Indecent Exposure carries the possibility of time in State Prison, rather than just the County Jail. But here is the problem: what if you were not engaged in any type of fondling at all, but someone claims you were? Not surprisingly, the only information the Prosecution usually relies on charging someone with Indecent Exposure is someone's unsupported claim. This makes defending these cases a unique job meant for only the most skillful Michigan sex crime lawyer and seasoned trial advocate.

RELATED: Should I take a Polygraph in my Indecent Exposure case?

What parts of the body can lead to Indecent Exposure charges when they are exposed? How much "exposure" is necessary?

At Prain Law, PLLC, this is a question we receive more often than you'd imagine. And it is a very good question. When our laws are vague and need further explanation, the appellate Courts give us "case law" by interpreting and further explaining the law. That "case law" becomes part of the law itself.

In Indecent Exposure cases, the Michigan Court of Appeals has said that "indecent exposure is the exhibition of those private parts of the person which instinctive modesty, human decency or natural self-respect requires shall be customarily kept covered in the presence of others.

This implies basically genitals, buttocks, and breasts. However, much is still unclear. For example, how much of the breasts or buttocks is a person allowed to reveal? The law does not specifically say, and many people in Michigan have been prosecuted for Indecent Exposure for pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in society (i.e. women's' bathing suits that keep getting smaller and smaller). Even though there may not be full-on nudity, some types of clothing that barely covers anything at all could technically invite an Indecent Exposure charge. This is because there is no requirement in the law that clothing be absent. Clothing that reveals an outline of these parts of the body could violate the Michigan Indecent Exposure laws. Visual images of those parts of the body are best left to the imagination or behind closed doors.

What is the definition of "Sexually Delinquent Person" in Michigan's Indecent Exposure and Aggravated Indecent Exposure laws?

"Sexually delinquent person" is defined in MCL 750.10a:

"The term 'sexually delinquent person' when used in this act shall mean any person whose sexual behavior is characterized by repetitive or compulsive acts which indicate a disregard of consequences or the recognized rights of others, or by the use of force upon another person in attempting sex relations of either a heterosexual or homosexual nature, or by the commission of sexual aggressions against children under the age of 16."

If you are convicted of either Indecent Exposure or Aggravated Indecent Exposure while being a "sexually delinquent person," you can be sentenced to up to LIFE in Prison. This is when things get very serious. Even though the law says there is a minimum sentence of 1 day in Jail, our Courts have stated that it is possible to get Probation and no Jail. But if you are sentenced to time behind bars for an Indecent Exposure crime as a "sexually delinquent person, our Courts have also said that you must be sentenced to the indefinite term of 1 day in Jail to LIFE in Prison. This means if the Judge sends you to Jail for even 1 day, he or she has NO further discretion over the total length of your sentence - it will be completely up to the Parole Board. Don't let this happen! Hire a Michigan sex crimes lawyer who knows the law beyond just what's in the printed statute.

Being convicted of an Indecent Exposure crime may mean having to register as a Sex Offender - the Michigan Sex Offenders Registration Act...

Every day at Prain Law, PLLC, a new potential client is asking us "will I have to register as a sex offender for Indecent Exposure?" Whether or not an Indecent Exposure case will land someone on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry should always be determined on a case-by-case basis. BUT THAT IS ONLY IF YOU PLEAD GUILTY OR ARE CONVICTED. Our job at Prain Law, PLLC is to fight for you and prevent that from happening.

Generally speaking, though, even if a person is convicted of an Indecent Exposure crime, they will not have to register as a sex offender, unless they are convicted of Aggravated Indecent Exposure involving fondling, and the victim (the person witnessing the exposure of private parts) is a minor. In that case, it is a "Tier 1" offense, which means you would have to register as a sex offender for the next 15 years, and that time period begins after any Jail or Prison time is served.

Normally, a Tier 1 offense would not place you on the Public Sex Offender Registry, only Prosecutors and Police would be able to access your information. However, by its nature, any Indecent Exposure that requires you to register in the first place also involves a minor. Where the victim is a minor, even a Tier 1 offender must register publicly.

You must also be aware that the Michigan Sex Offenders Registration Act contains a "Catchall Provision." This means that even for a conviction that is a "non-sexual offense," sex offender registration could still be required if the offense "by its nature constitutes a sexual offense against an individual who is less than 18 years of age." This creates the distinct possibility that even someone who is convicted of regular Indecent Exposure (as opposed to Aggravated Indecent Exposure) may still be forced to register as a Tier 1 sex offender depending on the facts of the case. Therefore, the Criminal Defense Attorney handling the case must understand this fact (many do not) and fight vigorously against this. Indecent Exposure in Michigan is a serious crime!

When you are publicly registered, any person with access to the internet can find out you are a sex offender. You would be prohibited from residing, working, or loitering within 1000 feet from any school property, known as a "Student Safety Zone" (with exceptions for students living with parents);

In addition to "reporting" or "verifying" (at various intervals, depending on which Tier you fall under), you would have to notify the proper law enforcement agency immediately if you do any of the following:

  • Enroll at any College or University, or discontinue enrollment;
  • Change your place of employment or quit or are fired;
  • Change your residence or domicile;
  • Change your name;
  • Establish any E-mail or Instant Message address or any other type of account used in internet communications or postings;
  • Intend to temporarily reside at any place other than your residence for more than seven days; or
  • Purchase or begin to regularly drive any vehicle, or if you sell, transfer, or stop driving the vehicle.

Failures to register, report/verify, and comply with the Sex Offenders Registry Act are crimes themselves.

Can I get the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act ("HYTA") for Indecent Exposure in Michigan?

The Michigan Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, MCL 762.11, allows an accused young person age 17 to 21 (24 beginning in August 2015) at the time of the offense to plead guilty to the offense, but not ever have a conviction. Instead, the case is dismissed if the sentence is successfully completed.

It is possible to get HYTA for Indecent Exposure. Indecent Exposure does not per se make a person ineligible for. The major advantage of getting HYTA is that you will not have to register as a sex offender. First of all, a person cannot get HYTA for an offense punishable by a maximum sentence of LIFE in Prison. Note that a conviction for Indecent Exposure in Michigan by a "sexually delinquent person" (defined above) is punishable by LIFE. Also, if the facts of the case are such that it is a "listed offense" that requires sex offender registration (see above), you cannot get HYTA unless it is shown by clear and convincing evidence that you are not likely to commit another listed offense.What is more, if the case involves any conduct that is characteristic of 1st Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct ("CSC"), 2nd Degree CSC, 3rd Degree CSC, or 4th Degree CSC, then HYTA is not an option. Even if you do receive HYTA status, you can still be sentenced to Jail or Prison.

What is the Sentence for Indecent Exposure or Aggravated Indecent Exposure in Michigan? Will I go to Jail or Prison for Indecent Exposure or Aggravated Indecent Exposure in Michigan?

Michigan's Indecent Exposure law makes it a misdemeanor punishable by "not more than 1 year in Jail, or by a fine of not more than $1,000.00." Michigan's Aggravated Indecent Exposure law makes it punishable by up to 2 years in Prison. But for or a "sexually delinquent person," the minimum penalty is 1 day in Jail and the maximum penalty is LIFE in Prison.

With the right Attorney fighting your Indecent Exposure case, even if you are technically guilty of the offense, it is possible to still get Probation.

Yes, this is all very intimidating, but it is much more important to focus on how you will fight your Indecent Exposure charges with a top-rated and highly-respected Michigan Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer.

At Prain Law, PLLC, we concentrate on defending those accused of crimes like Indecent Exposure and Aggravated Indecent Exposure. You can have access to comprehensive legal counsel and care by reaching out to our Michigan sex crimes lawyer at your earliest convenience.

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