Indecent or obscene exposure is a crime in Nevada, and can carry severe penalties.

What is the legal definition of indecent or obscene exposure?

Indecent or obscene exposure is defined in NRS 201.210.

NRS 201.220 – Indecent or obscene exposure; Penalty.

  1. A person who makes any open and indecent or obscene exposure of his or her person, or of the person of another, is guilty:
    1. Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, for the first offense, of a gross misdemeanor.
    2. For any subsequent offense, or if the person has previously been convicted of a sexual offense as defined in NRS 179D.097, of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.
    3. For an offense committed in the presence of a child under the age of 18 years or a vulnerable person as defined in paragraph (a) of subsection 8 of NRS 200.5092, of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.
  2. For the purposes of this section, the breast feeding of a child by the mother of the child does not constitute an act of open or gross lewdness.

Isn’t Indecent exposure basically just “flashing”?

That is one version of Indecent Exposure, yes. But Indecent Exposure does not only involve cases of “flashing.”

Indecent Exposure occurs any time someone exposes themselves in a place where others can see. This would include the exposure of one’s genitalia or backside, or when a woman exposes her breasts.

Is there anything else I should know?

Probably the most important aspect of this crime, because it is not at all obvious, is that the statute says nothing about the exposure taking place in public. In fact, you can be charged with Indecent Exposure even if you are in your own home. Indecent Exposure relies on the knowledge that someone could see, not that someone does see.

In other words, having sex in a public place, say a public restroom or the back seat of your car, while not technically “in public” would still be considered Indecent Exposure because of the likelihood that someone could see the exposure. Similarly, walking naked around your own home could lead to Indecent Exposure charges if the front windows or door were open and allowed passersby to see inside.

Also, it should be noted that going to the bathroom in public, while a crime in itself, can also lead to charges for Indecent Exposure since doing so necessarily requires the exposure of one’s genitalia or backside. (For more information on the crime of public urination and defecation, please click here).

What about Breast Feeding? Wouldn’t that be Indecent Exposure since a woman is exposing her breast in public?

Note that the statute specifically excludes Breast Feeding from the definition of Indecent Exposure. This differentiation arose because of the noted benefits to both mother and child. It is irrelevant how people nearby feel, if a mother exposes her breast for the purpose of breastfeeding her child, then she has not committed indecent exposure.

However, if the mother exposes her breast for a longer period than is reasonably necessary to breastfeed, then she can be charged with Indecent Exposure. There is no exact amount of time to determine when the exposure crosses from incidental to breastfeeding into indecent exposure, which obviously creates a substantial amount of vagueness and uncertainty when breastfeeding is concerned. Generally speaking, though, if the woman leaves her breast exposed for any purpose other than breastfeeding, then it will be considered Indecent Exposure.

What are the possible penalties?

As with many types of sexually related offenses, the penalties Indecent Exposure are determined by whether you have prior convictions for sexually related offenses, as well as the circumstances of your actions.

Please Note: As already noted above, a conviction for Indecent Exposure will require registration on the Sex Offender Registry in addition to all of the penalties listed below.

For first time offenders Indecent Exposure will be charged as a gross misdemeanor and will carry a possible punishment of:

  • Up to 364 days in jail; and/or
  • Possible fines up to $2,000.

If you have a prior conviction for a sexually related crime, then a subsequent charge for Indecent Exposure will be charged as a category D felony and will carry a possible punishment of:

  • Between 1 and 4 years in a Nevada State Prison; and
  • Possible fines up to $5,000.

Further, if you are being charged with Indecent Exposure in the presence of a minor (under 18) or a vulnerable person (usually someone disabled or incapacitated), then the charge will be a category D felony, regardless of whether you have any prior convictions, and the possible punishment will be:

  • Between 1 and 4 years in a Nevada State Prison; and
  • Possible fines up to $5,000.

Please Note: Because there are so many different actions that can lead to Indecent Exposure charges, the specific circumstances of each individual charge become very important. For example, someone charged with Indecent Exposure after urinating in a secluded area is likely to be punished less harshly than someone flashing people in a busy park.

Are there any Defenses?

Yes, of course there are. Generally speaking, there are only a few ways to defend against charges of Indecent Exposure. Some of the possible defenses include:

  • Incidental to Breastfeeding – As already noted, breastfeeding is not considered Indecent Exposure. If a mother’s breast is exposed for a reasonable time before and/or after breastfeeding her child, then she has not violated NRS 201.220. Even if she is being charged with exposing her breast for too long before or after breastfeeding, the definition of such is so vague that this defense may still work.
  • Lack of Evidence – As with any crime, the prosecution bears the burden of proving every element of the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If there is not enough evidence to uphold this high level of proof, then the charges should be dropped or dismissed.
  • Credibility of Witnesses – Although technically not a defense, attacking the credibility of a witness can help to support the defense that there is not enough evidence to convict.

What should I do if I’ve been charged with Indecent Exposure?

As with any crime, it is very important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that you can discuss the specific circumstances as well as any defenses that may apply to your case.

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