The crime of indecent exposure is governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 Section 53. Although the law itself does not define “indecent exposure,” the term has been defined and interpreted by Massachusetts courts as “an intentional act of lewd exposure, offensive to one or more persons.” Examples of indecent exposure might include:
• urinating in public
• appearing outside the home without wearing clothing
• exposing genitalia in public (e.g., on the MBTA, in a park)
• public masturbation
• sexual behavior in a public setting
In order for an individual to be convicted of indecent exposure, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:
(1) exposed his or her genitals to one or more persons
(2) did so intentionally
(3) offended one or more persons
It should be noted that the crime of indecent exposure is only a misdemeanor and it does not apply to the exposure of pubic hair, buttocks or breasts. An individual’s genitals must be exposed—and intentionally¬—in order for the person to be charged with this crime. (By contrast, see Open and Gross Lewdness and Lascivious Behavior below).
An individual who commits the crime of indecent exposure in MA, categorized as a misdemeanor, can be punished by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for up to 6 months and/or by a fine of up to $200.00. Beyond jail time and fines, however, a conviction for indecent exposure can tarnish your reputation and haunt your future—particularly with regard to educational, employment and housing opportunities. With the potential to face jail time, a fine, and a stained reputation, it is critical to contact an indecent exposure defense attorney at the Greater Boston law firm of Altman & Altman, LLP, as soon as possible if you have been charged with indecent exposure in MA.
Open and Gross Lewdness and Lascivious Behavior
Similar to the crime of “indecent exposure” is the crime of “open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior,” governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 Section 16 as one of the Crimes against Chastity, Morality, Decency and Good Order. Although the law itself does not indicate what specifically constitutes “open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior,” Massachusetts courts have helped to define the offense. Violation of this law requires that defendant:
(1) exposed genitals, breasts, or buttocks
(2) acted intentionally
(3) acted with reckless disregard of public exposure
(4) acted in a manner designed to create shock or alarm
(5) shocked or alarmed one or more persons
It is important to note that, in Massachusetts, breastfeeding is not considered indecent exposure or lewd and lascivious conduct.
Violation of Chapter 272, Section 16 is punishable by up to 3 years in state prison, up to 2 years in jail, or by a fine of up to $300.00. Given the harsher punishment, this offense is considered to be more serious than indecent exposure, and a charge against you is best handled and defended by a seasoned Boston and Cambridge criminal defense lawyer. We understand that facing a criminal charge—particularly a charge that can result in tremendous restrictions on your personal liberty and family life—can be frightening and overwhelming. We are here to help you, whether by seeking to have the charges dropped or by defending you should your case go to trial.
If you or a loved one has been charged with—or are being investigated for—indecent exposure or open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior in MA, call the experienced Greater Boston indecent exposure defense attorneys at Altman & Altman, LLP. Our criminal defense team has the skill and knowledge that comes with over four decades of experience. Contact us to schedule a free, confidential consultation, where we will explain your legal options and answer any legal questions you may have. We are available by phone at 617.492.3000 or at 800.481.6199 (toll free) around the clock and respond promptly to all emails received by the firm.