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What are Indecent Exposure Laws in Arizona: ARS 13-1402

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Indecent exposure cases can have significant potential consequences, especially when the victim is under the age of 15.

In Arizona, these offenses can be charged as a class 1 misdemeanor or elevated to a class 6 felony, depending on the circumstances.


Individuals convicted may also be required to register as sex offenders. If you are facing such charges, the criminal defense attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta are here to help. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case and protect your rights.

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Indecent Exposure

What are the Indecent Exposure Laws in Arizona Under ARS 13-1402  

According to ARS 13-1402(A), a person commits indecent exposure if they expose their genitals or anus, or if a woman exposes the areola or nipple of her breasts, in the presence of another person. The exposure must be done recklessly, meaning the person is aware that their actions would likely offend or alarm a reasonable person.

public indecency penalties

What are the Penalties for an Indecent Exposure Charge 

The penalties for an indecent exposure charge in Arizona can be severe, depending on the circumstances and the defendant’s criminal history. A class 1 misdemeanor, applicable when the victim is 15 years or older, can result in up to 6 months in jail, fines up to $2,500, and probation.

In cases where the victim is under 15 years old, the charge escalates to a class 6 felony, carrying a potential prison sentence of 1 to 2 years.

Additionally, offenders may face mandatory sex offender registration, particularly in cases involving minors. This requirement can significantly impact the individual’s personal and professional life. Courts may also impose probation, which can include conditions such as community service, counseling, and regular meetings with a probation officer. Fines and restitution payments to the victim for emotional distress or damages are also common penalties.


Classification Conditions Penalty
Class 1 Misdemeanor Victim is 15 years or older Up to 6 months in jail, fines, probation
Class 6 Felony Victim is under 15 years old 1 year to 2 years in prison
Class 6 Felony Victim is 15 years or older, with two or more prior indecent exposure convictions 1 year to 2 years in prison
Class 3 Felony Felony violation with two or more historical prior felony convictions for indecent exposure or public sexual indecency involving a minor under 15 Mitigated: 6 years
Minimum: 8 years
Presumptive: 10 years
Maximum: 12 years
Aggravated: 15 years

What Could Aggravate an Indecent Exposure Charge 

Several factors can aggravate an indecent exposure charge in Arizona, leading to more severe penalties. These factors include the age of the victim, the location of the offense, and the offender’s criminal history. Below are some examples illustrating how these factors can influence the severity of the charges.


Victim’s Age

 If an individual exposes themselves to a child under 15 years old, the offense is automatically classified as a class 6 felony. 


Location of the Offense

Committing indecent exposure in a location frequented by minors, such as a school, park, or daycare center, can also aggravate the charge. 


Prior Convictions

A history of similar offenses can result in more severe charges. If a person has two or more prior convictions for indecent exposure or a previous conviction for sexual assault, any new indecent exposure charge may be elevated to a class 6 felony.

Presence of Vulnerable Individuals

Exposing oneself in the presence of vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly or those with disabilities, can also aggravate the charge. 

Recidivism and Enhanced Sentencing

Repeat offenders with two or more historical prior felony convictions for indecent exposure or public sexual indecency involving a minor under 15 can face class 3 felony charges. For example, a person with a history of indecent exposure involving minors who reoffends might face a prison sentence ranging from 6 to 15 years.

Will You Have to Register as a Sex Offender? 

In Arizona, whether you have to register as a sex offender after an indecent exposure conviction depends on the specifics of the case.

Typically, if the victim is under 15 years old, registration as a sex offender is mandatory.

This requirement aims to protect the community by monitoring individuals deemed a potential risk. However, for cases involving victims who are 15 years or older, the court may have discretion based on the circumstances and severity of the offense. Sex offender registration can significantly impact your life, affecting employment, housing, and social relationships.

What Possible Defenses Could a Defense Attorney Use 

When facing an indecent exposure charge, a defense attorney can employ several strategies to protect the accused’s rights and seek a favorable outcome. Common defenses include:


Lack of Intent

The prosecution must prove that the exposure was intentional and reckless. If the defendant can demonstrate that the exposure was accidental, this defense could negate the required intent for conviction. For example, if a wardrobe malfunction occurred without the defendant’s awareness, it may not meet the criteria for indecent exposure.


Mistaken Identity

In cases where the exposure occurred in a crowded or public space, the defense might argue that the defendant was not the person who committed the act. Eyewitness testimonies can be unreliable, and the defense can cast doubt on the identification of the defendant as the perpetrator.


Insufficient Evidence

A defense attorney may challenge the prosecution’s evidence, arguing that there is not enough proof to establish that indecent exposure occurred. This could involve questioning the credibility of witnesses, the clarity of surveillance footage, or other pieces of evidence that are key to the prosecution’s case.


Constitutional Violations

If law enforcement violated the defendant’s constitutional rights during the investigation or arrest—such as conducting an unlawful search and seizure—the defense can argue that any evidence obtained as a result should be excluded from the trial.


Contextual Misunderstanding

The defense may argue that the context of the exposure was misunderstood. For example, if the defendant was in a private area and did not realize they were visible to others, this lack of awareness might be used to argue against the charge of indecent exposure.

public sexual indecency

Is Public Sexual Indecency the Same as Indecent Exposure?

Public sexual indecency and indecent exposure are related but distinct offenses under Arizona law. Indecent exposure, defined by ARS 13-1402, involves the exposure of genitals, anus, or for women, the areola or nipple of the breast, with reckless disregard for whether it will offend or alarm others.

Public sexual indecency, on the other hand, involves engaging in sexual acts in a public place where others are present.

While both offenses involve inappropriate public conduct, public sexual indecency specifically requires the act of sexual contact or behavior, making it a more severe offense in many cases.

FAQ: Indecent Exposure


Is kissing in public public indecency?

No, kissing in public is generally not considered public indecency unless it involves explicit sexual acts or is done in a manner meant to offend or disturb others. Public indecency laws typically address more overt sexual behavior.


What are the elements of indecent exposure?

The elements of indecent exposure in Arizona include exposing one’s genitals or anus, or for women, the areola or nipple of their breast, in the presence of another person. The act must be done recklessly, with the awareness that a reasonable person would be offended or alarmed by the exposure.


Are see-through clothes legal?

Wearing see-through clothes is generally legal unless it results in exposing the genitals or anus in a manner that could be considered indecent exposure. If the see-through clothing leads to visible nudity that could offend or alarm others, it may be subject to indecent exposure charges.


Is flashing breasts indecent exposure?

Yes, in Arizona, flashing breasts can be considered indecent exposure if it involves exposing the areola or nipple in a manner that is likely to offend or alarm others. 


Can you get in trouble for peeing on the street?

Yes, urinating in public can be considered indecent exposure, especially if it results in the exposure of genitals in the presence of others. 


Is skinny dipping illegal in Arizona?

Skinny dipping in a public place or where others are present can be charged as indecent exposure due to the exposure of genitals. 


Is There a Federal Law for Indecent Exposure?

There is no specific federal law for indecent exposure as a distinct crime. However, indecent exposure can be prosecuted under federal statutes if it occurs on federal property or involves interstate commerce, addressing lewd and obscene conduct on a broader scale.


Is breastfeeding in public legal?

Yes, breastfeeding in public is legal in Arizona. According to ARS 13-1402(B), an act of breastfeeding by a mother is explicitly excluded from being classified as indecent exposure. This law protects mothers who choose to nurse their children in public places.

Contact a Sex Crimes Defense Attorney

If you are facing charges for indecent exposure or any other sex-related offense, it is important to seek experienced legal representation. The skilled attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta specialize in defending clients against sex crime charges. They will work diligently to protect your rights and build a strong defense.

Contact CHM’s sex crime lawyers at (602) 825-2500 today for a FREE and confidential initial consultation. 

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