Maryland Indecent Exposure Laws

Generally, indecent exposure is the intentional exposing of one’s genitals in a public place to alarm others or for sexual gratification. In Maryland, indecent exposure is a common law crime meaning it’s defined in case law rather than in the statutes. However, the penalty for indecent exposure is now set by an indecent exposure statute.

The Maryland indecent exposure common law crime elements and statutes are described in the table below.

Code Section Maryland Code, Criminal Law, Title 11, Subtitle 1, Section 11-107; Correctional Services, Title 8, Subsection 8, Section 8-803
What is Prohibited?

Maryland cases describe the main elements of indecent exposure as:

  1. The willful and intentional exposure of one’s private parts (genitals, buttocks, or female breasts)
  2. In a public place and
  3. In the presence of others.

In a 1957 case, Messina v. State, indecent exposure is described as exposing oneself “in a public place in such a manner that the act is seen or is likely to be seen by casual observers.”

For inmates, it’s the same idea, but is written in the statute. Inmates are prohibited from indecently exposing their private parts in the presence of a correctional officer with the intent to annoy, abuse, harass, or embarrass the officer.

Penalties Indecent exposure and inmate indecent exposure are misdemeanors in Maryland carrying a punishment of up to three year imprisonment and a fine up to $1,000.

Some states require individuals convicted of indecent exposure to register as sex offenders, but not in Maryland. This Maryland Court of Appeals decided in 2009 that as this crime isn’t listed in the sex offender registry statute and isn’t by its nature a sexual offense so sex offender registry wasn’t an appropriate punishment. However, registry can still be required for crimes that are by their nature sexual offenses against children under 18. Therefore, depending on the circumstances, you can still be placed on the sex offender registry.
Defenses In Maryland, moms have a right to breastfeed their babies in public. This law would also be a defense to an indecent exposure charge. However, because of this law a police officer wouldn’t ticket or arrest a breastfeeding mom nor would a prosecutor be likely to bring a charge against the mom.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Maryland Indecent Exposure Laws: Related Resources

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An indecent exposure charge could result in prison or fines, but it can also damage your reputation and employability. No matter how innocent you think your actions were you should take an indecent exposure accusation seriously. Contact a local attorney for a free initial case assessment to discuss how they can help defend you against this embarassing charge.

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