New York Indecent Exposure Laws

New York criminalizes exposure of a person, one of several offenses "against public sensibilities," where a person appears in a public place and exposes (or does not clothe) the private or intimate parts of his or her body. New York also prohibits the separate crime of promotion of exposure of a person which applies where a person "knowingly conducts, maintains, owns, manages, operates or furnishes any public premise or place where a person in a public place appears in such a manner that the private or intimate parts of his body are unclothed or exposed."

For purposes of both offenses, the private or intimate parts of a female person include that portion of the breast which is below the top of the areola. While a woman who breastfeeds in a public park is not guilty of exposure of a person, a waitress working at a topless bar may be found guilty.

Unlike the crime of public lewdness, another offense against public sensibilities, exposure of a person does not require that a lewd act accompany the exposure or nudity. Another difference between the two is that public lewdness requires the intent to be observed public, something that does not apply to the exposure of a person offense.

Overview of New York Indecent Exposure Laws

The chart below contains additional information on New York's laws relating to indecent exposure.

Code Section
Penalties and Sentences

Exposure of a Person / Promoting the Exposure of a Person: These are violations and are punishable by up to 15 days in prison and a fine of up to $250.

Public Lewdness: This is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 3 months in prison and up to $500.

Defenses

Defenses to indecent exposure charges in New York include:

  • Breastfeeding
  • Performance in a play, exhibition, show or entertainment (this defense is not applicable where local law prohibits such exposure)

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.

Related Resources For New York Indecent Exposure Laws

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Get a Free Initial Evaluation of Your Indecent Exposure Case

While some exposures may be more indecent than others, in New York, any exposure in a public place can constitute a violation, even if defendants don't intend to advertise their bodies. Even if the penalties may not seem that severe, you don't have to accept the embarrassment of a conviction as there are experienced criminal defense attorneys who can help you fight the charges. Reach out to one today for an initial case review at no charge to you.

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