Pennsylvania Indecent Exposure Laws

Overview of Pennsylvania Indecent Exposure Laws

In Pennsylvania, it is against the law to commit indecent exposure. Indecent exposure occurs if a person exposes his or her genitals in any public place or in any place where other people are present in circumstances that he or she knows or should know that the exposure will likely offend or alarm others.

Indecent exposure generally includes exposing one's private parts (genitals) in public, but can also include situations where someone is in their own home but exposing themselves to others. Having consensual sexual intercourse in a public place may result in indecent exposure charges, specifically if genitals are clearly exposed, but it most likely would be charged as "open lewdness."

One commits an act of open lewdness (a third-degree misdemeanor) if "he does any lewd act which he knows is likely to be observed by others who would be affronted or alarmed."

While there has been some controversy over the public exposure of female breasts, this is generally not considered indecent -- mothers who breastfeed their children, for example, are free to do so in public. Additionally, exposing one's underwear is not considered an indecent act.

If the defendant takes the indecent exposure one step further and actually touches or makes physical contact with another, the charge may be elevated to sexual assault, depending on the circumstances.

Below you will find detailed information about Pennsylvania's indecent exposure laws and penalties.

Code Section

Pennsylvania Statutes, Title 18, Chapter 31, Section 3127 (Scroll down to the section on indecent exposure)

Defenses

Defenses to Indecent Exposure Charges
  • Lack of intent (i.e. an accidental exposure of the defendant's genitals occurred)
  • Lack of knowledge that the exposure would offend or alarm others
  • Insanity
  • Age
  • Intoxication
  • No exposure actually occurred

Penalties

If the defendant exposed himself or herself and the persons present were less than 16 years of age, the charge will be a first degree misdemeanor. This carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and/or discretionary fines set by the judge. Otherwise, indecent exposure is a second degree misdemeanor, carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison and/or discretionary fines set by the judge.

Mandatory Sex Registration

 Yes

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Pennsylvania Criminal Laws Related Resources:

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