Utah Indecent Exposure Laws

Indecent exposure, or lewdness, generally involves exposing your genitals in public. Although indecent exposure encompasses some seemingly benign acts, such as mooning, it can carry harsh penalties (including jail time) and is classified as a sex crime. The following chart highlights Utah's main indecent exposure law.

Code Section

Utah Criminal Code section 76-9-702: Lewdness

What's Prohibited?

Performing any of the following acts in a public place either in front of another person who is at least 14 years old, or under circumstances likely to cause affront or alarm:

  • Sexual intercourse or sodomy
  • Exposing his or her genitals, the female breast below the top of the areola, the buttocks, the anus, or the pubic area
  • Masturbating, or
  • Any other act of lewdness

If the act qualifies as rape, object rape, forcible sodomy, forcible sexual abuse, aggravated sexual assault, or an attempt to commit any of these offenses, then the act doesn't qualify as lewdness.

Penalties

First or second violation: Class B misdemeanor.

A conviction for lewdness can also be a third degree felony if:

  • The offender is a sex offender (as defined in section 77-27-21.7)
  • Has previously been convicted of lewdness two or more times, or
  • Has previously been convicted of lewdness and also lewdness involving a child

A class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail, and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

A third degree felony is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years, and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Breast Feeding

Utah's criminal code specifically states that breast-feeding in public doesn't constitute lewdness. The law states that women who are breast-feeding where they have a right to be doesn't constitute a lewd act, irrespective of whether or not the breast is covered during the feeding.

Public Urination

Utah's criminal code explicitly makes it illegal to urinate or defecate in public under circumstances that the offender should know will likely cause affront or alarm to another (see section 76-9-702.3). However, depending on the circumstances an act of urinating in public may be charged as either lewdness or as public urination. This can make a big difference because public urination is a Class C misdemeanor (punishable by a fine of up to $750 and/or up to 90 days in jail), while lewdness is a generally a Class B misdemeanor (which is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail).

Sex Offender Registry

Some states require indecent exposure offenders to register as sex offenders, however Utah does not. The Utah Code of Criminal Procedure section 77-41-106 outlines which crimes are registerable offenses.

Additional Resources

For lewd acts that were done to, or in the presence of, a child who is less than 14 years old see Utah's statute on lewdness involving a child.

State laws change frequently. For case specific information about Utah's indecent exposure laws contact a local sex crime lawyer or criminal defense attorney.

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