When Does an Indecent Exposure Charge Apply in Arizona?

Indecent exposure is one of the most common charges in the state of Arizona, but that does not mean you should take it lightly. How you handle an allegation of indecent exposure could be critically important for the outcome of your case, so make sure you contact a Mesa criminal defense attorney even if you feel that the charges are bogus.

The Basics of the Charge

There are two factors that must be present for someone to be accused of indecent exposure: exposure of a private area (such as the nipple of a female breast, the entirety of a female breast, or a person’s genitals or anus) and reckless behavior.

The reckless aspect is important for your case, but it can be difficult to prove in a court of law. This is why it’s imperative to talk to your Mesa criminal defense attorney to determine how you should be prepared to fight this allegation in court.

What the factor boils down to is if the defendant is deemed reckless to have exposed this part of his or body, because he or she should have known that a reasonable person would be offended by the sight of it. Together, the actual exposure and the reckless behavior can form the basis of an indecent exposure charge. Both elements, though, must be present in order for you to be looking at a conviction.

Specific Penalties for These Charges

There is an exception to this rule, and that is breastfeeding. Other exposure of the female’s breast or nipple, provided that it is deemed reckless, can be classified as indecent exposure. Indecent exposure will normally be categorized as a class 1 misdemeanor so long as the person who witnessed the act was aged 15 or older. This is linked to penalties such as spending up to six months in jail and fines that are capped at $2,500.

The penalties become more serious if the individual who witnessed the exposure was under the age of 15. This is where the charge can go from misdemeanor to felony. If the witness involved is under the age of 15, the charge could be a class 6 felony, requiring permanent sex offender registration. If you have a similar charge already on your record, a class 3 felony may apply with up to 12 years in prison.

How to Handle the Charges

Remember that the key word for a charge of this type is “reckless”. A reasonable person would have to be offended by the behavior in question. Therefore, one such example that would not meet the parameters for an indecent exposure charge is a public pool open shower, where individuals might be expected to be nude.

The specifics of your particular case should always be shared with your Mesa criminal defense lawyer. You may wish to use your Fifth Amendment rights and wait to make any statement until your lawyer has reviewed the facts and given you advice about your next steps. Knowing your rights and a strong defense are both important when you’re looking at an indecent exposure charge.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.