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When Public Pranks Become Indecent Exposure

Posted by Steve Karimi | Feb 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

It doesn't have to be Mardi Gras or New Year's Eve to read headlines of people running naked through crowds or winding up in public places naked. Usually, alcohol or drugs are involved in these shenanigans. When these individuals are corralled by law enforcement, they are usually arrested and charged with a variety of charges, indecent exposure being one of them. Other than the obvious—a person is partially or fully unclothed in public—what factors comprise indecent exposure?

Anatomy of an Indecent Exposure Arrest

For a person to be charged with indecent exposure situation, he or she must intentionally remove his or her own clothes. In other words, the person must have the intention of being naked in public. If circumstances are such that a person winds up in a hallway or in a public place half-dressed accidentally, charges may be avoided.

It may seem obvious, but the second characteristic of a valid indecent exposure charge is that someone must be partially or fully nude. A person could also be charged with indecent exposure for removing someone else's clothing or causing another person to be exposed in public.

Showing up in public without clothing may bring stares and shock, but simply being naked is not enough to yield charges. The act of nudity, in part or fully, must be open and obscene to rise to the level of indecent exposure charges.

A final ingredient rounding out a potential indecent exposure arrest is that the person knew or should have known the behavior would alarm or be wildly off-putting to others. Actions of dancing or otherwise drawing more attention to one's nakedness while in public can signal this.

A Case Study: The Phoenix Open “Streaker”

In January 2018, a nude man sprinted across the greens at the 17th hole of Scottsdale, Arizona's TPC Golf Course at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Record crowds celebrated his antics but police were not amused. The drunk 24-year-old man was arrested and charged with indecent and disorderly conduct, two charges that often go together. The young man performed in front of thousands of fans seeking a peek at the golfers and the many Hollywood stars in attendance. Fans got more than a peek at his fully naked body. All four elements were present in this alleged indecent exposure incident—intent, public nakedness, obscenity, and knowledge of alarm.

Reports of public nudity show up in the newspapers and on the evening news from time to time. While not commonplace, for whatever reason, people sometimes take celebrations too far, drink too much, use drugs that remove inhibitions, or exhibit something more sinister, like signs of being a sexual predator. The charge of indecent exposure can seriously affect someone's reputation and bring costly fines and jail time. Former prosecutor, Steve Karimi, can help preserve your rights in court. Your best chance of avoiding serious legal consequences is to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Karimi Law attorneys can help. Call today to schedule your appointment.

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.


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If you were arrested or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Seattle or surrounding areas of Washington State, the Law Offices of Steve Karimi can help. Call 206-660-6200 24 hours a day for a free consultation.

Seattle Defense Lawyer

Named a "rising star" in criminal defense by Washington Law and Politics magazine, Mr. Karimi is a former prosecutor for King County who uses his insight into prosecution strategies to protect his clients' rights in criminal court.