Public Indecency in Illinois



Public indecency in Chicago is a complicated and serious criminal charge. The penalties and other consequences you face will depend on the circumstances surrounding the incident. In most cases, the crime of public indecency is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois. The gist of being charged with public indecency is that you exposed yourself in a public place. If you are convicted of public indecency, you face up to a year in jail, and a maximum fine of $2500. The most problematic part of being charged with public indecency is that it is considered a sex crime, and in some situations, those convicted of public indecency will have to register in Illinois as a sex offender, after serving whatever sentence is imposed by the judge. Any person who is under the age of 16 cannot be prosecuted for public indecency, although they can face charges of disorderly conduct for behavior that would be charged as public indecency in an older person.

Elements of a Public Indecency Charge

A person who is 17 years of age or older can be charged with public indecency if he or she engages in sexual conduct in public, or if he or she exposes their body in a lewd way, with the intention of arousing or satisfying their own sexual desire in public.

Prosecution of Public Indecency Charges

To be convicted of indecent exposure, the prosecutor must be able to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to either lewdly expose yourself or to arouse or satisfy your sexual desires. The prosecutor must also be able to establish that the place where the exposure occurred was in fact public. Public is any place where you can reasonably expect to be seen.  

Sex Offender Registration

A single instance of public indecency usually does not warrant inclusion on Illinois’ sex offender registry. Multiple incidents, however, might require you to be included on the registry. Anyone with three or more public indecency convictions will be required to register as a sex offender.

Felony Public Indecency

Anyone with three or more convictions for public indecency will be prosecuted for a Class 4 felony on another public indecency charge. If the public indecency occurs within 500 feet of an elementary or secondary school at a time when children are present, then it will also be prosecuted as a Class 4 felony.

Additional Consequences of a Public Indecency Conviction

While public indecency may sound at first blush like a minor crime, a conviction can carry consequences in addition to criminal punishment. Being convicted of public indecency can seriously limit your future career prospects. As the charge of public indecency cannot be sealed or expunged from your criminal record, and it is a sex crime, many employers will not want to take a chance and hire you. This becomes even more true with each subsequent arrest, and especially if you are a registered sex offender.

Fighting a Public Indecency Charge

Being arrested for public indecency does not necessarily mean you will be convicted. An experienced criminal defense attorney will increase your odds of obtaining a good outcome. There are many elements of a public indecency arrest that are subjective, and many times it is arbitrarily based on the whim of the arresting officer as to whether or not an act of indecency occurred. What is indecent to the arresting officer may not be considered public indecency to a jury.

The prosecution also needs to prove that your conduct was lewd or indecent to obtain a conviction. If your attorney can successfully argue that your actions were not intended to be sexual in nature, you may be acquitted. The specific strategy that will be used to defend your charges will depend upon the specifics of the situation.

There are defenses available to protect your rights if you have been charged with public indecency. Knowing your rights is the first step in the process, so if you are being charged with public indecency and would like to discuss potential defenses available to you, call an experienced criminal defense attorney at David Freidberg law today, at (312) 560-7100, or email, for a no-obligation consultation.  

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