What Are the Penalties for Indecent Exposure?


Indecent exposure in North Carolina is a serious crime and can carry stiff penalties. It is important to understand what the law says about indecent exposure and what the consequences can be if you are convicted.

According to North Carolina General Statute § 14-190.9, indecent exposure is defined as purposefully exposing a person’s private parts in a public place in front of one or more other people. These two terms – “private parts” and “public place” can seem vague and situationally-specific, but the court has made clear over time what this means.

“Private parts” specifically refers to genitalia and not a person’s buttocks or breasts. It is important to note that the law specifically states that a person breastfeeding a child in public cannot be charged with indecent exposure, even if the person’s nipple is exposed in the process of doing so. Breastfeeding in public is legally protected in North Carolina.

The court has defined “public place” as referring to a place “viewable from any location open to the view of the public at large.” This means that even if a person exposes themselves on private property if they are viewable by the public, they could be charged with indecent exposure.

Penalties for Indecent Exposure in NC

The majority of indecent exposure cases are charged as Class 2 misdemeanors. While many might assume a misdemeanor is not very serious, it can still carry some serious penalties, including:

  • Imprisonment for up to 30 days
  • Probation
  • Community Service
  • Fine up to $1000

If the person over 18 years old exposes themselves to someone under the age of 16 for the purposes of gratifying or arousing sexual desire, they can be charged with aggravated indecent exposure, which is a Class H felony. As with any sex crime involving a child, there are heavy consequences for this crime, including:

  • Imprisonment for 4-8 months
  • Community service
  • Fines
  • Possible lifetime registration as a sex offender

Because of the serious penalties involved in this crime, anyone facing a criminal charge of indecent exposure or aggravated indecent exposure should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Jetton & Meredith, we are committed to protecting our clients’ legal rights.

Contact us online or call us at (704) 931-5535 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced sex crime lawyers.