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The Penalties for Misdemeanor Indecent Exposure in Texas

There are a number of misdemeanor crimes that are more serious than you might think. Let’s take indecent exposure. The Texas Penal Code defines this offense as exposing one’s “anus or any part of his genitals with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person,” and in doing so the offender is “reckless about whether another is present who will be offended or alarmed by his act.”

Some might dismiss indecent exposure as a harmless prank. The Penal Code declares it is a Class B misdemeanor. This means that if convicted, the offender faces up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. And if the offender has a prior indecent exposure conviction, he may be required to register as a sex offender.

Victim’s Testimony, Police Recording Help Seal Defendant’s Guilty Verdict, 100-Day Sentence

But if you still think that police and prosecutors would never bother to prosecute such an offense, consider this recent Texas appeals court decision, Scott v. State. The facts of this case were relatively straightforward: Prosecutors charged the defendant with exposing his genitals to a woman he did not know, and did so without her consent or invitation.

According to the police officer who responded to the accuser’s 911 call, the accuser said she was exercising outdoors when a blue car passed her. The car then turned back and pulled up beside her. The male driver–whom the accuser identified as the defendant–then “whistled at her to get her attention” and exposed himself.

The officer’s conversation with the accuser was recorded by the dashboard camera on the officer’s police vehicle. This recording was played to the jury at trial over the defendant’s objections. The defense asserted the recording was inadmissible hearsay.

The trial judge overruled the objection. The jury found the defendant guilty of indecent exposure. The defendant agreed to a sentence of 100 days in jail but reserved his right to appeal.

On appeal, the defendant challenged the admission of the dashboard recording. The crux of his argument was that while there is an exception to the hearsay rule for an “excited utterance”–i.e., a statement made in response to a shocking or startling event–that did not apply here, because the accuser spoke to the police officer at least a half-hour after the alleged indecent exposure, and by her own testimony the victim said she was not “traumatized” by the event.

Nevertheless, the appeals court said that even if the recording was inadmissible, it did not prejudice the defendant’s rights. The appeals court noted there were “several sources” of evidence against the defendant, including the accuser’s identification of him in a lineup, the fact the defendant’s car matched the description provided to the police, and his own statements to police indicating his guilt.

Speak with a Houston Misdemeanor Offenses Lawyer Today

As you can see, even misdemeanor charges can uproot your life and leave you with a criminal record. This is why you need to work with an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney if you charged with any type of misdemeanor. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today if you need help right away. Call (281) 280-0100.