When Pennsylvania residents consider sex offenses, they may not think about indecent exposure. However, indecent exposure is also a sex offense and it is important for people to know what this means, as well as how the law views it.

People may think that indecent exposure occurs any time a person shows his or her genitals in public. FindLaw says that a particular situation determines whether a person commits indecent exposure. A mother who breastfeeds her infant, for example, usually does not commit this offense. People generally commit indecent exposure if they expose their genitals with the intent to offend or startle other people. This means that the flashing of underwear and urinating in public are not typically included in this offense.

According to FindLaw, indecent exposure is usually a misdemeanor. Most of the time, someone who commits this offense might be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. However, indecent exposure may become a first-degree misdemeanor if people expose themselves when they know there are children younger than 16 in the area. People may have to pay a fine and they may also spend time in prison. The length of a prison sentence usually depends on whether someone commits a first or second-degree misdemeanor. Additionally, some people may have their information entered on a sex registry after the incident.

It may surprise some people to learn that indecent exposure can include incidents which occur in a person’s home. As in public incidents, a person typically has to plan to expose himself or herself to others. Indecent exposure in a private residence generally does not include circumstances when a person accidentally reveals his or her genitals.