Indecent Exposure and Gross Indecency in Michigan


The stigma and embarrassment associated with a conviction for indecent exposure or gross indecency can last a lifetime. A fair number of the indecent exposure and gross indecency cases that our firm has handled in Macomb and Oakland County involve youthful offenders who engage in some type of sexual activity in a public place after consuming alcohol. Sunbathing in the nude or exposing a private body part can qualify as a criminal indecent exposure offense. Yet there are many cases which I like to qualify as misunderstandings because the exposure was unintentional or under circumstances where the offender had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

While most indecent exposure offenses are prosecuted as misdemeanors in Michigan, the offense of gross indecency is a felony punishable by up to five (5) years in prison. Under certain circumstances, indecent exposure or gross indecency can be punished as a felony in Michigan which can carry a maximum term of life in prison if committed by someone who is classified as a sexually delinquent person. Any person charged with offense of indecent exposure or gross indecency should not hesitate to retain legal representation.

Michigan’s Indecent Exposure statute(MCL 750.335a) provides:
1. A person shall not knowingly make any open or indecent exposure of his or her person or of the person of another.
2. A person who violates subsection (1) is guilty of a crime, as follows:
a. Except as provided in subdivision (b) or (c), the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or a fine of not more than $1,000.00, or both.
b. If the person was fondling his or her genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or, if the person is female, breasts, while violating subsection (1), the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both.
c. If the person was at the time of the violation a sexually delinquent person, the violation is punishable by imprisonment for an indeterminate term, the minimum of which is 1 day and the maximum of which is life.

The term “sexually delinquent person”, shall mean any person whose sexual behavior is characterized by repetitive or compulsive acts which indicate a disregard of consequences or the recognized rights of others, or by the use of force upon another person in attempting sex relations of either a heterosexual or homosexual nature, or by the commission of sexual aggressions against children under the age of 16.

The goal of our firm when retained by someone who is charged with indecent exposure or gross indecency is to avoid a conviction under these statutes.

Indecent exposure may involve a limited exposure of a sexually body part. The offense of gross indecency is a higher offense and is not well defined by statute. However, the courts have upheld the gross indecency statute despite assertions that it is vague. Gross indecency cases usually involve a sex act in a public place.

In many cases which our firm has handled, we have been able to have charges amended which do not have the component of being a sex offender. Sometimes, we are able to secure an outcome where the case is taken under advisement or dismissed.

It is extremely important to have legal representation if you or a family member is charged with indecent exposure, gross indecency or other sex crime. An attorney will explore all possible defenses along with alternative possible outcomes to have the charge dismissed or amended to avoid the stigma associated with a sex crime.
ABDO LAW FIRM, PHONE: 586-412-5555