A bill proposed in the Ohio legislature last month could require people convicted of public indecency to register as sex offenders if children were their intended targets.
Sen. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, introduced Senate Bill 358 in September in response to an incident earlier this year in Baltimore, Ohio, according to Cleveland.com. Police caught a 46-year-old man flashing school buses from the window of his second story apartment. The man stood naked in front of his window as students left the school, the website reported.
An act of public indecency is a crime that typically is committed “for the thrill” of the experience. However, law enforcement takes it very seriously and it can be either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. Ohio Revised Code 2907.09 classifies public indecency in three ways:
- Exposing private parts or sexual organs
- Participating in sexual conduct or masturbation
- Engaging in activity that appears to be sexual in nature
A person could be charged with public indecency if he or she committed any of those acts. However, a conviction could be harder to achieve. The prosecution would have to prove the act was done purposefully, or even recklessly.
A public indecency conviction under Ohio law currently does not require registration on the state’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification system. However, Senate Bill 358 would add “purposely” exposing one’s private parts and the other two offenses — if children were the targets — to the list of offenses requiring registration as a Tier I sex offender.
There are three different types of sex offenders in Ohio, and they are classified in tiers based on the offenses that were committed. The requirements for registered sex offenders differ depending on which tier they are classified under.
Sex offenders under Tier I are required to register for 15 years. They must report to the local sheriff’s office and re-register once a year. They will not be subjected to neighborhood and community notification, in which a form is mailed to all neighbors letting them know that person is a registered sex offender.
When an individual registers as a sex offender, he or she is required to provide the local sheriff’s office with their full name, address, a picture, details of the offense they committed and other relevant information. That person also must report where he or she works, all vehicles he or she owns and any email address in his or her control.
The label of a sex offender is a serious punishment and it could include a lifetime of repercussions. In Ohio, those who have been registered as sex offenders will have a series of restrictions that could affect their ability to find a job, secure safe housing and even have quality personal relationships.
If the bill earns support before the end of the legislative session in December, there could be major changes to the way public indecency cases are handled. The state could see an increase in people being listed as sex offenders. All criminal charges should be taken seriously, especially if the result could mean a lifetime of limitations.
For more information about the proposed legislation, view Senate Bill 358.