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Public Indecency

We have a proven track record of success in handling over 15,000 criminal cases and consistently awarded as one of Ohio’s top criminal defense firms. We are highly experienced public indecency lawyers. Experience matters when dealing with these cases, which prosecutors and judges handle differently on a case by case basis. We know what to expect and what to do to get the best result possible.

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Public Indecency Defense Lawyer in Columbus, OH

Columbus law enforcement officers and courts take acts of public indecency very seriously. If you are charged and convicted of public indecency, Ohio laws say that a judge could order you to spend time in jail, pay fines, and register as a sex offender.

Do not undermine the seriousness of a public indecency charge. Beyond time behind bars and steep fines, you could suffer from the social stigma of sex offender registration and struggle with difficulty finding housing or employment if convicted. Instead, consider hiring a lawyer with experience in defending Ohio sex crimes—someone who can protect your rights as a criminal defendant.

Joslyn Law Firm has defended more than 20,000 criminal cases in Columbus and throughout Franklin County, as well as other parts of Ohio. Our firm is recognized as the de facto knowledge source for media outlets when they need to understand Ohio criminal law for stories they are covering. Among the media we inform are local affiliates like 4 NBC, 6 ABC, 28 FOX, 10 WBNS, as well as The Plain Dealer and The Columbus Dispatch.

Furthermore, Brian Joslyn is recognized as one of Ohio’s most skilled criminal defense lawyers. Columbus CEO Magazine named him a “Top Lawyer,” and the Super Lawyers rating service designated Joslyn a “Rising Star” in Ohio. He has gained national recognition, too, as one of the “Top 10” best criminal lawyers in Ohio, as acknowledged by The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys.

Columbus Defense Lawyer for Public Indecency

Ohio laws pertaining to public indecency charges have changed in recent years. The new laws place a higher burden of proof on prosecutors. Your case is best served by a lawyer who knows how to use these changes to your advantage.

If police are knocking on your door or asking you to provide a statement or consent to a search, you must know that you have rights. If you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent until you have legal counsel, and you should avail yourself of it quickly. Our law firm can act on your behalf, ensuring you do not say or do anything that can later be used against you.

Police are not on your side; we are. Our lawyers do not judge. We will handle your case professionally and respectfully. Our clients include criminal defendants of every walk of life—professionals, athletes, students, and blue-collar workers—throughout Central Ohio, including Franklin County, Madison County, Fairfield County, Pickaway County, Licking County, and Delaware County.

If you live in or around Lancaster, Dublin, Powell, Columbus, Arlington, or Grove City and have been accused of public indecency, we want to defend you against this charge. Contact Joslyn Law Firm today at (614) 444-1900 for a free consultation.


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Public Indecency in Columbus, Ohio Information Center


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Public Indecency Charges in Columbus

Ohio Revised Code 2907.09 defines the actions that constitute public indecency in Columbus. According to the statute, a person is guilty of public indecency if they commit any of the following acts when they could be seen by others who are not members of the same household and who may be offended by the acts:

  • Exposing private parts or sexual organs
  • Participating in sexual conduct or masturbation
  • Engaging in activity that appears to be sexual in nature
  • Exposing private parts for sexual arousal or to lure a minor into sexual activity

Whether reckless or intentional, committing any of the actions mentioned above can result in public indecency charges.

How Acts of Public Indecency Are Charged in Columbus

In 2007, Senate Bill 245 changed how public indecency offenses are charged, making the circumstances of the case and prior convictions play a role. Consider the following examples of how the circumstances affect charges of reckless public indecency:

  • The act of exposing private parts in Ohio is generally charged as a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
  • If the offender has a prior violation, the offense is charged as a third-degree misdemeanor.
  • Two prior convictions constitute a second-degree misdemeanor.
  • Three or more prior violations cause the offense to be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor.
  • If the offense involved a minor, the offender is subject to a felony of the fifth degree.

Meanwhile, public acts of masturbation or sexual conduct—or acts that appear to be masturbation or sexual conduct—constitute a third-degree misdemeanor. A prior violation makes it a second-degree misdemeanor. If a minor was involved or the offender has two or more past violations, the crime is a first-degree misdemeanor.

If any of these acts are performed knowingly in front of a minor, it can result in higher charges. Detailed explanations for how acts of public indecency are charged can be found in Ohio Revised Code 2907.09.


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Penalties for Public Indecency in Franklin County

The charges for public indecency depend on factors like which act of public indecency an individual allegedly committed and who was present at the time. Charges could range from a fourth-degree misdemeanor to a fifth-degree felony, and the penalties are as follows:

  • Fourth-degree misdemeanor: up to 30 days in jail and/or up to a $250 fine
  • Third-degree misdemeanor: up to 60 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500
  • Second-degree misdemeanor: up to 90 days in jail and/or a potential fine of $750
  • First-degree misdemeanor: up to 180 days in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine
  • Fifth-degree felony: between six to 12 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500

It is important to note that if the offense occurred in the presence of a minor, the defendant could face increased penalties if convicted.


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Defenses Against Public Indecency in Ohio

Prosecutors must provide the court with evidence that proves the above elements of public indecency beyond all reasonable doubt. This standard of proof holds the prosecution to a higher threshold than that used in civil matters because the defendant’s liberty is at stake.

The standard of proof challenges prosecutors beyond the lesser standard of “clear and compelling evidence,” which requires only that evidence presented at trial is more highly probable to be true than not. Instead, the prosecutors’ evidence must convince a jury that there is no other reasonable explanation than that the defendant committed the act of public indecency.

How the Elements of the Offense Come Into Play in Your Defense

Considering Ohio’s definition of public indecency, the prosecution must prove the following beyond all reasonable doubt:

  • You acted “recklessly” or “knowingly.”
  • The actions took place under “circumstances likely to be viewed by and offend others” who are in physical proximity.

Suppose you took reasonable care not to be seen urinating outside, or you and your partner engaged in sexual activity in a remote area. In that case, a place you chose so you would not be seen—our lawyers can argue that your act was not reckless and, therefore, not public indecency.

If someone inadvertently saw you committing this act, it cannot be described as something you did “knowingly,” also canceling out a key element of the offense.


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Additional Resources For Public Indecency in Columbus

Ohio Revised Code Section 2907.09

This section of the Ohio Revised Code presents the state’s definition of the public indecency offense. It also offers important information regarding how these offenses can be charged.

Franklin County Court of Common Pleas

Visit this website to find your case using the Case Information Online. You can search by many variables and view such details as case number, description, date of filing, and status.

Ohio Legislature Fiscal Note & Local Impact Statement

The Ohio Legislative Service Commission produced this Fiscal Note & Local Impact Statement that explores the offense of public indecency in relation to H.B. 106 of the 131st G.A. Beyond the element of “recklessness,” the bill would add to the standard of intent the concept of the defendant’s “knowingly” committing the act of public indecency.

The statement offers data from the Franklin County Municipal Court, including the number of public indecency charges (110) between 2010 and 2013. This document sheds interesting light on the financial incentives that can shape Ohio legislation of sex crimes, including indecent exposure.

Ohio Supreme Court

This website gives you all the information you need regarding how to request that your criminal record be sealed and expunged. For a sex offense, like indecent exposure, having your criminal record sealed and expunged can prove helpful after you have fulfilled the penalties and punishments ordered by the court. Expunging your record could help you find employment and housing, which otherwise could be difficult with this offense on your record.

Franklin County Prosecutor Office – Victim Witness Assistance Unit

This unit of the Franklin County, Ohio, Prosecutor’s Office helps victims and witnesses of crime to navigate the criminal justice system. This unit has several duties, including informing victims of their rights, helping them prepare Victim Impact Statements, accompanying victims to court proceedings, and providing them with applications and details for Victims of Crime Compensation.


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News About Public Indecency in Ohio

May 18, 2021

Police: Ohio Mother Facing Murder Charge After Beating Child with Furniture

NBC 4 reports that Canton Police were called to respond to a case of indecent exposure. A 24-year-old woman was naked and walking along the sidewalk. When police confronted the woman, she told them her son had been murdered at a home.

Police went to the home and found the small child unconscious and with severe head and body trauma, under a pile of furniture. The mother was arrested. She now faces a murder charge, and a 29-year-old man faces charges for obstruction of justice.

March 16, 2021

Woman Urinates in Mall Lot; Man Told to Leave After Drinking Alcohol in Dillard’s: Beachwood Police Blotter

Cleveland.com’s community news section reported that a plainclothes law enforcement officer witnessed a woman urinating in the parking lot of Beachwood Place mall. The woman was cited for indecent exposure. Because authorities had previously warned her to stay away from the mall after a theft incident, the woman received criminal trespassing charges.

February 25, 2021

How Safe Are Ohio State’s Off-Campus Neighborhoods?

Ohio State’s independent publication, The Lantern, explores crime that occurs in the surroundings of Ohio State’s off-campus University District. The article talks about the heightened level of scrutiny in the area since the city of Columbus shattered its annual homicide record in 2020.

In one incident, a student was walking home late at night and passed a man who dropped his pants and began touching his genitals in an obscene manner. The man began to follow the female student, who ran away, turned a corner, called a friend to meet her, then called Columbus Police. According to the article, Columbus Police received more than 218,000 calls from people in the off campus “cruiser” districts over the past five years.

June 4, 2020

Man Arrested and Accused of Flashing Child and Women at Stores at Lennox Town Center

10 WBNS reports that the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office arrested and charged a 63-year-old man for allegedly flashing individuals at Lennox Town Center stores. The man reportedly exposed himself to a mother and her young daughter, then proceeded to the Target and exposed himself to several women.

The man, Mark Brown, had been previously charged in 2019 for a similar incident at Half Price Books. He pleaded guilty to that charge and was put on probation. For the most recent incident, Brown could also face charges of gross sexual imposition.

August 21, 2018

Breastfeeding in Public – An Ohio-Kentucky Perspective

In this perspective, available through the Hamilton County Law Library, author Vanessa Seeger explains the various arguments surrounding the discussion of whether breastfeeding in public constitutes public indecency. Seeger compares Ohio law to Kentucky law and comments on how breastfeeding laws in both states are still being written.


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Frequently Asked Questions About Public Indecency Charges in Franklin County

Q. What Is Public Indecency in Ohio?

Ohio Revised Code Section 2907 explains that a person is guilty of public indecency when they expose their private parts or engage in sexual behavior where others who may take offense can see.

Q. What Is the Penalty for Indecent Exposure in Ohio?

The penalty for indecent exposure in Ohio depends on how the specific offense is charged. For a fourth-degree misdemeanor, you could face up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $250. A third-degree misdemeanor could land you up to 60 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. For a second-degree misdemeanor, you might spend up to 90 days in jail and face a fine of up to $750.

A first-degree misdemeanor would mean up to 180 days in jail and/or a possible fine of up to $1,000. Finally, a fifth-degree felony could result in a six- to 12-month prison sentence and a fine of up to $2,500. Many indecent exposure offenses are charged as fourth-degree misdemeanors, but charges are elevated with prior convictions and when the offense occurs in the presence of a minor.

Q. How Is Indecent Exposure Proven in Ohio?

The prosecution must prove that a person acted recklessly or knowingly when they exposed themselves and that they did so in a manner that made it likely they would be viewed by other people who would be offended by the exposure.

It is important to note that Ohio prosecutors must prove these elements beyond all reasonable doubt. This standard of proof requires showing that there is no other reasonable explanation for the evidence that prosecutors present than that the defendant is guilty of public indecency.

Q. Can You Be Charged With Indecent Exposure in Your Own Home in Ohio?

Yes, it is possible to receive public indecency charges in your home in Ohio. If a person exposed themselves at the front door or in an open window, allowing someone other than a family member to see them and take offense, they could be charged with public indecency.

Q. How Serious Is Indecent Exposure?

Public indecency can be charged as a fourth-degree misdemeanor, a fifth-degree felony, and every possible classification in between. The charge depends on whether you have one or more prior convictions for this offense and whether your exposure was seen by a minor.

Within this scope, a conviction could result in a maximum of six to 12 months in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. The collateral consequences of a sex crime could involve having to register as a sex offender and loss of other civil rights.


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Columbus Public Indecency Defense Lawyers

If you have been charged with public indecency, Joslyn Law Firm will work to help you out of a difficult situation. Brian Joslyn is a dedicated criminal defense lawyer who will do everything in his power to ensure that you are provided with the defense you deserve.

We provide quality defense options for those living in and around the cities of Delaware, Powell, Columbus, Dublin, Westerville, Upper Arlington, Gahanna, Grove City, New Albany, Minerva Park, London, West Jefferson, Newark, Pataskala, and Lancaster.

Call Joslyn Law Firm today at (614) 444-1900 for a free consultation.


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  • Brian Joslyn was named Best Lawyer in 2019 by Birdeye.
  • Columbus CEO magazine has yearly selections for the best attorneys in Columbus Ohio. Brian Joslyn has been identified as one of the most highly skilled attorneys across central Ohio.
  • Brian Joslyn has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer LegionLawyer Legion
  • Preeminent Attorney Award. Peer rated for highest level of professional exellence.
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a private, nonprofit organization whose self-described mission is to focus on advancing marketplace trust.

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