indecent exposure

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Indecent exposure is the act of revealing one's genitals in public in a manner that is likely to offend others. Exposure is indecent under the law whenever a reasonable person would or should know that his act may be seen by others--for example, in a public place or through an open window--and that it is likely to cause affront or alarm. Indecent exposure is considered a misdemeanor in most states.

In U.S. v. Ferguson, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces laid down the elements of indecent exposure as:

“(1) That the accused exposed a certain part of the accused's body to public view in an indecent manner;

(2) That the exposure was willful and wrongful; and

(3) That, under the circumstances, the accused's conduct was to the prejudice of good order and discipline.”

[Last updated in February of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]