Your home is supposedly your castle – it’s the place where you can do whatever you want. It’s one of the only places that you can wander around dressed – or undressed – however you please, right?
Well, not quite.
Recently, a man has been declared wanted for being naked in his own home. However, there’s a little more to the story than that.
Chicago Man Charged with Public Indecency at Home
This Chicago man was in front of his apartment window and allegedly exposed himself specifically so that young children and their mother would see.
Now, this crime seems much more clear-cut. Should the accused have actually intended to expose himself, then it is obviously inappropriate. So, if it’s possible to commit public indecency when in your own home, then there must be a point where the legal line is crossed.
When, exactly, does being nude in your own home become public indecency in Chicago?
How Is Public Indecency Defined?
In Chicago, public indecency is considered to be “an act of … sexual conduct or a lewd exposure of the body done with intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desire of the person.” It must be done somewhere that the conduct is reasonably likely to be seen by other people.
What this means is that the act has to be done where other unwilling people can see it. In most cases, your home doesn’t qualify for this. After all, many people set up their home for maximum privacy to keep their space out of the public eye.
The problem is that home windows are easily forgotten. If your curtains are wide open, people can likely see inside. As a result, it can be argued that other people are reasonably likely to see inside your home when the curtains are open.
Public indecency is a Class A misdemeanor. That means it can lead to up to twelve months in jail and fines of up to $1000 if you’re convicted. It can also lead to probation or community service.
The Importance of Intent in Chicago Public Indecency
There’s another important factor involved in public indecency charges in Chicago: intent. The intent of someone accused is a key part of purposeful crimes. If you commit a crime by accident, then you have not actually committed a crime in many cases.
Accidentally exposing yourself through a window is not an intended act. You did not mean for it to happen. If your exposure is not done on purpose “to arouse or satisfy [your] sexual desire,” then you have not committed public indecency.
Public Indecency Defenses
There are a variety of defenses against public indecency charges. Many of them involve a lack of probable intent since this element is so difficult to prove. Because in criminal cases the defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty and guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, a lack of intent is a useful defense.
Furthermore, lack of intent defenses can be either that you lacked intent to act publicly – you thought you were in private. It can also mean that you didn’t have sexual intent. For example, public urination is unlikely to be a sexual act.
No matter what, your best option for a public indecency charge is to work with an experienced attorney. They will be able to help you put together a solid defense. They will also help you navigate the legal system more effectively.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by Avvo (2013 and 2018), SuperLawyers (2015-2020), The National Trial Lawyers, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.