Public indecency laws may seem like old-fashioned rules of a by-gone era, but they are very much alive and well in the 21st century. In fact, people regularly get arrested and charged with violating public indecency laws in Illinois.
Many different types of acts in public are considered indecent and illegal. It’s a law that doesn’t require a motive in order for you to be charged, either. And, under the law, it’s a serious crime that can lead to fines, jail time, and even the requirement to register as a sex offender.
Here’s what you need to know about public indecency in Illinois, including what it is, what acts violate the law, and the penalties you can face if convicted.
What Is Public Indecency?
Under Illinois law, someone over the age of 17 that commits the following acts can be charged with public indecency:
- Exposing parts of the body in a lewd way that intends to satisfy or arouse sexual desire
- Engaging in sexual conduct or acts of sexual penetration
You may notice that simply being nude in public is not considered public indecency, which may surprise you. The fact is that you can be charged with this crime even if fully clothed.
If you’ve violated the Illinois statute in a public place, where your actions should be reasonably expected to be viewed by others, then you can be charged.
Penalties for Public Indecency in Illinois
In Illinois, public indecency is a misdemeanor crime, but it has the distinction of being the only misdemeanor that is also considered a sex crime. For first or second offenses, it’s considered a Class A misdemeanor and can lead to these penalties:
- As many as 12 months in jail
- Fines of as much as $2,500
This crime can also be charged as a Class 4 felony if it’s the third or more violation by the perpetrator — or it was committed within 500 feet of a school when children were present on the grounds. For felony public indecency, you may be looking at as many as three years in prison and fines of as much as $25,000.
It’s worth noting that this is a crime, even as a misdemeanor, that can never be sealed or expunged from your record. If you are convicted, it stays on your criminal record for life.
Do You Have to Register as a Sex Offender?
As a sex crime, a public indecency conviction may also lead to the requirement to register as a sex offender. Once you register as a sex offender, your personal data will be available to the public; that includes your name, age, and address.
It can impact your life in a variety of ways, too. You may not be able to visit places where children are present, such as public parks or schools. Employers may not hire you, and acquiring housing can prove a challenge.
If you’re charged with public indecency, don’t brush it off as something inconsequential. It’s very serious, and it could have a dramatic and negative impact on your life going forward.
This is one of the reasons why it’s vital to understand the gravity of any public indecency charges against you, as well as your rights in the matter. Then, you can bring an experienced attorney on board to help navigate the case. They may be able to help you escape a conviction.
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.