Sex crimes are taken very seriously and a conviction has the potential to bring significant penalties. If you’ve been accused of any type of sex crime, contact a criminal defense attorney serving Columbus right away. One type of sex crime you may be charged with under Ohio criminal law is public indecency. Your defense attorney can help you understand this particular charge and the penalties that may result from a conviction.
Ohio criminal law provides for two types of public indecency violations.
The first involves recklessly engaging in acts of public indecency under circumstances in which the act is likely to be witnessed and offensive to others who are nearby. It’s important to note that these witnesses must not be members of the defendant’s household. These acts include the exposure of genitalia, masturbation, sexual conduct, or any conduct that an observer might perceive as being masturbation or sexual conduct. This means that manipulation or handling of genitalia can be interpreted as masturbation.
The second type of public indecency violation in Ohio occurs when a defendant is accused of knowingly or intentionally participating in certain acts. To be charged with sex crimes, that person’s conduct must be likely to be viewed by an individual who is a minor or who is not the spouse of the offender. These acts include masturbation, sexual conduct, or conduct that might appear to constitute these acts. It also includes the exposure of the genitalia for the purpose of arousal and gratification, or for the purpose of luring a minor into a sexual act.
Depending on the specific circumstances, an offender accused of public indecency in Ohio may be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. The court will also consider whether the offender had prior convictions of sex crimes. Generally, a fourth-degree misdemeanor can result in a sentence of up to 30 days, while a first-degree misdemeanor may result in a maximum sentence of 180 days. The court can also impose fines.
If the offender has previous public indecency convictions or the act involved a minor, his or her defense attorney will likely need to defend that person from a fifth-degree felony charge. Conviction of a fifth-degree felony involves a jail term of six to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500.