When people hear the words “sex offender,” it tends to automatically conjure up some dark images — but the harsh reality is that people can get tagged with a sex offender label in a myriad of ways that they might not expect.
Consider, for a moment, the charge of “indecent exposure” here in Michigan.
What’s considered indecent exposure in Michigan?
According to the Michigan Penal Code, a person is guilty of a sex offense if they “make any open or indecent exposure of his or her person or of the person of another.”
In general, the crime is a misdemeanor unless the individual not only exposes their private parts (or someone else’s) and fondles them or is already considered “sexually delinquent” due to a prior offense. Those two situations are aggravating factors that increase the potential penalties that a defendant may face.
In practical terms, here’s what that could look like:
- You’re coming home from the bar late at night, and you had too many drinks. You need to urinate. You aren’t exactly thinking clearly, so you duck down a dark alley instead of looking for a restroom. You unzip your pants and start to relieve yourself. A woman cutting through the alley on her way to a third shift somewhere sees you.
The next thing you know, you’re facing aggravated indecent exposure charges (because the witness told the police she thought you were fondling yourself), which means you could be looking at a $2,000 fine and up to two years in prison.
That’s harsh. It’s also unfair. A simple (if ill-advised) mistake and a moment of poor judgment while intoxicated shouldn’t be allowed to negatively affect your entire future. You need to immediately explore your defense options in such a situation.