Nevada "Indecent or Obscene Exposure" Laws (NRS 201.220)
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys

It is criminal in Nevada for people to expose their private parts. Not only does this offense carry high fines and possible prison ... the defendants may have to register as a sex offender for life.

This article summarizes the Nevada crime of indecent exposure. Continue reading to learn the definition, defenses, and penalties.

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Definition

It is a crime in Nevada for a person to make "any open and indecent or obscene exposure of his/her person, or of another person."1 This typically refers to exposure of genitalia, backside, or a woman's breasts. Henderson criminal defense attorney Michael Becker gives an example:

Example: Tom joins his friends for a bachelor party in Green Valley Ranch Casino. After getting drunk, Tom and a girl from the bar go to the bathroom and have sex in the stall. If caught, both Tom and the girl could be booked at the Henderson Detention Center for indecent exposure.

In the above example it does not matter that Tom was drunk and that he and the girl were shielded by the stall. Intentionally exposing your private parts for any reason qualifies as indecent exposure whether or not someone witnesses it.

Most NRS 201.220 cases involve flashers, exhibitionists, or people engaged in sexual activity in public. Most defendants are partiers, patrons of adult bookstores, or people hooking up in parks or bathrooms. Note that a person does not have to be in public to be convicted of indecent exposure. North Las Vegas defense attorney Mike Castillo explains.

Example: John is walking around without clothes in his Reno home, where the shutters to the windows are all open. If caught, Tom could be booked at the Washoe Detention Facility for indecent exposure.

it is irrelevant in the above example that John is in the comfort of his own home. By walking around unclothed in front of open windows where others could see him, he could be convicted for indecent exposure.

Note that it is not considered indecent or obscene exposure in Nevada for a mother to breast-feed her child. For more information about Nevada breastfeeding laws, see our article on Nevada breastfeeding laws.

Sex Offender Registration

Because indecent exposure is considered a sex offense, defendants convicted of it may be ordered to register as a sex offender in Nevada. Obviously being a sex offender greatly hinders the person's ability to get a job, and it is an enormous social stigma.

Not all people convicted of indecent exposure are ordered to register as sex offenders ... defendants who expose themselves to kids are more likely to be ordered to register. And not all sex offenders are publicly "searchable ... those deemed to have a low risk of re-offending may not show up in a sex offender search. Learn more about Nevada Sex Offender Registry laws

Indecent Exposure v. Open or Gross Lewdness

Depending on the case, charges of indecent exposure are often prosecuted in conjunction with charges of the Nevada crime of open or gross lewdness. Open and gross lewdness is similar to indecent exposure, but it also constitutes performing sexual acts in public or in a context that would offend others.

Defenses

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An effective defense to Nevada charges of indecent exposure is that there is insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction. In every criminal case the prosecutor bears the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a very tough standard to meet ...

If the D.A. introduces eyewitnesses as evidence in an indecent exposure trial, the defense can question their credibility on cross-examination. Perhaps the witness misidentified the defendant. Or perhaps the witness falsely accused the defendant to get him/her into trouble.

And if the D.A. introduces surveillance video, the defense may be able to persuade the court to disregard it ... this is done by filing a "motion to suppress" in Nevada which argues that the cops found the evidence through an unlawful search.

Penalties

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The punishment for committing the Nevada offense of indecent exposure depends on whether the defendant has any past convictions for indecent exposure:

A first offense of indecent exposure is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada. The sentence includes:

  • up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines, and
  • possible sex offender registration

A subsequent offense of indecent exposure is a category D felony in Nevada. The sentence carries:

  • one to four years in Nevada State Prison (with a possible fine of up to $5,000), and
  • possible sex offender registration

Note that judges do take extenuating circumstances into account when doling out punishments. For example, a person who strips in a public place would probably receive a harsher punishment than someone who walks naked in front of an open window in his home without realizing it.

Open or Gross Lewdness

The punishments for a Nevada violation of open and gross lewdness are the same as those for indecent exposure:

A first offense of open or gross lewdness is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying a sentence of:

  • up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines, and
  • possible sex offender registration

A subsequent offense of open or gross lewdness is a category D felony in Nevada, carrying a sentence of:

  • one to four years in Nevada State Prison (with a possible fine of up to $5,000), and
  • possible sex offender registration

Plea bargains

Depending on the case, the prosecutor may be willing to reduce the charges to a non-sex offense as part of a plea bargain. A typical reduced charge is the Nevada offense of breach of peace which is only a misdemeanor in Nevada. The sentence includes:

  • up to six months in jail, and/or
  • up to $1,000 in fines

In many cases, the judge will impose only fines or community service and no incarceration.

Charged? Call . . . .

If you have been accused of violating Nevada "indecent exposure" law under NRS 201.220, call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). We will do everything we can to try to get the charges thrown out or lessened to keep the matter off your criminal record and to keep you off the sex offender registry.

To learn more see our articles on Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys, misdemeanor in Nevada, gross misdemeanor in Nevada, category D felony in Nevada, Nevada crime of breach of peace, Henderson criminal defense attorney, North Las Vegas criminal defense attorney, Nevada sexual harassment laws, Nevada sexual harassment laws, Henderson detention center, Nevada crime of open or gross lewdness, Washoe Detention Facility, Nevada Sex Offender Registry laws, and motion to suppress evidence in Nevada. For information about California indecent exposure law, go to our article on California indecent exposure law.

Legal References:

1 NRS 201.220  Indecent or obscene exposure; penalty.

1.  A person who makes any open and indecent or obscene exposure of his or her person, or of the person of another, is guilty:

(a) For the first offense, of a gross misdemeanor.

(b) For any subsequent offense, of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130.

2.  For the purposes of this section, the breast feeding of a child by the mother of the child does not constitute an act of open and indecent or obscene exposure of her body.

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