Table of Contents

Offence of Public Indecency In NSW

Offence of Public Indecency In NSW

Public indecency is a matter of legal concern that impacts individuals from all walks of life. Here we take a close look at public indecency, or in NSW known as obscene exposure, its legal implications in New South Wales, and what both defendants and the public should be aware of. Accordingly, is public indecency a crime in NSW? In short, the answer is yes and the appropriate offence is obscene exposure.

Public Indecency Meaning

Public indecency encompasses a wide range of behaviours that are considered lewd or improper when conducted in a location visible to the public or a specific group of people. This may include acts like indecent exposure or engaging in explicit conduct in a public place or near a school.


In addition, in NSW, the courts have interpreted the phrase ‘wilfully and obscenely expose his or her person’ in Section 5 to specifically pertain to the exposure of the genital area, whether of a male or female individual. Therefore, exposure pertains to the revelation of genitalia in a public setting. This encompasses actions like exhibitionism or public nudity, without necessitating the engagement in a sexual act.

Engaging in an indecent act in public is indeed a criminal offence in New South Wales. This legal framework is in place to uphold community standards and preserve public morality. Individuals found guilty of public indecency may face criminal convictions, which can have lasting consequences.


Elements Required for Prosecution


To secure a conviction in a public indecency case, the prosecution must prove several elements. This includes demonstrating that the act was committed in a public place or within view of the public, that it involved an indecent act, and that it was done with the intent to offend or distress others.


In New South Wales, public indecency is covered under Section 5 of the Summary Offences Act 1988. This section outlines the offence and the potential penalties upon conviction. It’s essential for both defendants and legal representatives to have a comprehensive understanding of this legislation.


Section 5 of the Summary Offences Act 1988 (referred to as “the Act”) outlines a maximum penalty of six months of imprisonment and/or a fine of $1,100 for individuals who, ‘in or within sight of a public place or school, intentionally and indecently expose their person’.


  • In order to establish this offence, the prosecution must convincingly demonstrate that the defendant:
  • Was either in or within view of a public place or school.
  • Indecently exposed themselves in an offensive manner.
  • Did so with intent.

Potential Penalties and Available Defences


If convicted of public indecency or obscene exposure, penalties can range from fines and criminal convictions to CRO, CCO with community service work, ICO or even imprisonment. It’s important to note that there are potential defences to a charge of public indecency.


Apart from establishing each element of the offense beyond reasonable doubt, the prosecution is also obligated to refute any legitimate defences presented. These defences might encompass situations such as duress, necessity, and self-defence, contingent on the specific circumstances surrounding the alleged wrongdoing.


Understanding Obscene Exposure


A common form of public indecency is indecent exposure. This involves deliberately exposing one’s genital area, or in the case of women, their breasts, in a public place or near a school. It is considered a serious offence and can lead to criminal charges.


Legal Proceedings


Obscene exposure cases are finalised in the Local Court of NSW depending on the severity of the offence. The charge and legal process will start in the Local Court and finalise in the Local Court of NSW.

Sexual Assault Lawyer In Sydney

Send An Online Enquiry

“Thank you Lyons Law Group on providing me an exceptional service delivered with care, compassion and a high level of professionalism. The outcome was more than what I had expected. A true reflection of your legal expertise and experience. Thank you Mohammad and team.”
Layalle Itaoui

Legal Advice By Our Criminal Lawyers

The definition of what constitutes an “indecent act” and obscene exposure may vary based on community standards. Addressing a charge of public indecency and obscene exposure in New South Wales requires navigating a complex legal process. Seeking legal advice early in the process is crucial to building a strong defence and ensuring a fair outcome. By understanding the legal intricacies and potential defences surrounding public indecency, individuals can work towards the best possible resolution for their case.


If you have been charged with obscene exposure offence in NSW, contact our sexual assault lawyer in Sydney. Our criminal defence lawyers can provide you with free legal advice for up to 15 minutes over the phone and review you case.

Our Recent Articles

What Our Clients Say About Us

Rezaul karim RanaRezaul karim Rana
01:47 03 Dec 23
MD. Ramim HassanMD. Ramim Hassan
09:27 30 Nov 23
hridoy hasan pipluhridoy hasan piplu
04:36 29 Nov 23
PM. ParvejPM. Parvej
04:49 27 Nov 23
03:55 26 Nov 23
Md Ismaile hossenMd Ismaile hossen
10:46 25 Nov 23
MD SohelMD Sohel
10:33 25 Nov 23
Sheikh SajibSheikh Sajib
10:12 23 Nov 23
Your MotherYour Mother
07:13 20 Nov 23
02:22 23 Oct 23
"Absolutely fantastic lawyer! Enis Erdem is a true professional who handles cases with skill, dedication, and genuine concern for their clients. He kept me informed throughout the entire process, making sure I understood every step. Enis Erdem is not only knowledgeable but also empathetic, which made a stressful legal situation much more manageable. I can't thank him enough for their outstanding work!"Highly recommended
Bahaddin DibBahaddin Dib
04:59 10 Oct 23
I had Mr khan who is the principal solicitor represent me today, Mr khan fought for me all the way and got me the best result possible. I would highly recommend him for all your law matters and can confidently say that he strives his best for his clients.
Mash HasanMash Hasan
00:38 21 Sep 23
Thank you so much. Great team of criminal defence lawyers.
Joanna StobinskiJoanna Stobinski
02:18 03 Sep 23
I found Lyons Law to be pro-active and easy to work with when dealing with the recent court case of my son.
Joseph BorgJoseph Borg
22:50 02 Aug 23
Mohammad and the team at the Lyons Law Group are a great to work with, they are polite and go above and beyond to help. We are very happy with the assistance they provided our family. I'd highly recommend the team at Lyons Law Group!
Shofiul AzamShofiul Azam
03:32 19 Jul 23
Mr Khan has extensive knowledge of the law and I am very much delighted about his service.
Julie NJulie N
07:12 11 Jul 23
Mohamad and Hijran are professional and straight to the point team. Highly recommended.
samdani gsamdani g
05:35 22 Jun 23
Very friendly and hard working
Mohammad and his time are the greatest criminal lawyers I have dealt with, they are extremely professional and can assist with any cases, big or small.
DR BernoussiDR Bernoussi
04:16 07 Mar 23
Mr Khan was so polite and helpful in directing me to the best possible outcome for my situation. The amount of support and knowledge they offered me was next to none. I didn’t feel like I was being mislead or looked at like a piggy bank. Mr khan and his team have your best interest into getting the best outcome. Pleasure guys kind regards Dr bernoussi
Natasha SusmanNatasha Susman
09:20 26 Jan 23
Lyons Law Group is honestly outstanding ! Hijran especially, not only is she so professional but she does her best and always is there to answer all questions with such understanding. Hijran honestly goes above and beyond and I'll forever be grateful. I highly recommend Lyons Group.
steve .H.steve .H.
16:59 26 Dec 22
A big thank you to Lyons law group, very professional. Mohammad was exceptionally well and handled my case amazing as well as Hijran!!! They really care about your case, I highly recommend this company!
Norris “Chuck” LuNorris “Chuck” Lu
04:15 30 Nov 22
I cannot express my gratitude to the Lyons law team with a big special mention to Mohammad. Having spent the last few years enduring and coping with the most difficult and stressful situation of me and my family's life.I have been using Mohammad and the team at Lyons Law from day one. They guided us through each difficult process in the most professional manner with full transparency, care and compassion.Through each difficult process up to the very last moment they only delivered results that exceeded every and anything we could have expected. Every outcome was exactly as planned and in turn got amazing results.So once again I cannot recommend Mohammad and the team at Lyons law enough. So like I and my Family did, have confidence that Lyons law will always strive for and deliver the best possible outcome.
Omar MOmar M
01:31 16 Nov 22
A BIG thank you to Lyons Law Group with helping me achieve the best outcome for my case. From day one they were very professional, straight to the point and very easy to communicate with, keeping me updated and informed with everything I needed to know. Honestly, exceptional service and support.Thank you once again to Mohammad & Team.
Edward HindsEdward Hinds
05:59 07 Nov 22
Lyons Law Group is amazing. They are very professional, sympathetic, and helpful. I was kept informed during every step. The level of support was second to none. Mohammad went above and beyond and updated me regularly. Hijram too was amazing. Her calls and court representation made me feel at ease. This was a great experience. I cannot recommend Lyons Law Group enough. My gratitude extends to all involved in the handling of my case.