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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 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’.
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.
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.
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.