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Does Nudity Qualify as Indecent Exposure?

Does Nudity Qualify as Indecent Exposure?

Indecent exposure is a broad term that you hear quite a bit. It is fairly vague, and recently it got just a little clearer. A recent case has brought attention to indecent exposure laws and what they mean.

We all know the ramifications can include sex offender registry, but we don’t all know what the charge entails. As this case shows, attorneys don’t know a lot more than the public does. However, the case is looking to offer a little clarification; bringing us a little closer to a law that makes more sense.

State V. Legassie

In December of 2013, Legassie added the first of five victims on Facebook. He was twenty-one years old, while the girls ranged from fourteen to seventeen years of age. Lagassie then chatted and sent them all nude photos, through the messenger. You can read more about the case here.

The prosecution charged him with indecent exposure and some other sexually based offenses. The depth of the case stands on the worry that it will open the door for future cases. Whether this constitutes indecent exposure or not could have ramifications for the public later on.


While many associate nudity with obscenity, they are necessarily synonymous. There are many ways that a person can exhibit nudity within the limits of the law. The fear was that associating nudity with indecent exposure would lead to more people who serve time for sex crimes because they were just sharing pictures. This would leave people who are in a relationship and share photos open to charges after a bad breakup.

Indecent Exposure

Indecent exposure is when someone is exposing themselves with the intent of being seen in a public place or from another public place. These cases take a stand on those who would expose themselves to people on subways, in parks or near schools. But, they can also be used to label people as sex offenders, when they shouldn’t be. This can be true for anyone who has been drunk one night and pulled over to use the bathroom in public, not knowing where to find a restroom.

The Line Drawn

The conclusion of the case of State V. Legassie was that sending nude photos is not indecent exposure. This is because the nudity does not take place in public, but via messages which are private. The origins of the statutes that comprise the indecent exposure laws have roots in the language that state public exposure. They even go so far as to stipulate that public disapproval must ensue.

The laws evolve from there and become what they are today. As such, the line is drawn that because messages are private; these laws do not apply. The images were sent via messenger, from one person to another and not in public or even a group. Because there was no physical exposure in public and there were only two people involved in each incident, indecent exposure doesn’t apply.

The Consequences

Facing charges for indecent exposure is not something to take lightly. While the jail time and fines might not be as bad as some crimes, there is another side to it. Indecent exposure is considered a sexually based offense and will mean that you are one sex offender of many in the database. This is a label that will stick with you for the rest of your life. It is one that you can never shake and is all to easy to see. Any employer who wants to know more about you, any neighbor who wants to know more about you, even people you date or in your family will know. It is a label that makes people see you negatively and can have a vast impact on your life. It is a charge that you don’t want to the conviction for, though most are.

Finding yourself facing indecent exposure charges isn’t necessarily the end of the world. It can mean that you are facing charges for a crime you haven’t committed or a charge that doesn’t apply to you. These are things that you need to talk to a lawyer about. You want to make sure that you consult a professional in this field so that you can get some clear answers.

While you are able to represent yourself, it isn’t a risk you want to take. Especially in a case with consequences like these. Your future hangs in the balance, don’t take it lightly. You will need a lawyer who has seen a million cases like yours and knows how it will play out. They need a keen understanding of the law and its details. You can’t trust your life to just anyone. You’re bound to have a lot of questions so it’s to rely on an experienced Rhode Island Indecent Exposure Lawyer.