Indecent Exposure

Indecent Act and Indecent Exposure

Toronto indecent exposure crimes lawyer

Indecent acts and indecent exposure are covered under section 173 of the Criminal Code of Canada although not often seen in the courts of this Province, are nevertheless serious allegations that can minimally result in the imposition of consequences which can greatly impair one`s ability to seek or maintain employment, in the event a criminal record is obtained.

Indictable or Summary Offence?

A charge of committing an indecent act covers more than one specific action and is one of many acts known as a hybrid offence. This means that depending on what the police say happened, the Crown Attorney can decide whether to prosecute the offence as an indictable offence (more serious), or as a summary offence (less serious). Since the seriousness of the charges against the accused can vary, it is very important to get proper legal advice before speaking to police or going to court. Click here for your free consultation with a lawyer.


Penalties For Indecent Act or Indecent Exposure Charges

Simply put, there are two main acts that can result in an indecent act or indecent exposure charge being pursued. The first involves committing an indecent act in a public place in the presence of one or more persons, or any place with the intent to offend or assault another person. This type of act can carry a maximum penalty ranging from six (6) months to two (2) years depending on how the Crown proceeds with the case.

The second act involves exposing one’s genitals for a sexual purpose to a person under the age of sixteen years. This type of act is treated very seriously and carries a mandatory minimum of thirty (30) days of imprisonment for even the most minor cases. In more serious cases, an accused can be facing up to two years of imprisonment.

The social and legal consequences of potentially being convicted of indecent act or indecent exposure can weigh heavily on an accused. A person convicted of indecent exposure will be labeled a sex offender and will be placed on Sex Offender Registry. In certain circumstances, a person convicted of indecent act may be also be labeled a sex offender, too. This is why having a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defence lawyer on your side is so important.

The role of your Criminal Defence Lawyer

The role of your Criminal Defence Lawyer can be to challenge whether what is alleged meets the legal definition set out in the Criminal Code. For example, a lawyer could highlight that there was only one other individual who witnessed the act and that this was not at all reasonably foreseeable, or that the alleged victim might have approved of, or in some way participated in the act.

In preparation for trial, the criminal lawyer may well challenge whether or not the location where the alleged criminal conduct took place is in fact a “public place.” Generally speaking, the Prosecution must satisfy this requirement by proving that the location is one to which the public has access. However, this is always open to interpretation and argument and also is very much wrapped up in the issue of intent.

Was The Indecent Exposure Intentional?

For example, what if an accused person was found to be committing a sexual act in a car parked in a remote part of a community park late at night? Although this might otherwise be considered an area the public has access to, it is open to the defence lawyer to argue that the intent component of the charge has not been made out. Clearly, the accused person cannot be said to have intended his conduct to be observed by others.

In addition, even when the act complained of unquestionably occurs in a public place, your lawyer might argue that the behaviour itself may have a sexual component, but not be considered indecent. One of the most famous examples of this was a case where a woman was charged after appearing in public with her breasts exposed. Her case resulted in women now having the right to go topless in public, just as men are able.

At the Criminal Law Team we have successfully argued that the act in question did not offend the community standards of tolerance, which is a requirement for a conviction for these offences. Where possible, your criminal defence lawyer will strive for a similar result in your case.

Have You Been Charged With Indecent Exposure?

The Criminal Law Team has successfully defended indecent act cases by obtaining for the client a risk assessment from a psychiatrist to convince the crown attorney the client is not a significant risk to re-offend.

In one such recent case, The Criminal Law Team obtained a withdrawal of the client’s charge of indecent act (masturbating in a parking lot) by obtaining a court-ordered assessment that determined the client was a low risk to re-offend, due in part to the fact that he was attending counseling sessions arranged by us. We were also successful in obtaining the destruction of the client’s fingerprints and photographs from the police department’s database.

Just click on the button below to give us a call today for your free case evaluation.


Perhaps it goes without saying, but needs to be said in any case, that the preparation and hard work by competent and experienced criminal defence lawyers can often be the difference between being found guilty or not guilty of any offence. We also feel that you must be comfortable in the knowledge that your lawyer is someone you can relate to, and is committed to your cause throughout the whole court process. This is our mission at The Criminal Law Team. Click here to see what our clients are saying about us. We can help you too!

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