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North Carolina Indecent Exposure Laws

North Carolina Indecent Exposure Laws

In North Carolina, indecent exposure can happen when a person purposefully shows their private parts in a public place in front of one or more other people. "Private parts" are defined by the statute. Additionally, anyone caught exposing their genitals to a minor for sexual gratification will face even harsher penalties. Anyone caught exposing their genitals to a minor for sexual gratification will face even harsher penalties.

What is a public place? Many cases are very fact-intensive and will depend on your specific situation. North Carolina courts have found that a car in a public parking lot is a public place and a creek embankment adjacent to a backyard can also be considered "public"; they have defined a public place as any place "viewable from any location open to the view of the public at large." This means that an otherwise private residence can be considered "public" under the law if it is easy for the public to see it.

The following table highlights the main provisions of the North Carolina's indecent exposure laws.

See Sexual Assault, Sex Crimes, Sex Offenders and Sex Offenses for more information.

Code Section

North Carolina General Statutes §14-190.9

What is Prohibited

Intentionally exposing your "private parts" in a public place in front of another person.

Aggravated Indecent Exposure: Doing the same thing, but in front of a child under 16 years old and for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification.

Definition of "Private Parts"
  • Male and female genitalia;
  • Buttocks are not considered "private parts;"
  • Women's breasts are not considered "private parts," but there has been an effort to change that part of the law to be more like other states where the portion of the breast which is below the top of the areola is considered a "private part" under their indecent exposure laws.

Indecent Exposure: Class 2 misdemeanor: Up to 30 days in jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000, probation, community service.

Aggravated Indecent Exposure: Class H felony, (North Carolina has a sentencing grid that determines the sentence range for any felony offenses), fines, community service, and possible lifetime sex offender registration.

Exceptions to the Law
  • Breastfeeding (public or private)
  • Sexually oriented businesses like strip-clubs and topless bars may be permitted to allow nudity or partial nudity when it is allowed by the local government.
Aiding and Abetting Anyone who aids another person in indecent exposure or motivates another person to expose his or herself in public can also be charged with this act.

City, Township, and Campus Ordinances

In addition to a state wide ban on public indecency, there are also local ordinances that citizens must abide by. Check your local city, township, or campus rules for more information.

Charged with Violating North Carolina Indecent Exposure Laws? Get Legal Help

If you're convicted under North Carolina's indecent exposure laws, the result could be jail time and fines, in addition to damage to your name and reputation. With so much on the line, you should act in your best interests and contact a qualified criminal defense attorney in North Carolina to discuss your case and learn about your options moving forward.

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