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The offence of obscene exposure

According to Section 5 of the Summary Offences Act 1988, the offence of obscene exposure is committed if a person obscenely exposes his or her person within view from a public place or a school.

Said provision of law does not provide the meaning of the word ‘person’ but it is taken to mean that the term applies both to men and women genitalia. ‘Person’ as used in the law is gender neutral.

Penalty - Jail for an obscene exposure charge

The penalty is a fine of $1,100 or six months imprisonment. The imposition of the penalty actually depends also on the circumstances of the case. That is why it is also possible for a convicted person to be meted out with a suspended sentence, community service order or an order to enter into a good behaviour bond.

Other possible penalties the court could give are an order to undergo counselling or a Section 10 dismissal of conviction. The court has the power to exercise its discretion in not convicting the transgressor. It would be tough if the transgressor will get a criminal record considering that a criminal record might turn off prospective employers.  

Since obscene exposure is a summary offense, the case will be finalized in the Local Court.

Test of obscenity

An exposure is considered as obscene if it offends the community standards. If the exposure is unacceptable to the standards of society then it might be obscene.

Proving the offence

The prosecution is required to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused exposed himself/herself in an obscene way which was done within sight of a public place or a school. A public place is one that is open to or used by the public. It is not required of the prosecution to prove that someone actually saw the exposure. However, it is necessary to prove that another person could have seen the exposure.

Possible defences for Obscene Exposure

If you intend to fight it out in court, one effective defence is the lack of criminal intent. There was therefore no mental element in the act of exposure. Thus, an alleged transgressor may raise the defence that the exposure was merely accidental.

Another possible defence is assailing the absence of one or all of the elements of the offence. A person charged with obscene exposure may justify that the act was not obscene.

The accused may also allege that the exposure was not done in a public place or within close proximity of a school.

There are some however who choose to plead guilty to the charge so as to avoid a hefty penalty. In this case, it would be advantageous if the transgressor has character references and shows remorse for committing the offence.  

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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