Obscene exposure

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What is Obscene Exposure ?

Obscene exposure is the deliberate exposure in public or in view of the general public by a person of a portion or portions of their body, in circumstances where the exposure is contrary to local moral or other standards of appropriate behaviour.

Case law/Jurisdiction

An offence of Obscene Exposure is what is known as Summary offence which means that the matter will be finalised in the Local Court.

The nature and elements of the offence of Obscene Exposure were considered in R v Benson; Ex parte Tubby (1882) 8 VLR (L) 2 (FC) (at 5): A person may still find themselves in trouble for obscene exposure even if they are unseen, as the court in a joint judgment remarked in

“It is quite unnecessary to prove that the prisoner was actually seen by anyone on the highway when he was exposing himself; it is sufficient that he was in view and could have been seen by any person there.”

The Law

section 5 of the Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW) states:

A person shall not, in or within view from a public place or a school, wilfully and obscenely expose his or her person.

What must the prosecution prove?

Since Obscene Exposure offence is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies on the Prosecution.

The prosecution must prove each of the elements in the charge beyond reasonable doubt.

That is a high standard of proof that the prosecution must achieve before someone can be convicted of Obscene Exposure.

To establish Obscene Exposure, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt;

  • You exposed yourself in an obscene way
  • You did so within sight of the public place or a school

If you are charged with the offence of Obscene Exposure what are your options?

National Criminal Lawyers have been successful in defending numerous Obscene Exposure charges where the prosecution could not establish each of the elements of Obscene Exposure.

NCL are the best Criminal Defence Lawyers Sydney has to offer who uniquely provide the following options for those who have been charged with Obscene Exposure;

  1. We will negotiate with prosecutors (police or DPP) (a term referred to as “plea negotiations”) to request that the charge is withdrawn, downgraded or fact sheets amended;
  2. NCL will Plead Not Guilty and go to hearing/trial and persuade the Court that prosecution has not proven its case beyond reasonable doubt;
  3. Plead guilty to the elements of the charge and then dispute the facts (at a special “disputed facts” hearing) with the view of having you sentenced less harshly; and/or
  4. Plead guilty with full acceptance of the facts as set out by the police and make strong submissions on your behalf requesting that the Court not record a criminal conviction.

Pleading Guilty

If you agree that you have committed the offence and the police are able to prove all the elements of the offence, it is best to plead guilty at an early opportunity to receive the maximum discount. Currently the maximum discount available for an early plea of guilty is 25% of the sentence.

Furthermore, the early guilty plea shows the Court that you have remorse and contrition for your actions.

Our Lawyers at National Criminal Lawyers work closely with you to ensure that we obtain all necessary paper work at increasing the chances of obtaining a non-conviction or section 10.

Maximum Penalties

For Obscene Exposure offenders the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 6 months or fine $1100, or both.

Please note these penalties are reserved for the worst kind of offending and are unlikely to be what you would receive.

Pleading Not Guilty

If you decide to plead not guilty you will need to prepare to go to a Defended Hearing.

A defended hearing is where all the witnesses of that case are called to give evidence. The witnesses are both examined by the prosecution and tested by your defence lawyers.

National Criminal Lawyers have defended thousands of people charged with Obscene Exposure and are experts at these hearings.


Some of the possible defences available for those charged with Obscene Exposure can include;

  • If you were compelled to act in a certain way due to the circumstances, or the threats of another you may be able to argue “Duress”; or
  • If your actions were necessary to prevent a greater harm from occurring, you may have the defence of “Necessity”.


The Courts are not bound by statistics however there must be reasonable consistency in sentences. A Magistrate or Judge should have regard to what has been done in other cases. In Green [2011] HCA 45, the plurity judgement of French CJ, Kiefel and Creennan JJ stated:

“Equal Justice” embodies the norm expressed in the terms “equality before the law”. It is an aspect of the rule of law.

For Obscene Exposure 43% of offenders received a fine, whereas 31% received a s9 good behaviour bond

Possible Penalty's

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for a Obscene Exposure charge.

  • Prison sentence;
  • Home Detention;
  • Intensive correction order (previously periodic detention);
  • Suspended sentence;
  • Community service order (CSO);
  • Good behaviour bond;
  • Fine; and/or
  • Section 10.

However, from the 24 September 2018 new penalty’s will be replacing the above. They are as follows:

  • Full time Imprisonment;
  • New ICO (ICO) with a home detention condition available;
  • New Community Correction Order (CCO);
  • Fine and/or
  • New Conditional release Order (CRO)

Case Studies

A witness alleged that she had observed our client exposing and fondling his penis. It was late at night and the witness was walking to her car following an attendance at a social gathering. The police were called, and the client was then charged with Obscene Exposure.

Our client denied the allegations and defended the matter by asserting that the witness was mistaken and that he had, in fact, been texting on his mobile phone.

In court the Magistrate found that there were clear discrepancies between the witnesses’ versions of events and the CCTV footage. In contrast, the Magistrate found that the CCTV footage corroborated our client’s version of events. The character evidence provided in support of the client was also useful and certainly added to the reliability of our client’s testimony.

All the charges were dismissed and our client was found not guilty of Obscene Exposure

Why National Criminal Lawyers?

There are three reasons to choose National Criminal Lawyers:

1. We get the results

We are the experts in either beating or having criminal charges withdrawn AND/OR obtaining the least restrictive penalty available. This is because no matter which option you choose within our tailored Options at Law you will be dealing with experienced criminal lawyers who can make sure the evidence is not only obtained properly but also that your case is prepared and presented to the highest best practice standards possible. This is also done without breaking your pocket.

2. We give a Senior Defence Lawyer guarantee

No matter which option at law you choose, National Criminal Lawyers can guarantee that a Senior Defence Lawyer will represent you. This means that with our over 25 years of Combined criminal law experience you will get the best result possible.

3. National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights

At National Criminal Lawyers we know that Criminal Law is a matter of Human Rights. For this reason, we take pride and passion in representing our clients. This pride and passion to assist those charged with an alleged or actual breach of the criminal law is to us a matter of righteous necessity and in that sense, you can always rest assured that National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights. This true not only when the police have just simply got it wrong OR if they have got it right then we can speak with you and make sure you get you the best result available.

If you have been charged with any Obscene Exposure offence our Team at National Criminal Lawyers are well versed and specialists in having charges either withdrawn and otherwise achieving favourable outcomes.

Please contact our office on 02 9893 1889 or visit www.nationalcriminallawyers.com.au for more information about your options.

Book your first free appointment with National Criminal lawyers now.
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