‘Clothing optional’ places exist at certain gatherings and places (such as Burning Seed – a version of Burning man) and at other places, including but not limited to, certain beaches, rainbow gatherings and at selective nature reserves. Public nudity is otherwise an offence at law especially when it is done outside of the designated areas. The offence related to illegal public nudity is usually known as 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.


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, willfully and obscenely expose his or her person”. 


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 as follows:

“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.”


Since obscene exposure is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies on the prosecution. The prosecution must prove each of the following elements beyond reasonable doubt.

That :

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


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”.

For a list of all defences please visit our dedicated defences pages 


National Criminal Lawyers only employ the best Criminal Lawyers Sydney has to offer. Moreover, we have been successful in defending a number of obscene exposure charges where the prosecution could not establish each of the elements of obscene exposure.


National Criminal Lawyers offer the following options for those who have been charged with a 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. We can on your instructions facilitate a plea of Not Guilty and go to hearing/trial and attempt to persuade the Court that prosecution has not proven its case beyond reasonable doubt;
  3. We can on your instructions facilitate a plea of 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 or have you sentenced to the least restrictive penalty available.



There are many reasons to choose National Criminal Lawyers:


  1. We understand that one of the worst consequences of a criminal charge is the damage to your reputation. As one of the top law firms Sydney has on offer we ALWAYS seek to restore your reputation;
  2. Our clients Testimonials are glowing, and our Sydney Criminal Lawyers  are always achieving positive reviews . For consideration of these testimonials  and/or check out our google reviews;
  3. We always guide you through the preparation work required and assist in helping you provide everything needed to go to court.
  4. We always guide you through obtaining the best of character references and letters of apology. We also use the best psychologists, medical and other experts;
  5. We guarantee that a Senior Criminal Defence Lawyer from Sydney will represent you. This means that with our over 25 years of Combined criminal law experience you will get the best result possible and will not be subjected to a Junior or recently graduated Lawyer;
  6. We are the experts in either beating or having criminal charges withdrawn AND/OR obtaining the least restrictive penalty available; and
  7. We know that Criminal Law is a matter of Human Rights. As such we take pride and passion in representing our clients. You can always rest assured that National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights


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