Texas summers get brutal, with temperatures regularly soaring above 100 degrees…sometimes by the end of June. Most people beat the heat by living in the water. Otherwise, don’t be surprised to find Texans wearing as little as possible from late April on through September.
At the same time, as independent-minded as Texans can be, the law is strict about the minimum amount you can get away with wearing.
No matter how hot it gets, you’re expected to stay at least somewhat clothed in public. Otherwise, you might be accused of committing a sex crime.
Indecent Exposure in Texas
Going clothes-free in public is a quick way to get slapped with an indecent exposure charge. Adults simply walking around nude in Texas are considered to be committing indecent exposure in most cases.
Texas law says the crime consists of exposing any part of one’s genitals or anus to another in order to arouse them. The person must also be reckless regarding whether anyone else is around who might not appreciate the view.
Without Intent, It’s Not “Indecent”
The intent to arouse is an integral part of the crime of indecent exposure. If the exposure is not intended to arouse someone, then it’s not considered indecent.
That means simply urinating in public is likely not indecent exposure (although it could result in other charges like lude behavior). Jumping into Joe Pool Lake totally naked, however, may well land you with an indecent exposure charge.
Texas Topless Laws
Another important aspect to proving an indecent exposure case — the law in Texas only applies to genitalia. What is not specifically listed in the statute is the female breast. Thus, going topless in Texas as a woman is a grey area. It certainly isn’t indecent exposure, but it may be considered disorderly conduct. While there are no laws against going topless, it still can result in an arrest.
Breastfeeding Mothers Are Explicitly Protected in Texas
In contrast, breastfeeding is explicitly legal in the state. The Texas Health and Safety code says women may breastfeed anywhere that the woman is legally allowed to be. That means that it is illegal for anyone to ask a woman to leave a place for feeding her baby.
Restaurants, parks, and stores must allow women to breastfeed there as long as the woman would otherwise be allowed to stay.
Texas Does Have Opportunities for the Clothing-Optional
Of course, Texas takes its freedom seriously. That means that there are plenty of places to go where you aren’t expected to dress up – or at all even. Texas has nine resorts and one public park where clothing is not required.
These facilities specifically explain that there will be many nude people around. Because of this, guests are not being reckless about who might see them. No one on the property will be “shocked or offended” by other nude people.
Regardless of anyone’s intent to arouse others, without the aspect of recklessness, it isn’t considered indecent exposure.
Penalties for Indecent Exposure in Texas
If you are charged, a conviction for indecent exposure is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas. That can result in fines up to $2,000 and 180 days in jail for the first offense.
Get busted again, though, and you can plan on registering as a sex offender for a minimum of 10 years. That can affect where you live, what jobs you can do, and where you can go.
The legal system is confusing enough; don’t let some time spent au natural ruin the rest of your life. Getting an experienced Texas defense attorney should be the first step in your indecent exposure case. They’ll help you argue your case and work to make sure the result is in your favor.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.