Under Article 245.01 of the New York Penal Code, a person can be found guilty of the crime of indecent exposure if they appear in a public place and expose private or intimate body parts, including genitals, pubic area, buttocks or a women's breast below the top of the areola, even if there is no violence or touching. Indecent exposure in New York is considered a misdemeanor sex crime. However, if there is any contact between the offender and another person, it could be considered sexual assault, which is a felony crime. If a minor is involved as a victim of indecent exposure, the punishment is harsher. Penal Code Section 130 defines sexual contact as "any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person not married to the actor for the purpose of gratifying sexual desire of either party. It includes the touching of the actor by the victim, as well as the touching of the victim by the actor, whether directly or through clothing."
Breastfeeding and performing nude in a play, theatre or entertainment venue are excluded under the law. Nudity in strip clubs in New York is not allowed where alcohol is served. Many strip clubs have "juice bars", which permits their nude employees to be anywhere in the club. Each municipality is allowed to pass their own nudity laws regarding entertainment and the restriction of strip clubs. It is also illegal to display offensive sexual material in a public place under Penal Code Sections 245.10 and 245.11.
For a Class A misdemeanor sex crime, you may be subject to a fine not to exceed $1,000 and/or jail time. If you are a repeat or habitual offender, your sentence will be increased. Punishments for repeat offenders and felony sexual assault convictions include jail time; fines, mandatory rehab, and you may be required to register as a sex offender on the National Sex Offenders Registry.
Three people were arrested on Monday August 1, 2011, after taking off their clothes in front of the New York Stock Exchange during an art performance project involving dozens of people. The three were taken to the 1st Precinct stationhouse in Tribeca and released with a summons. The performance was organized by artist Zefrey Throwell, who gathered 50 people as part of an art event entitled "Ocularpation", where participants pretended to be traders, janitors and secretaries. Zefrey's inspiration for the performance was his 65 year old mother who lost most of her retirement savings during the Wall Street crash and has now been forced to return to work. Zefrey defended his project as an educational project about transparency that he believes Wall Street needs.
Although an arrest for indecent exposure or public indecency is considered a lesser sex crime in New York, it still should be taken seriously. It is important to hire an experienced New York criminal defense attorney to represent you. The attorney can argue that you were falsely accused or possibly that your first amendment rights to freedom of speech were violated to get the case dismissed. If you have been convicted of previous sex crimes, the attorney may be able to arrange a plea bargain, get you reduced fines and possible avoidance of having to register as a sex offender.