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Phone 1300 168 676

Obscene exposure


Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

John Sutton

In NSW, obscene exposure carries a maximum penalty of 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine of 10 penalty units.

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for a charge of obscene exposure.

You can find a brief description of each of these penalties at the bottom of this page.

The consequences of a conviction can be serious depending upon what you do for a living. Some jobs require you to have no criminal convictions and a conviction for obscene exposure might jeopardise your job or make it difficult to obtain visas for overseas travel. Moreover a conviction for a sexual offence can completely rule out certain career paths such as teaching and a range of government employment options. It some cases, a prosecution may also result in sentences that include imprisonment even where an individual has no previous convictions.

Such offences can be complicated if there are aggravating factors. It is important to get legal advice at an early stage to ascertain precisely what the consequences of a conviction may be and whether you have a defence to the charge. It is very important that you obtain legal advice before you take part in any police record of interview. Call us on 1300 168 315 for urgent advice.


The offence of obscene exposure is contained in section 5 of the Summary Offences Act 1988. It reads as follows:

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


Yes. A criminal conviction is likely unless the Court is convinced that they should exercise their discretion not to convict you of the offence.


Generally speaking, something is obscene if it offensive, based on the contemporary standards of society.


No, it is not possible to bargain with the court that you would pay a larger fine to avoid a criminal conviction. If the court deals with you under section 10 there will be no fine, but there may be court costs.


This matter is a summary offence, meaning that it will be finalised in the Local Court


To convict you of obscene exposure, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

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

The law is not limited to exposure of genitals, and it is not necessary for the prosecution to actually prove someone saw what happened. It is merely necessary to prove that a person could have been seen.

Possible defences for Obscene Exposure:

Possible defences to a Obscene Exposure charge include but are not limited to:

Types of penalties:

Jail for an obscene exposure charge: This is the most serious penalty for an obscene exposure charge and involves full time detention in a correctional facility. Read more.

Intensive correction order for an obscene exposure charge (ICO): This option has replaced periodic detention. The court can order you to comply with a number of conditions, such as attending counselling or treatment, not consuming alcohol, complying with a curfew and performing community service. Read more.

Suspended sentence for an obscene exposure charge: This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed the jail sentence will not come into effect. A suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years. Read more.

Community service order for an obscene exposure charge (CSO): This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. In order to be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service as suitable to undertake the order. Read more.

Good behaviour bond for an obscene exposure charge: This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. The court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond. The maximum duration of a good behaviour bond is five years. Read more.

Fines for an obscene exposure charge: When deciding the amount of a fine for an obscene exposure charge the magistrate or judge should consider your financial situation and your ability to pay any fine they set. Read more.

Section 10 for an obscene exposure charge: avoiding a criminal record. Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have a criminal record. However, if we can convince the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a Section 10 dismissal instead. Read more.

where to next?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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