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Obscene Exposure (Vic)

In Victoria, obscene exposure carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment. A person will be found guilty of obscene exposure under section 19 of the Summary Offences Act 1966 if they wilfully and obscenely expose the genital area of their body in front of or within the view of a public place.

What Constitutes a Public Place?

What constitutes a public place is widely defined in section 3 of the Summary Offences Act 1966 and includes any open place the public can access, regardless of whether a payment is required. This includes:

  • Parks
  • Government schools
  • Licensed venues such as pubs, clubs and sporting venues
  • Cricket or football grounds
  • Roads
  • Markets
  • Train stations and train carriages
  • Churches

What the Police Must Prove

To find a person guilty of obscene exposure, the police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • They exposed the genital area of their body
  • They did so wilfully and obscenely
  • They did so in a public place or within view of a public place.

What is Obscene Exposure?

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

Which Court Will Hear the Matter?

The offence of Obscene Exposure is a summary offence, meaning that it can only be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court.

Diversion for Sexual Exposure – Case Study

Our client was charged with sexual exposure with Victoria Police alleging that he had intentionally exposed himself to a female unknown to him at the time. It was alleged that our client did so while making derogatory comments toward the woman.

We attended at the Geelong Magistrates’ Court for the first court date, known as a summary case conference. We conducted a negotiation with a senior prosecutor at the courthouse and discussed the matter in detail.

The prosecutor was of the view that diversion is never suitable for matters of a sexual nature. We disagreed, as it is our view that each matter should be considered on a case by case basis. It is important that the personal information of each accused is considered before diversion is refused by Victoria Police.

During negotiations, the prosecutor indicated his intention to charge our client with a more serious offence. The prosecutor was of the view that our client should actually be charged with sexual activity directed at another person, which has a maximum associated imprisonment period of 5 years.

We directed the prosecutor to the legislation and explained why we were of the view that our client was not guilty of the more serious offence. Following lengthy negotiations, the prosecutor agreed not to lay the additional charge and offered our client a Diversion Notice for sexual exposure.

This is a case study of an actual matter where the client was represented by Armstrong Legal. Details relating to the client have been changed to protect their confidentiality. The outcome, charges and facts have not been altered.

Our case studies are published to show real outcomes and give an indication of possible results. We cannot, and do not, guarantee a matter involving similar charges will get an identical outcome.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Michelle Makela

This article was written by Michelle Makela

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

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