What is obscene or indecent exposure?

This offence is governed by section 5 of the Summary Offences Act 1998. It provides that a person is prohibited from wilfully and obscenely exposing themselves in or within view from a public place or school.

Obscene exposure is defined as something that offends community standards of public decency. The Supreme Court case, R v Eyles [1977] NSWSC 452, clarified that ‘obscene’ exposure is where a person’s genitals are on display. It does not matter whether anyone actually saw genitalia exposed. It matters more that a person could have been seen.

Note that you do not have to be in a public place or a school to be charged with this offence. It is enough that you are within view of a public place or a school.

Section 3 of the Act defines a public place as any ‘place’ or ‘a part of a premises’ that is open to the public. So even a change room or public toilet is captured in this definition.

Exposure must be wilful; and not accidental, or through negligence, or through the act of another person.

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