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Sex in Public Charges: How Texas Prosecutes

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Getting Charged with Sex in Public in Texas

There are many laws in Texas that govern proper behavior for people in public places. Although many laws are intended to prohibit dangerous crimes like burglary and sexual assault, there are also several prohibitions on certain types of consensual sexual activity. This means that engaging in these actions can have legal consequences, even if all of the people involved were consenting adults.

Although there is no single law in Texas which covers all cases of sexual activity in a public place, there are multiple laws that can be applied if such an event takes place. In these situations, anyone convicted of these offenses could find themselves being ordered to pay fines or serve time in jail.

Is Sex In Public Illegal?

If someone is wondering if they can be arrested for having sex in a public place in Texas, the answer is definitely yes. However, it’s important to consider the way that Texas courts prosecute these cases.

First of all, it’s useful to look at some definitions. For instance:

  • “Sex” refer to any type of sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse or masturbation
  • A “public place” is any place where another person may encounter or witness the sexual activity.

To be more specific, any person or persons who engages in genital contact in any location other than behind closed doors may face criminal charges. This also applies to any type of sexual contact in a vehicle which is parked in a public area. If there is any chance that a passerby could possibly see the activity, criminal charges may apply.

Types of Related Offenses

Many cases involving public sex in the state of Texas can fall into one of two categories: public lewdness or indecent exposure:

  • Public lewdness is defined as any type of sexual activity or sexual contact which occurs in a public place
  • Indecent exposure is defined as exposing the genitals or private parts of any person in a place where another person may see and be offended

For example, if a couple is having sex in a park at midnight and they are discovered by a police officer, they may both be charged with public lewdness. They could also face charges of indecent exposure if a passerby sees and reports them.

Public lewdness is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. Indecent exposure is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail.

Additional Factors

There are some other legal considerations that may apply in cases of public sex. For example, these kinds of incidents may be more likely to occur at night. If this is the case, people who engage in public sex may be charged with trespassing or with the violation of city ordinances. In the example above of a couple having sex in a park, they may face additional fines or citations if they are caught in the park after hours.

Being caught while having sex in public in the vicinity of a school or young children may be punished more harshly than other cases. Indecent exposure cases involving minors or young children may be punished more harshly if a conviction is reached.

Although penalties may be more severe for repeat offenders, first time offenders may be more likely to get a plea deal with the court. Hiring an attorney is the best way to secure this type of outcome. An attorney may be able to help a defendant plead guilty to a sex in public offense in exchange for community supervision. Avoiding jail time by paying fines and performing community service is a much better outcome than spending time behind bars.


Have you been charged with public lewdness or indecent exposure? Attorney Brett Podolsky can help protect your rights. Contact his office today at 713-227-0087.

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