Having Sex In Public Can Lead To A Year In Jail, According To Legal Experts

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Sex on an airplane bathroom, in a parked car, or underneath the bleachers of a stadium is usually glorified as ~sexy and dangerous~. One of these scenarios even grants you access to the exclusive "Mile High Club." But these seemingly fun escapades can actually warrant real-world, high-stake consequences that you may not be thinking about in the heat of the moment. Having sex in public is actually a criminal offense — one that could earn you multiple penalties.

Known more officially as "public indecency" and "lewdness," having public sex can be categorized as either a Class A Misdemeanor or a Class B Misdemeanor, giving the perpetrators possible jail time for up to 12 months, probation, a criminal record, a fine up to $500, registering as a sex offender, and/or community service, depending on the state in which the act takes place. With all of these potential outcomes that could forever mar your records — influencing your future (and your wallet) — you want to make sure you fully understand the consequences before doing the deed.

I reached out to a variety of lawyers across the country to see what they had to say about the criminal consequences of having sex in public. Here's what they had to say.

Dejan Ristovski/Stocksy

First, Paul Cannon, a shareholder and trial attorney in Houston, Texas, breaks down public lewdness, which is "any type of sexual activity or sexual contact that occurs in a public place where indecent exposure is exposing the genitals or private parts of a person in a place where another person may see and be offended.”

So this means that regardless of the kind of sexual act you have in public, any public lewdness is illegal, and can be punishable.

The kind of consequences you face for public sex can depend on the state you're in and the police officer who witnesses.

"Whether or not a person gets jail time or just a fine depends on the standard practice of the local jurisdiction, meaning it very much depends on location," Matt C. Pinsker, Esq. tells Elite Daily. (Check out your state's laws regarding public indecency for specific details.) "Other factors considered for sentencing are criminal history of the defendant and if there are any aggravating factors (like the presence of children).”

If the people who witness the public indecency/lewdness are kids, and you're caught by an officer? You'll be "endangering the morals of a child," trial lawyer Norm Pattis tells Elite Daily, and you'll have to "register as [a] sex offender on state and federal registries."

The law is intended to protect the general public from bearing witness to lewd ("lustful") acts, says Todd A. Spodek, managing partner of Spodek Law Group P.C, which is why something more innocent like kissing isn't punishable.

Zheng Long/Stocksy

As for sex on airplanes and gaining entry to that infamous "Mile High Club?" The Tokyo Convention says the state of an airplane's registration, where those engaged in the public lewdness are from, and the witness' state, are all taken into account for the punishment.

There are defenses for public lewdness, which according to Wallin & Klarich law firm can be:

You did not engage in the behavior of which you are accused.
You touched yourself or someone else, but it was not for sexual gratification, or to annoy or offend someone else.
You reasonably believed that no one was present, or that anyone who was present would not be offended.
You were not in a public place or a place open to public view.
The police used entrapment or engaged in other misconduct.

At the end of the day, you decide whether or not you're willing to cross the legal lines to have public sex. Pattis' recommendation is, "If you need to scratch that itch, get a room, with a door that closes and blinds you can draw."

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