Organizers of St. Louis' chapter of the World Naked Bike Ride report that 1,000 cyclists participated in the 10-mile ride through various St. Louis neighborhoods Saturday evening. The number of naked and semi-naked bikers, gathered to promote cycling and positive body images, is more than twice that seen in 2011. Does this mean naked bicycling is the next big thing? If so, what are the legal consequences of such a display?
In answer to the first question, we certainly hope not. Many in St. Louis appear to disagree though, as the city's version of the ride is now among the biggest in the country. St. Louis' total riders come in third place, after the 10,000 nude bikers in Portland, Oregon and the 1,400 in Chicago.
In answer to the second question, the issue can get a little tricky. Participants in the St. Louis ride were encouraged by organizers to ride as "bare as they dare." Such a statement would seem to provoke an immediate response from police, but not a single arrest occurred at the naked bike ride. In fact, the St. Louis Police Department was on hand to assist cyclists through busy intersections.
Organizers behind the World Naked Bike Ride said that St. Louis Police Department cooperates in traffic control and agreed not to make arrests because the event is viewed as a political protest. When nudity is not used in public for sexual or lewd reasons, it may be permissible. According to Missouri Revised Statutes Section 573.010.14c, a demonstration can only be considered pornographic if the material or performance, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
For those naked displays not covered by political expression, Chapter 566 of Missouri Law governs. Section 566.093 states that:
"A person commits the crime of sexual misconduct in the second degree if such person: (1) Exposes his or her genitals under circumstances in which he or she knows that his or her conduct is likely to cause affront or alarm; (2) Has sexual contact in the presence of a third person or persons under circumstances in which he or she knows that such conduct is likely to cause affront or alarm; or (3) Has sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse in a public place in the presence of a third person."
Indecent exposure is the crime of exposing a private body part to others. Since there is usually no violence or touching of the victim, indecent exposure is usually considered a misdemeanor. Missouri law concurs and says that sexual misconduct in the second degree will be deemed a class B misdemeanor unless the person has previously been convicted of an offense under this chapter, in which case it is becomes a class A misdemeanor.
The consequences of a conviction can be severe and more serious charges can lead to mandatory registration as a sex offender under certain special circumstances. More than legal consequences, being arrested and charged with sexual misconduct can cause damage to your personal and professional image and should not be taken lightly. If you've had a run in with the law and find yourself in need of a Missouri criminal defense lawyer capable of fighting for your freedom, don't hesitate to contact our St. Louis criminal law firm today at (314) 863-0500.
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