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What is Sexual Misconduct in Indiana? 

In today’s world, the definition of “sexual misconduct,” is rather broad and encompasses a variety of actions that may or may not be illegal. However, for the purpose of understanding the laws related to illegal sexual misconduct in Indiana, this article will focus on several criminal offenses that fit the common definition of sexual misconduct. These offenses include sexual misconduct with a minor; sexual misconduct with a service provider; vicarious sexual gratification or sexual conduct in the presence of a minor; public indecency; voyeurism; and the distribution of an intimate image.  

If you’ve been charged with sexual misconduct in Indiana, or any of the offenses listed above, it’s best to contact an Indianapolis sex crimes attorney as soon as possible. The criminal defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP have extensive experience defending those accused of sex crimes. Our team can skillfully handle your defense while aggressively protecting your rights at each stage of the criminal justice process. To speak with a member of our criminal defense team today, call us at 317-751-7186 or complete our online contact form to schedule your free case consultation.  

Sexual Misconduct in Indiana: Sex Crimes 

When it comes to sexual misconduct in Indiana, the two most obvious offenses are sexual misconduct with a minor and sexual misconduct by a service provider. However, another crime that is often considered to be an act of sexual misconduct in Indiana is an offense called “Vicarious Sexual Gratification or Sexual Conduct in the Presence of a Minor.” These are all considered to be sex crimes, and can lead to some of the most severe penalties under Indiana law. Plus, those convicted of any of these offenses may also be required to register as one of the various types of sex offenders in Indiana.  

Sexual Misconduct in Indiana with a Minor 

Per Indiana Code 35-42-4-9, when an adult, over the age of 18, knowingly or intentionally performs or submits to sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct with a child under the age of consent in Indiana (16 years old), they commit sexual misconduct with a minor. Furthermore, if an adult, over the age of 18, knowingly or intentionally performs or submits to any kind fondling or touching with a child less than 16, with intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desires of either the child or themself, they also commit sexual misconduct with a minor. Both of these offenses of sexual misconduct in Indiana are considered to be a Level 6 felony. However, the severity of the charge is subject to change if certain circumstances exist. For example, if the offender is older than 21, a conviction would result in a Level 4 felony; and if the crime was committed using or threatening deadly force, while armed with a deadly weapon, or by providing the victim with a controlled substance without their knowledge, one would face charges of a Level 1 felony in Indiana.  

Although these laws may seem rather cut and dry, the laws on sexual misconduct in Indiana do provide some statutory defenses. For example, it is an applicable defense if the accused person reasonably believed that the child was at least 16 when the conduct in question took place. Another applicable defense is that the child is or has been married. However, these two defenses only apply if no deadly force was threatened or used, no deadly weapon was present, and the child was not given a controlled substance without their knowledge.  

It’s also important to remember that there is a Romeo and Juliet law in place regarding the age of sexual consent in Indiana. This means that although the Indiana age of consent is 16, the law makes allowances for younger persons to consent to sexual activity with their peers, under some circumstances. Under Indiana’s Romeo and Juliet law, a person may legally have consensual sex with a 14- or 15-year-old if all of the following elements apply: 

  • The person is no more than 4 years older than the victim 
  • Both parties are in a dating relationship or ongoing personal relationship 
  • The sexual act was not committed by using or threatening to use deadly force 
  • The sexual act was not committed while armed with a deadly weapon 
  • The sexual act did not result in serious bodily injury 
  • The sexual act was not committed as the result of drugging the other person without his or her knowledge or knowing the victim was drugged without their knowledge 
  • The sexual act was not committed by a person with substantial influence or in a position of authority over the victim 
  • The person does not have a record of another sex offense 
  • The person is not promoting prostitution 

Sexual Misconduct in Indiana by a Service Provider  

Sexual misconduct by a service provider is defined in Indiana Code 35-44.1-3-10, which states that a service provider (which means a public servant, person employed by a government, or a person who provides goods and services to a person subject to lawful detention) knowingly or intentionally engages in sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct with a person who is subject to lawful detention or lawful supervision commits sexual misconduct, a Level 5 felony. However, this can be escalated to a Level 4 felony if the service provider is over the age of 18 and knowingly or intentionally engages in sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct with a person under the age of 18 who is subject to lawful detention or supervision.  

Unlike the offense of sexual misconduct with a minor, there are no statutory defenses for those charged with sexual misconduct by a service provider in Indiana. In fact, the law explicitly states that “it is NOT a defense that an act described in this subsection was consensual. However, it should be noted that this law does not apply to sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct that takes place between spouses.  

Legal Definitions related to sexual misconduct in Indiana

Vicarious Sexual Gratification or Sexual Conduct in the Presence of a Minor 

One offense that’s generally considered to be sexual misconduct in Indiana, though it’s not explicitly titled as such, is vicarious sexual gratification or sexual conduct in the presence of a minor. This offense, as defined in Indiana Code 35-42-4-5, occurs when a person over the age of 18, with the intent to arouse of satisfy the sexual desires of a child or themself, knowingly or intentionally directs, aids, induces, or causes a child under the age of 16 to fondle or touch themself or another child under the age of 16. This offense is considered to be a Level 5 felony and can be escalated to higher level felonies under some circumstances. For example, if the child involved is under the age of 14, the charge would be escalated to a Level 4 felony. Furthermore, the offense can become a Level 3 felony if the crime was committed using or threatening deadly force, while armed with a deadly weapon, the victim was furnished with a controlled substance without their knowledge, or the crime resulted in serious bodily injury.  

This section of Indiana law also addresses offenses related to adults knowingly or intentionally directing, aiding, inducing or causing a child under the age of 16 to engage in intercourse with another child under the age of 16, engaging in sexual conduct with an animal or other human being; or engaging in “other sexual conduct,” with another person. If charged with this offense, a person would face a Level 4 felony or even higher, if any of the same enhancing circumstances in the paragraph above apply. 

Finally, this section also criminalizes knowingly or intentionally engaging in sexual intercourse, other sexual conduct, or touching/fondling oneself while in the presence of a child less than 14 years old with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of the child or of the offender, themself. If found guilty of this crime, the offender would face a Level 6 felony in Indiana.   

Sexual Misconduct in Indiana: Indecent Acts 

Although acts like public indecency, public nudity, voyeurism and certain violations of Indiana’s pornography laws aren’t explicitly titled as sexual misconduct in Indiana, many individuals would consider them to be acts of sexual misconduct. And similar to the offenses listed earlier in this post, the potential penalties for these crimes are severe. If you’ve been charged with an indecent act, it’s best to speak with an Indiana sex crimes attorney immediately. Although some of these acts only carry a misdemeanor charge, they can easily be elevated to a felony, depending on the circumstances of the offense. To speak with an Indianapolis criminal defense attorney, call Keffer Hirschauer LLP today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

Public Indecency and Public Nudity 

Indiana Code 35-45-4-1 defines public indecency as knowingly or intentionally engaging in sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct; appearing in a state of nudity with the intent to arouse ones’ own sexual desires or the sexual desire of another person; or fondling one’s own genitals or the genitals of another person; in a public place. If charged with public indecency in Indiana, one would face a Class A Misdemeanor. Furthermore, if a person already has a prior unrelated conviction under this law, they can be charged with a Level 6 felony.  

Similarly, one can be charged with public indecency, even if they’re not in a public space. If a person engages in sexual intercourse, other sexual conduct, fondling or appears in a state of nudity, in a private space, with the intent to be seen by persons other than the occupants or invitees of that space, they can be charged with a Class C Misdemeanor.  

Public nudity, on the other hand, has three levels of severity. Per Indiana Code 35-45-4-1.5, a person who knowingly or intentionally appears…  

  • in a public place in a state of nudity commits public nudity, a Class C misdemeanor 
  • in a public place in a state of nudity with the intent to be seen by another person commits a Class B misdemeanor 
  • in a state of nudity in or on school grounds; in a public park; or with the intent to arouse the sexual desires of the person or another person, in a department of natural resources owned or managed property; commits a Class A misdemeanor 

Voyeurism  

Indiana Code 35-45-4-5 defines voyeurism as knowingly or intentionally peeping; going onto land or into an occupied dwelling of another person with the intent to peep; or peeping in an area where an occupant of an area can reasonably be expected to disrobe (including restrooms, baths, showers and dressing rooms); without the consent of the other person. If charged with this offense, which some would consider sexual misconduct in Indiana, one would face a Class B misdemeanor.

Legal Definitions related to voyeurism and sexual misconduct in Indiana

While a Class B misdemeanor may seem like a rather low-level offense, it’s important to understand that some acts of voyeurism carry a much more serious penalty. For example, if the offense is committed, knowingly and intentionally by a person with a prior but unrelated conviction of voyeurism; by means of camera; or the person published the image, makes it available on the internet or transmits/disseminates the image to another person; they may face charges of a Level 6 felony. 

Distribution of an Intimate Image  

Another offense that some would consider to be sexual misconduct in Indiana would be distributing an intimate image, otherwise known as revenge porn in Indiana. Per Indiana Code 35-45-4-8, a person who knows (or reasonably should know) that the individual depicted in the intimate image does not consent to the distribution of the intimate image yet distributes the image anyways, commits the criminal offense of “distributing an intimate image,” which is a Class A Misdemeanor in the state of Indiana. Furthermore, if the offender has been convicted under the Indiana revenge porn laws in the past, they can be charged with a Level 6 felony.   

Charged with Sexual Misconduct in Indiana? 

If you have been charged with sexual misconduct in Indiana, or any related offense, the first thing you should do is contact the best Indiana sex crimes lawyer that you can find. Whether you’ve been charged with a violation of the indecent acts, sexual misconduct or Indiana sexual assault laws, an experienced attorney will be able to help you understand the laws surrounding your alleged offense and the seriousness of the penalties you face, as outlined in the Indiana sentencing guidelines. Ultimately, they can help you craft the best possible defense for your case and ably represent you through the entire criminal justice process.  

If you’d like to speak with a highly regarded Indiana sex crimes attorney today, contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our team is made up of former deputy prosecutors who have both prosecuted AND defended individuals for sex crimes in Indiana. They have an intimate understanding of how these crimes are treated by the court and can often anticipate which strategy the prosecution will use in the case against you. To put yourself in the best position possible, call us today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.  

Summary
Sexual Misconduct in Indiana
Article Name
Sexual Misconduct in Indiana
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While only two laws explicitly address sexual misconduct in Indiana, there are a handful that fit the more widely accepted definition. Learn more here.
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Keffer Hirschauer LLP

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