Sexual offenses are known by a lot of different names, and each charge has a specific meaning under the law in Missouri. We’re going to discuss one of the most common charges people end up facing: Sexual misconduct in the first degree. We believe that understanding the charges against you is the first step toward building your defense.

What is first-degree sexual misconduct?

Defined under Missouri Revised Statutes § 566.093, sexual misconduct in the first degree involves:

  • Situations where the defendant allegedly exposed their genitals under circumstances that they know are likely to offend or alarm others
  • Situations where the defendant allegedly had sexual contact in the presence of one or more third parties under circumstances they know is likely to offend or alarm others
  • Situations where the defendant allegedly had sexual intercourse in a public place in the presence of one or more third parties

If it’s your first offense, you’ll be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. If you’ve previously been convicted of sexual misconduct or something similar, you’ll be charged with a Class A misdemeanor — which can net you up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine (on top of the stigma associated with a conviction for a sex offense).

What sort of actions could result in this charge?

It’s probably no surprise that alcohol is often involved in cases of alleged sexual misconduct since alcohol is good at lowering people’s inhibitions — and tends to cause poor judgment. Here are some situations that could result in a sexual misconduct charge:

  • You “flash” a group of people at the bar on a drunken dare from your friends.
  • You and your partner get carried away at a party or in a public park and engage in sexual conduct despite the fact that others are nearby.

Keep in mind that what you may see as an impulsive act or “dumb mistake” can be viewed as outright criminal by the police — and a conviction for any sexual offense can have a tremendously negative effect on your life. That’s why it’s smart to talk to an attorney about your defense options as soon as you’ve been charged.