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Law Around Public Indecency

- Featured article by LAWYERS-ONLINE.CO.ZA - April 2019

In South Africa, public indecency is known as a common law crime, which means that it is not necessarily governed by any legislation, but rather through case law and the judgments of the courts in South Africa.

It is therefore tricky to explain exactly what constitutes an act of public indecency without pouring over pages and pages of case law. Therefore, when a person is accused of public indecency, their lawyer will have to look for legal precedent regarding the specific act they have been arrested for. However, some cities and regions also have their own by-laws which outline public indecency acts, and persons may be arrested in accordance with them.

According to SAPS, public indecency can be described as “unlawfully, intentionally and publicly engaging in conduct which tends to deprave the morals of others, or which outrages the public’s sense of decency”. This is a very wide definition, and it is up to the courts to determine whether or not the charge is valid, and whether it is in line with previous judgments. Therefore public indecency can range from being intoxicated in public to engaging in sexual acts in public.

If you require any assistance with a charge or public indecency, do not hesitate to contact us and we will refer you to a criminal attorney that is able to assist.

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