Sometimes it’s hard to get privacy. You might have roommates who are home all the time. Or, maybe your parents don’t approve of your boyfriend or girlfriend, so you have to sneak around. For whatever reason, you find yourself having sex in your car.

Is this legal? Can you get arrested for having sex in your car? Does it depend on where you’re parked? What if you’re certain that no one else can see you? Ultimately, the answer depends. In Ohio, it can be illegal to have sex in a car. However, it’s not always against the law to get it on in your vehicle.

It’s a Crime to Have Sex in Public in Ohio

You could potentially be arrested on charges for public indecency if you’re caught having sex in your car. Here’s the thing, though. The crime requires you to be in public or in view of others. That will ultimately be the key to whether what you’re doing is legal or not.

Public Indecency

In Ohio, you can be arrested for public indecency under Ohio Revised Code 2907.09 if you recklessly:

  • Expose your private parts
  • Engage in sexual conduct or masturbation, or
  • Engage in conduct that would appear to be sexual conduct or masturbation

If that conduct “is likely to be viewed by and front others who are in [your] physical proximity.”

In other words, it’s illegal to have sex – or engage in behavior that appears to be sex – if other people around you can see. This doesn’t apply to members of your own household.

Could this apply to having sex in your car? Yes. If you’re parked somewhere where others around you could see what you’re doing and be offended, then it could be considered public indecency. The same holds true if you’re masturbating in your car.

When you’re arrested for recklessly engaging in public indecency, you’ll be charged with a fourth-degree misdemeanor. The crime is punishable by 30 days in jail and $250 in fines. If you’ve been convicted on public indecency charges in the past or children were present, you can face aggravated charges and punishments.

Charges Can Be Aggravated If You Have Sex In Your Car While Kids Are Around

Generally speaking, the crime of indecent exposure involves recklessly exposing yourself to others. This means that you didn’t intentionally exposure yourself or have sex so that others would see. Instead, others saw you – or could have seen you  – because you were careless and disregarded the consequences of getting naked in your car.

Things get a bit more complicated when you’re accused of intentionally exposing yourself to kids in public. You can be arrested for public indecency if you knowingly masturbate or engage in sex (or conduct that appears to be sex) in the presence of a minor. Note: this doesn’t apply if the minor is your spouse.

So, where you park when you have sex could influence what type of charge you face. If you’re at a park, school, or amusement park, you’d probably know that it would be very likely that children would be around. You could potentially face aggravated charges for aggravated public indecency. This can third-degree misdemeanor, punishable by 60 days in jail and $250 in fines.

Aggravated indecent exposure can also be a felony, which could demand registration as a sex offender, under certain circumstances.

How Can I Defend Myself If I’m Arrested For Having Sex In a Car?

The state of Ohio has to prove that you’ve broken the law. You have the right to offer any argument in your defense. Legitimate defenses to charges of public indecency can include:

  • You weren’t in view of another person
  • You weren’t having sex, touching yourself, or doing anything that would look like that
  • You’ve been falsely accused
  • You’re the victim of mistaken identity
  • The only people who saw you were members off your household
  • You’ve been the victim of an illegal search or unlawful arrest.

You can make the prosecution’s job much more difficult by hiring an experienced attorney to handle your defense. Your lawyer will know which defenses will offer you the best chance at a successful outcome. A strong defense can prevent the state from meeting its burden of proof. When this happens, prosecutors might be forced to consider a plea or drop your charges.