What is Gross Indecency?

In Michigan, it is a felony to engage in an act of gross indecency.

What is Gross Indecency?

There are two categories of violations of the gross indecency law. These categories are 1) committing a sex act in public and 2) committing a sex act involving a minor, even in private.

Committing a Sex Act in Public

This is where a person, who is in public, engages in a sex act, such as sex, fellatio, cunnilingus, or masturbation. These acts are easily identifiable as acts that will get a person in trouble for gross indecency.

However, any overtly sexual act in public could be a violation of the law. An act could be grossly indecent where it is clear the nature of the act is of a sexual nature, such as where a person derives sexual pleasure from an activity.

The act must be in public. In private, consenting adults can do whatever they want.

Public is defined as a place where a member of the public, who is in a place where the public is generally invited or allowed to be, could have been exposed to the act or could view the act being performed.

Sexual Activities with Minors

Sexual activity where a minor is involved is a violation of the gross indecency law, even where the act was in private.

These acts can include activities other than the traditional sexual activities. For example, inducing a minor child to engage in an activity designed to provide an adult with sexual pleasure, even without direct physical sexual contact, could be an act of gross indecency. Masturbation in the presence of a minor would be gross indecency. Or the inducement of a minor to perform sex acts or to procure a minor to perform sex acts for another person could be a violation as well.

Where an alleged act by an adult against a minor is of a direct sexual nature, the adult would probably be charged under a more severe criminal law, such as criminal sexual conduct. Nevertheless, any of those sex acts would still be acts of gross indecency.

Three Different Gross Indecency Statutes

There are technically three different gross indecency statutes. All three statutes prohibit the same conduct and have the same penalty. The only difference between the statutes is the genders of the people involved. The three statutes are;


Gross Indecency is a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a $2,500.00 fine, or both. In addition, a person who was sexually delinquent at the time of the offense must be punished by a minimum sentence between one day in jail to life.

Sex Offender Registration

A gross indecency conviction will require sex offender registration if there was a victim under 17 years of age. The severity of the registration increases when the child is under 13 years of age. A gross indecency conviction without a minor victim does not require sex offender registration.

Fighting Gross Indecency Charges

For obvious reasons, no one wants a conviction for gross indecency on his or her record. These charges require a proactive defense. A Michigan sex crime attorney can help you fight these serious charges.

Call Us

Call Sam Bernstein at 734-883-9584 or e-mail at bernstein@arborypsilaw.com.

Sam Bernstein is a Criminal Defense Attorney in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

ArborYpsi Law is located at 2750 Carpenter Rd #2, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

Read More About Gross Indecency Case Law

Gross Indecency v. Indecent Exposure Law

The gross indecency laws are closely related to the indecent exposure laws. Read about What is Indecent Exposure? to learn more.

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