Naked on your own property?

The advice column in today’s paper had a question about people who wanted to use their backyard hot tub naked, including walking naked to and from the tub. And it sounds as though they live in a suburban area, with houses pretty close to each other.

What do you guys think? I’m going to check our local ordinances to see if they address it. At first, I thought, “who cares.” But then I started wondering: What if there are kids next door? Why not in the front yard? How about in the house with curtains open? What if they have a corner lot with the yard visible to the street?

My personal feeling is that out of courtesy they should probably wear robes to and from the tub, and consider putting in some sort of screen/bushes. Refusing those would make me think they were somewhat exhibitionistic.

Our town code refers to the state law on public indecency.

…in a public place commits a public indecency:
(1) An act of sexual penetration or sexual conduct; or
(2) A lewd exposure of the body done with intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desire of the person.
Breast-feeding of infants is not an act of public indecency.
(b) “Public place” for purposes of this Section means any place where the conduct may reasonably be expected to be viewed by others.

So it sound like the hot tubers would be good to go in Illinois, and I can mow my front yard nekkid! :smiley:

I wonder what else might cover it. Maybe disorderly conduct or something…

The Mrs. and I aren’t particularly body modest at all, and enjoy using our hot tub sans clothes when on our own or with likeminded friends. Fortunately we’re pretty rural so most days we could wander around our property (over 60 acres of woods and fields and trails) for a mile or more and not get spotted.

Even so, we also don’t wish to inflict nudity on anyone who may not be interested in seeing it. So in areas where our land is open and visible to a person doing normal activities (walking or driving past, etc) & they could see us, we make sure we’re not seen that way. But we don’t take any particular precautions to cover up where we’d be seen by someone intruding on us.

I think that it comes into question when you live in a suburban neighborhood, and you have a six-foot wood fence around your entire backyard; the only way someone is going to see you is if they peek over your fence, and I don’t think that constitutes public nudity, even when the peekers happen to be kids. You’re not being nude in plain sight of the public. If you leave the front drapes open and someone walking down the sidewalk can easily see inside your house, that’s a different story. Check your local codes just to make sure.

I read that letter, and it sounded like it would be very easy for the people who wanted to hot tub naked to be polite about parading from their house to the tub (as in, wear a bath towel) but they want to offend their neighbors if offense is to be had, and just don’t want to be arrested for it. Although nudity doesn’t offend me, the desire to be offensive sure does.

The letter seems to indicate that the tub - and the flesh - is within full view of a neighbor’s window some 40’ away. No mention of 6’ fences or anything.

I agree w/ Ulfreida - it seems as tho the questioner WISHES to offend - or at least shock or get some other reaction from - the neighbor. Amy - the communist, went some ways to calling them on that. For crying out loud - wear a towel.

I’m an engineer, not a lawyer, but my understanding is that most places follow the general rule of whether or not there is an expectation of privacy. In other words, if you walk around the house naked, you don’t expect to be visible from the road and you don’t expect people to be peeking in your windows. On the other hand, if you walk out onto your front porch naked, there is no expectation of privacy there, so you are guilty of indecent exposure.

If you are in your house with normal size windows, an expectation of privacy probably applies. On the other hand, if you have a huge bay windows with the curtains open, it’s probably expected that you would be visible from the road and therefore no expectation of privacy exists, and therefore you would be guilty of indecent exposure.

In the case of the hot tub, if there’s a privacy fence and your neighbors can’t normally see you, then that probably fulfills the expectation of privacy. If there is no fence, or effectively nothing blocking your neighbor’s view, then it’s no different legally than walking to the edge of your yard naked and shaking your naughty bits at your neighbor. You are exposing yourself to your neighbors.

Seems like a good way to end up on the sex offender registry to me.

Would it matter if the houses were 2-story and neighbors could easily see into the other backyards from the upstairs rooms?

I think it would matter since nothing is blocking the view of your backyard from your neighbor at that point. Put on a robe.

I am a lawyer, but I sure don’t specialize in exhibitionism. I wonder if this is the sort of situation where many of us might think something is against the law, when it really isn’t. My very hasty review of local and state law does NOT suggest that walking on your front porch naked = public indecency.

The permutations are countless. I’m sure I’ve read about men who were prosecuted for masturbating inside of their home, but in the window in clear view of passersby. On the other hand, ISTR it not being illegal for someone to do housework naked - even if with all the drapes open and with the lights on at night.

None of my immediate neighbors have privacy fences. There are bushes, but large parts of various yards are visible from various spots in each yard/house without doing anything other than gazing in a certain direction. Hell, you can even see right into and through houses if the curtains are open. I guess I’ve never thought about it, but I imagine any of us could just sunbathe naked in our yards if we wished. I generally have trained myself NOT to look towards my neighbors’ houses/yards, to respect their privacy. In my ignorance, I would have expected there to be some sort of no public nudity law. But, I guess if it is on your private property, it is not public nudity?

It sounds to me like you should not mow your front yard nekkid if you’re doing it to get your jollies (“with internt to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desire”). I’m not sure how they’d confirm or deny that that was your intent, though.

Here’s the letter for anyone who hasn’t seen it.

My husband and I are having a hot tub delivered soon.
We plan to use it during daylight hours without wearing swimwear.
Yes, nude! Yes, we have neighbors, about 40 feet away, who could see us if they choose to — in the tub or hopping from our patio door 20 feet to the tub.
We’re not shy and don’t plan to cover up. And no, we’re not going to “exhibit” ourselves.
We just want to enjoy our tub in our birthday suits.
Some non-neighbor friends are appalled.
Your thoughts?

Among other thoughts, Amy (the columnist) points out that the tone of the letter suggests they may be looking forward to upsetting their neighbors a little, and notes that if the neighbors can see them, they can also take photos and post them on social media.

Same way as any other law involving intent: a jury would have to determine whether they believed that was your intent (along with determining any other relevant claims about the case). And given that most people don’t do their yardwork in the nude unless there’s some reason to, and given that sexual gratification is the most obvious potential reason, it probably wouldn’t be too hard for the prosecution to convince the jury of that.

My city doesn’t require tops for women. This has created situations as when a topless woman was dancing in front of the windows of a daycare.

In NY it would be “Exposure of a person”

A person is guilty of exposure if he appears in a public place in such a manner that the private or intimate parts of his body are unclothed or exposed. For purposes of this section, the private or intimate parts of a female person shall include that portion of the breast which is below the top of the areola. This section shall not apply to the breastfeeding of infants or to any person entertaining or performing in a play, exhibition, show or entertainment.

What I’m not sure about is what constitutes a “public place” - I know that for some purposes in NY a public place includes private property that can be seen from the street and I suspect it does for this law too. I really don’t think it’s legal for me to stand naked in my front yard just because the yard itself is private property and it might include being seen from other people’s property.

This person must have sent the same letter to a number of advice columns Gift Link NYT

Sure, that’s what you’d expect to hear from a damned commie.

and Slate

You may have no obligation to wear a robe to the hot tub, and your neighbor may have no obligation not to blast rap music at 120 db. Show some consideration and common sense.

Difference of course, you can only be bothered by the nudity if you choose to look at it, while loud music is much harder to ignore.

Honestly, I think the problem is that we’re a nation of prudes, where the thought of seeing a naked body is somehow the most traumatic thing imaginable.

I disagree to some extent. I believe there is a social contract such that there is are unacceptable ways to be in public, and not covering certain parts of yourself is such a way. Whether you are horrified, titillated, or annoyed, that’s not as relevant as the social contract itself. In the past fifty years that contract has eroded ever farther. A lot of the friction in our society is around that erosion. There are clearly cruel parts of that contract which are worth examining and altering but a lack of public nudity doesn’t strike me as being in that category.