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Naked Man in Doorway an Affront to Neighbors, but Fully Legal

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on March 17, 2015 2:27 PM

A man (or woman) is king of his castle. This usually means a person has the right to defend himself in his own home, but in this case, it means a North Carolina man has the right to be naked on his doorstep.

Disproving moms and dads in a Charlotte, North Carolina, neighborhood have been trying to stop their neighbor from standing naked in his doorway for the last 10 years. Despite over 30 calls to the police, the man has never been arrested. Why? Because he's not doing anything illegal.

How is this possible?

Safe! You Can't Tag Me!

No, North Carolina is not a nudist resort state; it does have a law prohibiting indecent exposure. According to the statute, Section 14-190.9, a person is guilty of indecent exposure if he "willfully exposes the private parts of his or her person in any public place and in the presence of any other person."

Naked Man (local news reports are not identifying him by name), however, is not in a public place when he stands on his doorstep. North Carolina courts have held that the front yard of a house and driveway is private property. However, if Naked Man were to step onto the sidewalk, which is public property, he could then be arrested for indecent exposure.

Be Glad You Don't Live in California, Naked Man

In other states, it'd be a different story. For example, if Naked Man lived in California, he wouldn't be able to get away scot-free with his dastardly crime. California's indecent exposure law is different than North Carolina's regarding public places. According to Section 314 of the California penal code, Naked Man would be guilty of indecent exposure if he willfully and lewdly "exposes his person, or the private parts thereof, in any public place, or in any place where there are present other persons to be offended or annoyed thereby."

In fact, California case law has found that "public places includes the area outside a home in which a stranger is able to walk without challenge." So Naked Man's front yard, which isn't blocked by a fence or gate, would likely be considered public property under California law.

Even if a court ruled that Naked Man's front yard is indeed private and not public, he could still be found guilty of indecent exposure in California. California's statute also makes it illegal to expose yourself anywhere (public or private) there is another person who is offended or annoyed. According to statements made by Naked Man's neighbors to WBTV, they are very annoyed and offended that they could see him standing on his doorstep in all his glory. Of course in Cali, it would need to be proven that he was acting "willfully and lewdly," but that is another story.

So while Naked Man's disgusted North Carolina neighbors are out of luck, there's another potential angle to this story: Could Naked Man sue them for harassment for calling the police on him all the time, even though they know what he's doing is perfectly legal?

April 28, 2015 Editor's Note: This post has been changed to better define the differences between North Carolina and California public nudity laws.

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