The Iowa Supreme Court has thrown out a Buchanan County man’s indecent exposure conviction that was based on a photo sent via text message.
Jose Lopez was arrested in 2014 after he texted a picture of himself with an erection to a woman he wanted to date, but who had gotten a restraining order against him. He was convicted of the charge, but appealed saying his attorney should have challenged the charge based on a lack of evidence.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruling notes there is a difference between receiving an unwelcome sexually explicit image received via text and having someone expose themselves in person It says the text recipient can immediately close the message and choose not to reopen it or delete it. While the same can’t be done if the exposure happens in person.
The ruling also says Iowa’s indecent exposure law does not allow an adult to send such a picture to a minor — but it does not make it illegal for an adult to send a picture of their genitals via text to another adult.
The Supreme Court says Lopez’s attorney should have challenged the evidence, and therefore was ineffective and reversed the indecent exposure conviction.
Here’s the complete ruling: Lopez-opinion-PDF