Can you sunbathe naked or skinny-dip in your own yard? Here’s what Texas state law says


As days heat up in Fort Worth, Texans are constantly looking for ways to cool off. Some turn up the air conditioner, while others opt to shed their clothes.

The question is can you be naked in your own backyard pool?

Texas law does not specifically ban sunbathing in the buff, but there are provisions for indecent exposure. So, what does that mean?


What does the Texas indecent exposure law say?

Texas indecent exposure laws are a little tricky when it comes to dropping the towel and letting it all hang out. The law on indecent exposure can be found under section 21.08 of the Texas penal code:

The law pretty much states that you cannot expose your genitals in order to sexually arouse or gratify a sexual desire of another person. Doing so and being ”reckless about whether another is present who will be offended or alarmed” by your nudity are grounds for a complaint.

A charge of indecent exposure is a class B misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and fines of up to $2,000.

Where it gets murky is in whether women in Texas can go topless in public. There are no state laws prohibiting it, but it can be seen as an act of disorderly conduct.

“While there are no laws against going topless, it still can result in an arrest,” according to a Fort Worth law firm website.

Is it legal to sunbathe or skinny-dip naked in your backyard?

This is Texas, and many would think your private property is your refuge. What happens in the privacy of your backyard pool is your business. Right?

Yes and no. It all depends on what can be proven in court.

If someone sees you naked in your backyard pool, the complainant still needs to prove that you intended to sexually arouse, according to the Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard. Greeting your neighbor at the front door in the buff could be seen as “reckless.” But being locked out of your house without clothes on may not.

What defense is there against an indecent exposure charge?

The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard have laid out a few scenarios that could be used as defense in an indecent exposure case:

  • Lack of exposure — Without photographs or videos, the prosecution may not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s genitals were exposed in order to arouse another.

  • Lack of intent — The defendant cannot be convicted of indecent exposure if they lacked the intent to arouse or gratify a sexual desire.

  • Intoxication — The court could consider the defendant’s level of intoxication and correlate that with their ability to make rational decisions.

  • Age — Age plays a big part in this. For example, a child is unlikely to undress with the intent of arousing another person.

  • Breastfeeding — Women have the right to breastfeed in public under Texas law.


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