Can one get arrested in certain states? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 27 Old 07-16-2010, 04:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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If you live in a state that does not exclude breastfeeding from public indecency laws, could you get arrested for NIP uncovered?

I'm looking to move to a different state and am trying to cover all of my bases. I live in Illinois and frequently NIP uncovered.

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#2 of 27 Old 07-16-2010, 02:06 PM
 
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Not sure if you could be *arrested* for breastfeeding in public, but here is a breakdown of breastfeeding laws by state if you're interested:

http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=14389

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#3 of 27 Old 07-16-2010, 02:14 PM
 
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Your covered (well, unless you dont want to be ) in NY State baby!

http://www.nyclu.org/node/2041

I carry that baby around in my purse. and I am not even currently nursing. I keep it to have to throw at someone if I happen to catch a mama being discrimminated against.
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#4 of 27 Old 07-16-2010, 02:54 PM
 
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Yes, technically you can be arrested for NIP. Most law enforcement officers would not arrest you for it, but as far as the law is concerned...if you break it, they can arrest you.

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#5 of 27 Old 07-16-2010, 04:14 PM
 
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I remember reading that, technically, before the law in MA was passed (last spring), one could, in theory, be arrested, charged for indecent exposure, and then forced to register as a sex offender! Now, I doubt that actually happened to anyone (would have caused quite an uproar), but it goes to show how necessary such protections are.
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#6 of 27 Old 07-16-2010, 04:24 PM
 
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Depending upon the individual state's laws I suppose you could be arrested. However, the majority of states and federal property are covered under breastfeeding laws. I would seriously doubt that if arrested you would be officially charged, and if you were you would have an excellent case based upon the current legislation elsewhere.

I remember reading (not sure where or else I would source it here), that the breastfeeding laws were intended as extra insurance for NIP mothers. That even before they were passed women were legally allowed to NIP; that they were passed to prevent naysayers from saying, "Well, where does it say she CAN..." Just because there isn't a law stating a certain behavior is permissible, doesn't mean that it isn't. We would need a lot of new legislation then.

If you know where you are moving, contact a local LLL chapter and ask; they should have an answer. Or I'm sure there is at least one legal expert from every state on these boards, just post more specifics when you know.
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#7 of 27 Old 07-16-2010, 07:47 PM
 
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As I understand it, NIP is not illegal in any state. So you couldn't be rightly arrested just for NIP. You could be arrested for trespassing if you refused to leave when asked, or possibly indecent exposure, or disturbing the peace or something.

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#8 of 27 Old 07-16-2010, 07:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's just that not all states exclude nursing in public from public indecency laws- so theoretically if you flashed your nipple for a second, it could legally be called "indecent exposure", right?

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#9 of 27 Old 07-16-2010, 10:11 PM
 
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Yes, I should have been clearer when I said you could be arrested for NIP. You wouldn't be arrested for nursing, but for exposing your nipple if it was showing.

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#10 of 27 Old 07-16-2010, 11:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oy

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#11 of 27 Old 07-17-2010, 02:03 AM
 
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Illinois:

Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 20 § 2310/55.84 (1997) allows the Department of Public Health to conduct an information campaign for the general public to promote breastfeeding of infants by their mothers. The law allows the department to include the information in a brochure for free distribution to the general public. (Ill. Laws, P.A. 90-244)

Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 705 § 305/10.3 (2005) amends the Jury Act. Provides that any mother nursing her child shall, upon her request, be excused from jury duty. (Ill. Laws, P.A. 094-0391, SB 517)

Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 720 § 5/11-9 (1995) clarifies that breastfeeding of infants is not an act of public indecency. (SB 190)

Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 740 § 137 (2004) creates the Right to Breastfeed Act. The law provides that a mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be; a mother who breastfeeds in a place of worship shall follow the appropriate norms within that place of worship. (SB 3211)


Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 820 § 260 (2001) creates the Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act. Requires that employers provide reasonable unpaid break time each day to employees who need to express breast milk. The law also requires employers to make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, where an employee can express her milk in privacy. (SB 542)

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#12 of 27 Old 07-17-2010, 03:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I know I'm clear in Illinois My question was about other states that don't exclude breastfeeding from public indecency laws.

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#13 of 27 Old 07-17-2010, 11:20 AM
 
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I *think* all but one state has a law in place protecting a mother's right to NIP. West Virginia is the only state, I believe, that does not have at least something on the books.

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#14 of 27 Old 07-17-2010, 11:45 AM
 
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Yes, West Virginia is the only state with no breastfeeding laws protecting moms on the books. Several other states do not have the protection from prosecution law in place but DO have a right to BF law-which also means arrest cannot happen because you cannot be arrested for something you have the right to do.

It is theoretically possible even with laws on the books to be arrested under another law for NIP but I have never heard of such a thing happening(I have heard of business owners/managers trying to have a BF mom arrested for trespassing or disturbing the peace for refusing to leave the business).

Even with all the possibilities-rare as they are- It would seem that the odds of this ever actually happening are slim to none.
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#15 of 27 Old 07-17-2010, 05:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, that makes alot of sense Raine!

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#16 of 27 Old 07-17-2010, 06:07 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WindyCityMom View Post
If you live in a state that does not exclude breastfeeding from public indecency laws, could you get arrested for NIP uncovered?

I'm looking to move to a different state and am trying to cover all of my bases. I live in Illinois and frequently NIP uncovered.
This article http://www.mothering.com/breastfeedi...tation-and-law and this map http://www.mothering.com/sites/resources/laws.pdf should be helpful. To my knowledge there has never been an arrest of a breastfeeding women for indecent exposure, either before or since these laws were enacted. Arrest is possible for trespass under many state laws (see the article) but not indecent exposure.

Hope that helps.

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#17 of 27 Old 07-17-2010, 06:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Raine822 View Post
Yes, West Virginia is the only state with no breastfeeding laws protecting moms on the books.

Actually West Virginia, Nebraska and Idaho. Three left with nothing concerning breastfeeding in public.

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#18 of 27 Old 07-17-2010, 07:02 PM
 
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Thanks! I completely missed that Idaho and Nebraska only have jury duty laws. I saw text and assumed.
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#19 of 27 Old 07-17-2010, 07:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Raine822 View Post
Thanks! I completely missed that Idaho and Nebraska only have jury duty laws. I saw text and assumed.

That is why I made the map. The NCSL site makes it look like every state has a law that really helps breastfeeding mothers but there is a lot of fluff out there.

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#20 of 27 Old 07-17-2010, 08:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Raine822 View Post
Thanks! I completely missed that Idaho and Nebraska only have jury duty laws. I saw text and assumed.
Ooops, I did the same thing. D'oh.

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#21 of 27 Old 07-18-2010, 09:03 PM
 
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From NCSL website above.

Quote:
Twenty-eight states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming).
So in these states, it wouldn't be a "oh, you showed a nipple for a second--INDECENCY!" situation.

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#22 of 27 Old 07-19-2010, 12:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Fortunately I live in one of those states

But nonetheless- I don't know if I should limit my places to move to the above mentioned list of states based on the sole fact that I could get in trouble for flashing a bit of nipple (and I have a pretty distracted pop-on-and-off nurser as well )

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#23 of 27 Old 07-19-2010, 06:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by WindyCityMom View Post
Fortunately I live in one of those states

But nonetheless- I don't know if I should limit my places to move to the above mentioned list of states based on the sole fact that I could get in trouble for flashing a bit of nipple (and I have a pretty distracted pop-on-and-off nurser as well )

"Breastfeeding friendly" places aren't also the same places with strong breastfeeding law. Also every state indecency law is different and a nipple flash wouldn't violate every one even if breastfeeding isn't exempt (for example, it is perfectly legal for women to go topless in Ohio therefore there is no need for a breastfeeding exemption to Ohio indecency law).

As I said above, no women has EVER been charged with indecent exposure for breastfeeding. None. Ever. Calling breastfeeding indecent has always just been a scare tactic and breastfeeding exemptions to public indecency law hasn't resulted in a decrease in harassment for public breastfeeding.

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#24 of 27 Old 07-20-2010, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Aaah, gotcha.

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#25 of 27 Old 07-29-2010, 04:48 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambystoma View Post
From NCSL website above.



So in these states, it wouldn't be a "oh, you showed a nipple for a second--INDECENCY!" situation.
It wouldn't be indecent, but in some of these states, that is only law pertaining to BF. Your right to do so in any public space is not protected. So a private business could ask you to leave if they wished and be within their rights to do so in a state like Michigan. (where I live )

There are upsides and downsides to living in a state that doesn't seem to like to make a whole lot of laws about personal choices...

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#26 of 27 Old 07-31-2010, 01:18 PM
 
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In Maine, a woman can legally go topless without risk of arrest. I've breastfed all over this state, even while getting a tattoo. And never once has anyone objected, so we're a pretty bfing friendly place, I'd say!

So I'd say you're covered *no pun intended, if you want to move here!

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#27 of 27 Old 08-01-2010, 05:05 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WindyCityMom
It's just that not all states exclude nursing in public from public indecency laws- so theoretically if you flashed your nipple for a second, it could legally be called "indecent exposure", right?
I don't think so. When a state modifies an indecent exposure law to clarify that breastfeeding is not indecent exposure, they are simply clarifying something that is already a legal truth. They are not giving you a legal right that you didn't have before. It's just to reduce confusion (in other words, to prevent some fool from legally interpreting breastfeeding as indecent even though it obviously isn't). NIP is never indecent exposure, whether state law specifically clarifies this or not.

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