With all the sunshine and water around us here in North Central Washington, people are enjoying an amazing summer with many trying to cool off and avoid tan lines by sunbathing nude or skinny dipping. However, the legality of these activities on private property remains uncertain.
Washington law prohibits indecent exposure as a misdemeanor, but it doesn't specify if nudity on one's property is unlawful. Certain areas, like Seattle, may be more lenient towards public nudity. For instance, in the Solstice Parade, nude individuals with body paint were seen on the streets of Fremont in June.
The key factor is whether the nudity is seen by others. Public Information Officer William Muse states that location and context matter. Bathing outside a home may be reasonable if privacy measures, like high fences, are in place. Complaints may lead to police intervention, but usually, authorities educate residents before resorting to arrest. Skinny-dipping can also lead to public indecency charges if observed by others.
Both nude sunbathing and skinny dipping can be classified as misdemeanors, punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail. Bottom line (pun intended), enjoy the sun in your backyard on your own terms, as long as you maintain privacy.