Indecent exposure occurs when you expose your genitals or other private parts in public and the presence of another person. A conviction for indecent exposure will cause you to spend a significant amount of time in jail and pay hefty fines. Also, this offense will enter your criminal record where it can come up in your background checks. Even though indecent exposure gets lesser penalties than other sex offenses, you will be required to register as a sex offender. If you or your loved one is facing indecent exposure charges in San Jose, California, it would be wise to seek legal representation. Fortunately, attorneys from the California Criminal Lawyer Group are ready to guide you. Our group of expert attorneys will help you reduce your penalties or even avoid the indecent exposure charges.
Overview of California Penal Code 314
Under California Penal Code 314, indecent exposure is willfully exposing your genitals in the presence of other people with the intent to gratify yourself sexually. The person who saw your private parts need to be offended or annoyed with your actions. Also, if you exposed your parts to irritate or intentionally annoy someone, you can be charged with an offense of indecent exposure. To be convicted for this offense, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements of the crime:
To be held liable for indecent exposure, your conduct must have been purposeful. Even when you did not intend to break the law, you will be faced with indecent exposure charges. If the prosecutor is not able to prove that the exposure was intentional and not by accident, this can form a basis for an improper exposure charge.
Exposure of Private Parts
Exposing yourself body and revealing your nakedness in front of others. For indecent exposure, you need to have shown your genitals or, generally, the private parts. However, it is essential to understand that exposure of breasts is not considered an act of indecent exposure in California. Also, you must expose the genitals in a way that is offensive to someone else. If your genitals are seen while urinating in a public place or your bathing suit comes off in an open pool, the act may not be considered indecent exposure. Also, showing off your underwear no matter how revealing it gets, you will not charge under Penal Code 314.
Exposure Occurred in a Public Place
For indecent exposure, a public place is a location where vulnerability is likely to be seen by several casual observers. This will include mall parking lots, restaurants, or even a public park. If you exposed our genitals in a private place and another person happened to see them, you cannot be convicted for indecent exposure.
You revealed yourself in the Presence of Someone Else
To prove that you committed an act of indecent exposure, they need to show that you exposed your private parts in the presence of someone. Also, the prosecutor needs to show that the other part got offended by your actions. If you were in a public place, but there was nobody around, your activities do not meet the definition of indecent exposure. Regardless of the person who witnessed your actions, as long as they were offended by your conduct, you will face Indecent exposure charges. If you are battling indecent exposure charges, it is essential to seek the legal representation of an experienced personal injury attorney.
You intended to Attract the attention to your Genitals
For indecent exposure, California Penal Code 314 requires that you exposed yourself intending to attract attention to your genitals. The act of exposing your private parts is not enough to convict you. The intention to draw attention must be present to prove indecent exposure. For example, an individual goes to an isolated part of a public park with the hope of changing their clothes and accidentally sees them. Since they did not intend to attract attention to their genitals, the action cannot constitute indecent exposure.
However, if you had the intention to draw the victim’s attention towards you, you can be convicted even if they did not see the genitals.
You wanted to Draw Public Attention to your Genitals for Sexual Gratification or To offend Someone Else
Unless your actions were lewd or geared towards sexual gratification, exposing your genitals in public does not support indecent exposure. To be convicted for this offense, the prosecutor must prove you exposed your genitals:
To sexually arouse or gratify yourself
Intending to arouse or gratify someone else sexually
With an intent to sexually offend another person
Before they prove that you are guilty of violating Penal Code 314, the prosecutor must effectively each element of the crime. If one of the components cannot be proven, you may not be held liable for indecent exposure. Seeking the legal guidance of a criminal defense attorney is one of the wisest decisions you can make if you are facing indecent exposure charges.
Legal Penalties for Indecent Exposure
Under California Penal Code 314, indecent exposure is often charged as a misdemeanor which triggers the following penalties:
A fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000)
A jail sentence not exceeding six months
A duty to register as a sex offender for a maximum of ten years
If you expose yourself is an inhabited building or while entering a home without permission, you will be charged with aggravated indecent exposure. Aggravated indecent exposure is a wobbler that can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances under which the act occurred. When charged as a misdemeanor, aggravated indecent exposure will attract a one-year jail sentence.
On the other hand, a conviction for a felony will subject you to:
Fines of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000)
A prison sentence ranging from sixteen months to three years
A duty to register as a sex offender for a period not exceeding ten years
If you have a prior conviction for indecent exposure or lewd conduct, you will be automatically charged with a felony. This will attract the penalties of aggravated indecent exposure.
Besides the jail sentences and fines you have to pay, you may be sentenced to formal probation after a conviction for indecent exposure. In case you are placed on probation, you will be expected to adhere to the following terms:
Random drug testing
You may be required to attend sex rehabilitation or sex addict programs
Random searches in your home
Regular check-in with your probation officer
Carry out community service and avoid committing any other offense while on probation.
A violation of any of the above terms of probation will attract additional charges.
Registering as a Sex Offender after a Conviction for Indecent Exposure in California
A ten-year registration as a sex offender is one of the harshest penalties after an indecent exposure conviction. Regardless of whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, an indecent exposure charge will trigger sex offender registration. If you fail to register as a sex offender, you can be charged with failure to register as a sex offender. This offense will be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the initial charge, which triggered sex offender registration.
Failure to register as a sex offender as expected will attract a one year in jail for a misdemeanor and three years in prison for a felony. If you register as a sex offender, the status will remain in your record where it can come up during a background check. A sex offender registration is embarrassing and can hinder you from getting decent employment. Also, professionals who work in medical fields are likely to lose their license after a sex offender registration.
Defenses for Indecent Exposure
To be convicted for indecent exposure, the prosecutor must show that you intentionally exposed your nakedness intending to gratify yourself sexually. Sometimes an innocent act or accidental exposure can land you in court facing indecent exposure charges. Getting arrested and charged under the Penal Code 314 does not guarantee a conviction. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can help you present the following defenses to your case:
Very little evidence is required to prove indecent exposure charges. This makes it easy for people who are seeking revenge to use against another person. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can argue that the person accusing you of indecent exposure is doing it out of spite or revenge. Also, you did not expose yourself in any way.
Lack of Intent to expose yourself
A prosecutor has to prove that you willfully exposed your private parts before convicting you for this offense. Sometimes the exposure is not intended; for example, when a homeless person stands naked in an alley, they may not be planning to arouse sexual desire. If another person accidentally saw your genitals, you can use a lack of willful intent as a defense to your case.
A person who has a mental illness or challenge cannot be held accountable for their actions. This is because they may lack the cognitive capacity to understand that their conduct is offensive to others. If you are facing indecent exposure charges, you can claim that you were not in the right state of mind when the act took place.
The age of the defendant may be used as a defense to indecent exposure charges. A child or young person is less likely to expose their genitals with the intention of sexual gratification. Sexual or offensive motivation is required to prove indecent exposure. If the motive is not present, then you cannot be convicted.
Consent between the Parties
Indecent exposure is showing your genitals in public presence of a person who is offended by the actions. If the person who saw your genitals consented to the exposure, they would not be offended by your conduct. A competent criminal defense attorney can help you show that the other party willfully agreed to see your nakedness.
Lack of Sufficient Evidence
You cannot get convicted for indecent exposure unless the prosecution proves all elements of the crime. If they are not able to show that your genitals were intentionally exposed in a public place, you will not be criminally liable for indecent exposure.
Depending on the circumstances under which the act occurred, a victim can be unable to identify the right culprit correctly. For example, when the action happened in a dark place, and the perpetrators face could not be seen clearly. There are various reasons why a victim may wrongly mistake you for the person who indecently exposed themselves. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can successfully convince the jury that your charge was a case of mistaken identity.
Frequently Asked Questions on Indecent Exposure in California
Is it still indecent exposure if you exposed yourself, but the other person closed their eyes?
Yes. When you expose your private parts in a public place and in the presence of another person, it is already an offense. In most cases, offenders aim at creating attention to their genitals for the purpose of gratification or offending another person. The exposed genital does not need to have been seen to get convicted for indecent exposure. It will still be indecent exposure even when the public closed their eyes.
Can a woman be charged with indecent exposure for walking topless?
No. Whether you walk topless for sexual gratification or to offend someone, exposure of female breasts is not considered indecent exposure in California. Also, breastfeeding in public will not be considered indecent exposure regardless of the level of exposure. You can either be charged or convicted under California Penal Code 314 for such an act.
Will I battle misdemeanor of Felony charges for indecent exposure?
Under California Penal Code 314, Indecent exposure is a wobbler. This offense can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the case and your criminal history. A first indecent exposure offense will be charged as a misdemeanor. California law is strict on repeat offenders; thus, subsequent indecent exposure charges are charged as a felony.
Does an Indecent exposure conviction require you to register as a sex offender?
Yes. An act of indecent exposure is considered a sex offense. Anyone who is convicted for a sex offense is required to register as a sex offender. Registering as a sex offender will significantly affect your personal and professional life. However, with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can avoid this penalty.
What happens when you expose your genitals in public, but nobody was around?
One of the main elements of the crime that a prosecutor needs to prove is that you expose your private parts in the presence of someone else - exposing yourself in a public place where there is no other person who will not form a basis for an indecent exposure charge.
Offenses Related to Indecent Exposure in California
If you are charged with indecent exposure in California, you may be charged with other crimes. This is because, for these offenses, a similar behavior triggers their occurrences. The following are common offenses charged alongside or instead of Indecent exposure:
Lewd Conduct with a Minor
Under Penal Code 288 of California, you commit lewd conduct with a minor by exposing as well as touching of your genitals in the presence of a child under the age of fourteen years. Also, if the person who touched your genitals is ten years younger than you, you can be charged with lewd conduct. However, unlike indecent exposure, the prosecutor needs to prove some form of touching. If touching occurred and the victim was a minor, you can be charged with lewd conduct instead of indecent exposure.
In extreme cases where you exposed yourself in front of the child, you will face both indecent exposure and lewd conduct with a child charge. Violation of Penal Code 288 is a more severe offense to indecent exposure. The nature of your sentence after a conviction for lewd conduct with a child will depend on
Whether violence threats or force accomplished the actions
The age of the child who was involved in the act
The pattern of lewd conduct on the moor
The age difference between the child and the defendant
A conviction for this offense can attract a sentence of up to eight years in prison. Also, you will be required to register as a sex offender in California. If you are facing lewd conduct with a minor charge, it is crucial to seek legal guidance of a criminal defense attorney.
Lewd Conduct in Public
Penal Code 647(a) of California defines lewd conduct in public as an act of touching yourself or another person’s genitals in public. To charge you with lewd conduct, the prosecutor must prove that you felt your genitals or another person’s. Moreover, you intended to arouse, gratify, or annoy another person sexually. To convict you for lewd conduct in public, the prosecutor must prove without a reasonable doubt that some touching occurred.
In California, lewd conduct in public is charged as a misdemeanor, which carries up to six months in jail or a fine not exceeding $1,000. Also, you may be sentenced to informal probation, depending on the circumstances of your case and your criminal history. If you both touched and exposed your genitals in public, you would be charged with lewd conduct in public as well as indecent exposure. If you are facing lewd conduct charges alongside indecent exposure, it would be wise to have legal guidance
If you are convicted for lewd conduct, you will not be required to register as a sex offender in California. With the help of a competent criminal defense attorney, you can seek a reduction of your indecent exposure charge to lewd conduct. This way, you receive lesser penalties, and your record will bot e tainted with a sex offender record.
Disturbing Public Peace
You will be charged with disturbing public peace for acting offensively in front of other people. However, disturbing order is not a sex offense either is it directly related to indecent exposure. A conviction for disturbing peace has lesser penalties as compared to indecent exposure. If you are facing indecent exposure charges, you can try to defend yourself by claiming that your conduct was disturbing public peace but not indecent exposure. Under California Penal Code 415, a conviction for disturbing public peace does not mandate a sex offender registration.
California Penal Code 602 – Trespass
It is considered a crime of trespass when someone enters a building or enclosure without permission from the owner. Regardless of your intentions when entering the building, trespass is often charged as a misdemeanor. You will be charged with aggravated indecent exposure where you entered a building and exposing your genitals to the people inside. If you enter a building to commit indecent exposure, you can be charged with burglary. In this case, you will be charged with trespass alongside aggravated indecent exposure and burglary. Also, intrusion can be used as a plea to avoid indecent exposure charges.
Fight Indecent Exposure Charges with the Help of a California Criminal Lawyer Near Me
A conviction for indecent exposure charges can be very embarrassing for you and your family. Besides the legal penalties you get for this offense, your reputation is likely to be ruined, and you may find it challenging to secure employment. However, getting charged with indecent exposure does not mean that you will get convicted. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you find defenses to your case. A successful defense can lead to a lessening of your charges or reducing your penalties. At California Criminal Lawyer Group, we will work hard to ensure the best possible outcome in your case. If you are in San Jose, CA, you will need us in your corner. Call us at 408-622-0204 today to discuss the details of your case.