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California Indecent Exposure Laws

Posted in California Law,General FAQ'S,Sex Crimes,Sex Offender FAQs on January 18, 2022

Under California Penal Code 314, you are prohibited from exposing your private parts in public to anyone who might be offended or annoyed. In order for the action to fall under this law, the defendant must have acted in a manner intended to draw attention to their private parts to offend someone else or for personal gratification. Call the Riverside defense attorney at Graham Donath Law Offices, APC, today if you were charged with indecent exposure.

What is Intent?

The intent is the critical part of the penal code under California law. If a defendant exposed their private parts in public, but with no one in the area to see, the conduct does not fall under the scope of the law for prosecution. 

Penalties for Indecent Exposure Convictions

If you are charged with and convicted of indecent exposure for the first time, you face a misdemeanor charge and a $1,000 fine. You could also face no more than one year in the county jail. 

If charged a second time with indecent exposure or have prior convictions for lewd acts with a minor, you face a mandatory felony charge that comes with time in state prison (up to three years) and a fine of up to $10,000.

Even a misdemeanor conviction requires you to register as a Tier One sex offender in California for at least a period of 10 years.

Factors Needed to Prove an Indecent Exposure Charge

To prove a violation of Penal Code 314, the exposure of one’s genitals must have been willful. This means that accidental exposure in public cannot be charged as a crime. If it is, and your defense attorney proves it was accidental, the charge should be dropped. All of the following must be proven by the prosecutor to convict a defendant of indecent exposure under California law:

  • Exposure by the defendant must have been willful
  • The exposure took place near someone who could be offended or annoyed by it
  • Exposing your genitals was done with the purpose of sexual gratification for yourself or someone else or to offend someone else sexually

Exposing breasts or underwear does not qualify under Penal Code 314 as indecent exposure in California. It must be your genitals and not any other naked area of your body. 

Crimes Related to Indecent Exposure

Other crimes can be levied against you in the commission of indecent exposure, including the following:

What is Aggravated Indecent Exposure?

Aggravated indecent exposure is defined as indecent exposure that occurred in a dwelling with other people inside it at the time of the incident, and you entered the dwelling without permission to do so. Under California law, aggravated indecent exposure can be charged on a first offense as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

Fighting an Indecent Exposure Charge

If you are charged with indecent exposure, be sure to consult a Riverside criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help build defenses to the charge, including the following:

  • Exposing your genitals was not purposeful (willful) or lewd
  • Exposing your genitals did not occur with others present
  • Your identity was mistaken for someone else
  • There is insufficient evidence to prove the incident was willful
  • There was a lack of intent that the exposure was done for sexual gratification
  • The plaintiff made a false accusation

Mistaken Identity

It is possible that the plaintiff or a witness identified you as the perpetrator of an indecent exposure crime. If this is the case, your Riverside criminal defense attorney will work to prove your mistaken identity. This can be done through alibis, corroboration from other witnesses, receipts, and video surveillance of the area where the crime occurred. 

Insufficient Evidence

As with any type of criminal case, a defense attorney will work to prove your innocence due to insufficient evidence. This can come in the form of the plaintiff recanting their story, the plaintiff being unable to identify you as the defendant, the police being unable to place you or other members of the public at the scene of the alleged crime, and many other examples.

Lack of Intent for Sexual Gratification

Even if you had willfully exposed yourself in public to someone else, the prosecution still must prove that there was intent for sexual gratification on your part or the part of someone else. If the prosecution cannot prove sexual gratification was present during the incident, your case could very well be dismissed by the court.

The Plaintiff Falsely Accused You of Indecent Exposure

It might take a bit of time, but the plaintiff might eventually admit that they falsely accused you of indecent exposure. This often occurs when the plaintiff is jealous, angry, or vindictive towards the alleged defendant. Suppose you are falsely accused of indecent exposure. In that case, your Riverside criminal defense attorney can ensure that the accuser is held accountable for filing a false report with the police and for defaming your name.

Appearing on the California Sex Offender Registry

Once you are added to the California sex offender registry for an indecent exposure conviction, you must remain on it for at least 10 years. Your name will appear during background checks for school, employment, loans, and leases for apartments. If you are a nurse, doctor, lawyer, or any other professional with a license, you could have your license revoked if you appear on the California sex offender registry. If you fail to register as a sex offender, you face up to one year in jail as a misdemeanor and up to three years in prison as a felony.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Were you charged with indecent exposure in California? Under Penal Code 314, the incident must have been willful and in the presence of someone else. Contact the Riverside criminal defense attorney at Graham Donath Law Offices, APC, online, or by calling  (951) 667-5293 to schedule a consultation today.