Indecent Exposure in California
In California, it is illegal to willfully expose your genitals to another person. However, this crime does require criminal intent. This means it is only considered a crime if the person exposing does so with the intent to receive sexual gratification, or to offend the other person.
First time offenders in the state are subject to a misdemeanor conviction. This can result in up to six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. You may also have to register as a sex offender for up to ten years. However, repeat offenders are subject to felony convictions.
Another way to be charged as a felon is to be convicted of aggravated indecent exposure. Entering one’s dwelling or home without permission and committing this crime is considered a felony. Felony penalties include a year and a half, or two, or three years in prison, up to a $10,000 fine, and a minimum of ten years on the sex offender registry.
Registering as a sex offender may not seem like a “punishment”, especially compared to prison or jail time, however it carries some serious implications. Job, loan, and credit applications often ask about or research whether you are on the registry, and institutions may hold that information against you. Many professional licenses become revocable by the issuing organizations for registered sex offenders, as well.
Your livelihood may be at stake!
Prosecuting California Penal Code 314
In order to convict you of violating Penal Code 314, a prosecutor must prove:
- You exposed your genitals;
- Someone else was present and maybe offended;
- You did so willfully;
- You wanted attention from the public to your genitals: and
- You intended either to:
- Sexually gratify yourself or someone else; or
- Sexually offend someone else.
This crime requires your intentional actions, meaning you exposed yourself out of your own free will and with the intent to annoy or offend another person or give or receive some type of sexual gratification. If it was an accidental exposure, you will not be convicted of this crime.
Further, the crime requires the exposure be bare. Exposing anything less than your naked genitals is not enough to warrant a conviction under Penal Code 314.
Simply being outside or in a park or mall is not enough to consider the exposure “in the presence of another”. For example, if you are isolated in an area that is public, you did not expose yourself to someone that may be offended by your actions. There needs to be an actual person present for the exposure.
Finally, even if you intentionally expose your genitals to another person, hoping the other person’s attention is paid to your genitals, and you had the intent to annoy the other person, the prosecutor still must show some sexually-motivated intent on your part, either to sexually gratify yourself or the other person, or to sexually offend them.
Defending a Penal Code 314 Charge
There are many ways to defend against claims that you indecently expose yourself, but enlisting the service of an experienced defense attorney is vital in doing so.
First, your attorney may simply argue the evidence presented against you is insufficient. In criminal cases, the prosecution bears the burden of proof that each element of the crime (listed above) is present beyond a reasonable doubt. Casting doubt on just one element will result in your acquittal.
Next, your attorney may show that you were wrongly accused or arrested, because there was no probable cause to arrest you simply because one person “claimed” you committed the crime. Often, one may accuse you of this crime out of spite or revenge.
You also have a viable defense if you exposed your under garments, but never your bare genitals. In addition, if you did not intend to be seen exposing yourself or to sexually annoy or gratify anyone, you cannot be convicted of the crime, as explained above.
Finally, if you are arrested and charged with violating penal code 314, but you are not the person that indecently exposed yourself to the victim, you will be acquitted. Mistaken identity is a huge part of sex crimes, because often the victim does not get a good look at the perpetrator of the crime.
We Want to Help
If you or a loved one is being charged with Indecent Exposure in violation of PC 314 in California, we invite you to contact us immediately for a free case review. Schedule an appointment to meet with us in person, or feel free to submit an evaluation online and we will get in contact with you ASAP. We can provide a free consultation in our office located in Century City, or by phone.
Our experienced and assiduous attorneys will be sure to fight until the end to reduce or drop your charges completely.
Call Us for a FREE Case Review: 310-274-6529