If you have been accused of indecent exposure, the first, and most important step you can take, is contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney. Depending on the circumstances of your case and your criminal history, indecent exposure can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony sexual offense. Regardless of whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, you will be facing possible jail time, fines, and mandatory lifetime registration as a sex offender if convicted. A qualified sex crimes defense attorney can challenge the evidence against you and help you avoid the harsh consequences of a conviction.
What Is Indecent Exposure Under California Law?
California Penal Code 314 makes it illegal for a person to willfully and lewdly expose oneself or one’s private parts, in a public place or in any place where others are present and might be offended. Exposing oneself refers to revealing your entire naked body, while private parts means exposing one’s bare genitals.
To convict someone of this crime, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you willfully exposed your genitals in the presence of another person or persons who might be offended or annoyed by such actions and
- That you intended to call public attention to your genitals for the purpose of either sexually arousing or gratifying yourself or someone else or sexually offending another person.
It is not required that another person actually see the exposed genitals in order for you to be convicted of this crime. However, exposing one’s underwear or a female exposing her bare breast (i.e. for the purpose of breastfeeding) would not constitute indecent exposure.
If it is alleged that you committed the crime in an inhabited dwelling/building/trailer, the prosecution must prove that the willful and lewd exposure happened after you entered the structure without consent.
Penalties For Indecent Exposure
The penalties for indecent exposure depend on whether you have any previous convictions for this offense. If it is your first offense, it will be charged as a misdemeanor, which carries a punishment of up to 6 months in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. If you have been previously convicted of indecent exposure, any subsequent offenses will be charged as a felony, which is punishable be either 16 months, 2, or 3 years in a state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
If the indecent exposure occurs after you entered an inhabited dwelling house/building/trailer without consent, it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony regardless of whether it is your first offense. This is known as aggravated indecent exposure and, if charged as a misdemeanor, it is punishable by up to one year in county jail rather than 6 months.
If you are convicted of violating PC 314, you must register as a sex offender under Penal Code 290 regardless of whether the crime was charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Having a sex crime conviction on your record, and a lifetime duty to register as a sex offender can have long-term repercussions for your career, personal relationships, and reputation.
Protect Yourself With A San Diego Sex Crimes Defense Attorney
There are a number of defenses that can be raised to contest indecent exposure charges including insufficient evidence, lack of intent or accidental exposure, false accusations, and mistaken identity. An experienced criminal defense attorney can go over the specific facts of your case and determine if any of these defenses are applicable. It is best to hire an attorney as early as possible in the criminal process as this will give you the best chance of avoiding a conviction.
If you are facing charges for indecent exposure, you need the experience and skill of San Diego sex crimes defense attorney Jessica McElfresh on your side. Depending on the facts of your case, it may be possible to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge. Attorney Jessica McElfresh has successfully defended clients facing serious sex crime charges and she knows how to craft an effective defense. She is dedicated to achieving the optimal outcome for her clients and she will put her extensive knowledge and training to work for you.