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Indecent Exposure

Penal Code 314 PC - Indecent Exposure in California  

California Penal Code 314 PC makes indecent exposure a crime that occurs when you willfully expose your genitals or naked body in public to another person who could be offended or annoyed.

Notably, the act of “exposing” yourself must be done with the intent to draw public attention to your genitals for sexual gratification or to offend another person. In other words, when PC 314 is prosecuted, intent is the crucial element of the crime.

The penalty for a first-time conviction is a misdemeanor that carries up to six months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, a second offense could be charged as a felony that carries time in state prison. An indecent exposure conviction will require registration as a tier-one sex offender for at least ten years, which can impact where you live and work.

Penal Code 314 PC - Indecent Exposure in California
PC 314 indecent exposure is willfully exposing your genitals in public for sexual gratification.

PC 314 says, “Every person who willfully and lewdly either:

1. Exposes his person, or the private parts thereof, in any public place, or in any place where there are present other persons to be offended or annoyed thereby; or,

2. Procures, counsels, or assists any person so to expose himself or take part in any model artist exhibition, or to make any other exhibition of himself to public view, or the view of any number of persons, such as is offensive to decency, or is adapted to excite to vicious or lewd thoughts or acts, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Every person who violates subdivision 1 of this section after having entered, without consent, an inhabited dwelling house or trailer coach as defined in Section 635 of the Vehicle Code or the inhabited portion of any other building is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison, or the county jail not exceeding one year.

Upon the second and each subsequent conviction under subdivision 1 of this section, or a first conviction under subdivision 1 of this section after a previous conviction under Section 288, every person so convicted is guilty of a felony and is punishable by imprisonment in state prison.”

What is Indecent Exposure?

The crime of indecent exposure is intentionally exposing yourself in a public place when the exposure is considered lewd, out of place, and not normal. Indecent exposure involves only genitalia. It's the deliberate exposure of your private body parts when the exposure is offensive and against the standards of decency. 
Under PC 314, if you intentionally expose your genitals in public, then you could be charged with a crime. You could be found guilty of indecent exposure under the following circumstances:  

  • You willfully and lewdly expose your naked body or genitalia in a public place while other people are around who could be annoyed or offended.
  • Participating in a public exhibition of such indecent exposure that could be considered offensive or to incite vicious or lewd thoughts or acts.

Notably, the terms “willfully and lewdly” are critical factors in proving someone guilty of indecent exposure. The prosecutor must prove that you intended to expose yourself to others for the purpose of self-gratification or to annoy or offend.

What Acts Are NOT Considered Indecent Exposure?

Indecent exposure requires intentionally displaying the genitals for a sexual purpose. Thus, it should be noted the crime of indecent exposure does not include the following situations: 

  • Exposure of a woman's breasts.
  • Nudity that was accidental.
  • Wardrobe malfunctions that show your private parts.
  • Nudity while you believed you were alone.
  • Exposing your underwear.
  • Unintentional exposure is not considered illegal.
  • Any display that was not sexually motivated, like urinating in public.
  • Mooning” someone is not indecent exposure or a criminal act.

What Factors Must Be Proven for a Conviction? 

To convict you of Penal Code 314 PC indecent exposure, a prosecutor must prove all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, including the following:

  • You willfully exposed your genitals,
  • Exposed yourself in the presence of somebody who might be reasonably offended or annoyed,
  • You had the intent to direct public attention to your genitals,
  • You expose yourself to sexually gratify yourself or somebody else or to offend someone sexually.

Simply put, the indecent exposure must be an act of public nudity that was sexually motivated. Prosecutors must prove your actions had the intent to disturb someone who was viewing. 

Willfully” means the act was on purpose, but it does not mean you intended to break the law. “Exposing” means to reveal your naked body.  “Private parts” means to reveal your bare genitals.

Being in the presence of somebody who might be annoyed or offended means exposing yourself to someone's presence who could be reasonably offended. With intent to direct public attention to your genitals, the exposure must be with the intent of directing attention to them.

Sexual arousal or sexual offending means you acted with lewd or sexually motivated intent, such as the following:

  • You intended to achieve sexual gratification.
  • You intended to gratify or arouse another person's sexual desire.
  • You intended to offend another person sexually.

What are the Penalties for PC 314 Indecent Exposure?

Penal Code 314 PC indecent exposure is typically a misdemeanor offense for a first conviction. The penalties for a PC 314 include the following:

A second or subsequent indecent exposure offense or a prior conviction for Penal Code 288 PC lewd acts will result in PC 314 case files as a felony carrying the following penalties:

  • 16 months, two years, or three years in a state prison,
  • A fine of up to $10,000,
  • Mandatory PC 290 sex offender registration for ten years.

Notably, if the victim were a minor, the same penalties would apply as there are no enhancements for this under PC 314 indecent exposure law. 

However, suppose you intentionally expose your genitals to a minor for a sexual purpose. In that case, you could be facing charges under Penal Code 647.6, annoying or molesting a child. Still, prosecutors must prove you have an unnatural sexual interest in children, which is more difficult to prove than just exposing yourself to a minor.

Do You Have to Register as a Sex Offender?

A PC 314 misdemeanor or felony conviction will result in a requirement to register as a tier-one sex offender for at least ten years. California has a three-tier sex registration system. This means serious collateral consequences that will follow you for the rest of your life. 

California Penal Code 290 Sex Offender Registration

A background check will reveal the indecent exposure conviction to possible employers, and it often affects your ability to obtain housing or loans. 

What makes PC 314 indecent exposure so damaging is that it's considered a sex crime in California, where you must register with local law enforcement every time you move. You might face certain restrictions on where you can live and work depending on the circumstances. 

Further, licensed professionals, such as doctors, dentists, and lawyers, could lose their licenses if convicted of a sex crime requiring registration.

Failure to Register

Suppose you fail to register as a sex offender or fail to update any changes to your situation. In that case, you could be charged with a separate crime of failing to register as a sex offender. Failure to register can be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the underlying charge, with the following penalties:

  • A misdemeanor carries up to 364 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
  • A felony carries 16 months, two, or three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

What are the Enhancements for PC 314 Indecent Exposure? 

As noted, PC 314 indecent exposure is usually a misdemeanor, but there are situations where it carries harsher penalties, such as the following:  

  • If you are charged with a second or subsequent indecent exposure offense (repeat offender), the charge will be increased to a felony (automatic felony indecent exposure) that carries a fine of up to $10,000 and up to three years in state prison for each offense.
  • If you commit indecent exposure in an inhabited home, trailer, or building or enter without permission for the purpose of indecent exposure, the case will be filed as aggravated indecent exposure, a wobbler that can be filed as a misdemeanor or felony case. 

What are Related Crimes? 

Several California laws are related to Penal Code 314 PC indecent exposure, meaning that they are frequently charged together and have similar elements of the crime that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Penal Code 288 PC - lewd acts with a minor child

Penal Code 288 PC - lewd acts with a minor child

PC 288 lewd acts with a minor occur when an adult engages in a sex act with a minor under 14 or a minor who is 14 or 15 and a minimum of ten years younger than the adult.

Depending on the ages of the victim and defendant, the case is a wobbler. A felony PC 288 carries a term in the state prison of three, six, or eight years or a fine of up to $10,000, or both fine and imprisonment.

Penal Code 647(a) PC - lewd conduct in public

This law makes it a crime to touch your own or another person's genitals, buttocks, or breasts in public for the purpose of sexual gratification or annoyance. It is also unlawful to publicly solicit lewd conduct from another. This is a misdemeanor offense.

Penal Code 602 - trespassing 

PC 602 trespassing occurs whenever a building or property is entered without the owner's permission. It's typically a misdemeanor, but it can charge along with PC 314 indecent exposure aggravate the sentence.

While trespassing is not a sex crime, prosecutors will use it as a subsequent charge of aggravated indecent exposure (inside a building) if they don't have sufficient proof that the defendant intended to expose themselves.  Sometimes, they might add a charge of Penal Code 459 burglary.

Penal Code 415 PC – disturbing the peace

PC 415 can be used to charge somebody when they behave in a loud, offensive, or belligerent manner in a public place. It's not directly related to PC 314 indecent exposure but is often used as a plea-bargaining tool for lesser charges.

What are the Best Defenses for PC 314 Indecent Exposure?

Suppose you were charged with violating Penal Code 314 PC indecent exposure law. In that case, our California sex crime lawyers can use different strategies for the best possible outcome, such as the following:

  • No sexual gratification intent.
  • Exposure of your genitals was not intentional,
  • Exposure was not in the presence of others,
  • There is insufficient evidence to prove guilt.
  • You were mistakenly identified.
  • The allegations are false.

Perhaps we can argue that you were not in a public place to be seen by others who could be offended. Maybe your genitals were partially clothed, or there was no intent for sexual gratification. 

Perhaps we can argue the allegations against you are false. Perhaps the accuser was motivated by anger or jealousy. Maybe we can say you are the victim of mistaken identity. Maybe the accuser made a mistake, or the alleged indecent exposure occurred in a dark place where the perpetrator's identity was partially obscured.

If there is any reasonable doubt about identity, you should be able to avoid a conviction. Contact us for more information and a free case review. The Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles, CA.

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