Indecent Exposure Laws in California – Penal Code 314 PC
It has been my experience over the past 25 years of handling indecent exposure cases in the Los Angeles courts that the prosecutors are willing to negotiate the actual charge to something less shameful and embarrassing if the defense attorney can give them the reasons to do so.
Hence, if you are charged with an indecent exposure case, your best bet is to hire an attorney who frequently appears in the court where your case is pending and has had success with these cases.
The only way to assess this is to sit down with the attorney and ask them. First, be honest with them about precisely what happened. Then, ask them what they believe you are facing based on their experience, your criminal record, and the facts and circumstances surrounding the current offense.
A good attorney will break everything down for you and give you a feel for what you are up against and your best strategy for success. In addition to protecting your record, you should also be mindful that in many cases of this nature, the prosecutors want the offender to register as a sex offender to keep tabs on them and make sure that they are not up to no good.
It is up to your attorney to make it very clear to the prosecutor that you are not a threat or danger to the community. Therefore this extreme measure is not necessary in your particular case. If the attorney is unwilling to stick up for their client's rights, no one else will!
I have seen attorneys bullied repeatedly by prosecutors who think they know everything about the client and believe the client is a menace.
Unfortunately, many times the police only tell a small portion of the story, and they slant the deck against the defendant. Only the savviest and battle-tested defense attorneys can turn the tide in their client's favor and achieve the appropriate result.
Finally, a person charged with this type of crime should also be aware that the prosecutors are usually looking to teach the person a lesson by putting them in jail to impress upon them the serious nature of being involved in this type of crime public offense.
However, there are many alternatives to jail that are available and can be utilized by an attorney that knows what they are doing and has the experience of fending off the prosecutor's attempts to exact a harsh punishment on their client.
Sometimes the defense attorney must go directly to the judge to ensure their client stays out of jail. In Los Angeles County, the judge controls the punishment, and the prosecutors handle the charges. Therefore, it is up to the defense attorney to deal with both forces to obtain a result their client can live with.
Many people view an Indecent exposure charge as a lesser sex crime, usually charged as a misdemeanor but can also be charged as a felony if you have prior convictions. If charged with a felony, you may face up to a year in county jail or state prison.
The problem with viewing this crime as a lesser offense is that you fail to realize how others that see the crime on your record might view you. I fight hard to avoid a conviction for an Indecent Exposure charge and try and get a more innocuous control for my clients so they do not have to live with the stigma this charge comes with.
What Is Indecent Exposure?
When I see indecent exposure cases, it's usually where someone is having sex in public, exposing private areas, meaning the penis, breasts, or vagina. Depending on the circumstances, you can be looking at a criminal record and in danger of possibly having to register as a sex offender sex offender, depending on the circumstances.
Another area where I see indecent exposure is people walking around in public with their genitals exposed. People often try to come up with the defense that they didn't do it on purpose; it was an accident. California Penal Code 314 defines the crime of indecent exposure.
Of course, the police get evidence and information to block any defenses in an indecent exposure case. The police, prosecutors, and judges do not like these cases, so you want to get to an attorney who has handled these cases for many years if you're charged with indecent exposure. You can protect your rights, freedom, liberty, and reputation.
Could I Be Charged With Indecent Exposure If I'm On My Property?
You can be charged if you are out in public, and people can see you with your private parts exposed. Suppose someone is in their fenced backyard, and their neighbor is spying on them. In that case, the prosecutors will have a tough time making an indecent exposure argument because that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in their yard.
If your yard is in plain sight, you may have a problem with indecent exposure. It depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the case. We're looking at what the defenses are for indecent exposure.
We're making an informed decision about whether you have a situation where you need to work out a plea bargain with the prosecutors or whether you have a defensible case. A lot of times, it's going to depend on reasonableness. If you were acting reasonably under the circumstances, you would have a strong defense.
What Are the Penalties if Convicted?
Indecent exposure falls under the umbrella of a sex crime. Anytime someone is charged with a sex crime, the most significant concerns are whether they have to register as a sex offender, whether they're going to face prison time, and whether they're going to get a conviction on their record.
If you are convicted of indecent exposure, you may face registering as a sex offender. You want to get an attorney who can argue to the judge and the prosecutor that whatever behavior you're being accused of is never going to happen again.
You're going to want to get character letters. Get information about your job, your family, and your good record in the past. It could help prevent a conviction and register as a sex offender. Your champion is, of course, your criminal defense attorney.
They will speak on your behalf to the judge, the prosecutor, or even a jury. If it's a situation where you have a defense to the crime, we lay out what the best defense strategies are, and we choose what works for your situation. Then, we execute the plan to get the result you must have.
How Can You Protect Your Record?
If you have a clean record, I could appreciate how terrifying it would be to know that you are charged with a sex-related offense and are facing all of the ramifications of that conviction.
One of the key goals that I try and pursue in these types of cases is to either convince the prosecutors and judge to give you a diversion program so that your record can be preserved or to give you a different charge that does not carry the same stigma and consequences that come along with an indecent exposure case.
If we can point out your version of events, come up with some character letters that show the good things about you, and make a solid argument that you are not a menace to society and should be given the benefit of the doubt. We are in a position to achieve a result that you can live with and give you back control of your life!
What Are the Laws?
California Jury Instruction CALCRIM 1160 is the applicable law that controls this particular crime. The elements that the prosecutors have to prove for an indecent exposure case are:
- The defendant willfully exposed their genitals / private area in the presence of another person and that the person would have been offended by the defendant's actions; and
- When the defendant did so, they acted lewdly and indirectly in public attention to sexually arousing or gratifying him or herself or another person.
The bottom line is that the judge and jury will look to see if the person charged with the crime of indecent exposure is meant to expose themselves under the circumstances attendant in the case.
Sometimes, this is a factual issue, and the jury must hear all of the evidence before making an intelligent decision on the case. This is where having the best possible attorney on your side is crucial to your success or failure in these types of cases.
When I meet with people, I ask my questions, gather the facts, and am typically able to give them an idea of their chances based on defending over 200 jury trials and seeing where the issues are decided in these types of cases.
The crime of indecent exposure can not be imposed simply for being naked in public. To prove indecent exposure, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you willfully exposed yourself in a lewd manner with the intent of offending, exciting, or annoying others.
There are many defenses to this crime that can be employed under the right circumstances. If a reason for Indecent Exposure is not available because of the facts of the case, then there is still the chance of negotiating a less serious charge with the judge or prosecutor.
Contact our Law Firm If Accused of Indecent Exposure
Being charged with a sex crime has life term consequences, such as the requirement of registering as a sex offender according to California Penal Code section 290. As defense attorneys, we do everything to build a strong case on your behalf.
Typically, if nobody sees you, you will be in a pretty good position not to get charged with indecent exposure. You could be charged if you are exposing yourself in public and it's being captured on video.
That could be a circumstance where the police and prosecutors believe that even though nobody saw you in person, your interests and thoughts are to expose yourself, and you want someone to see. Depending on what evidence the prosecutors have, they could make an argument that you still intentionally indecently expose yourself in public.
Our attorneys will be dedicated to your situation, and our goal as your advocate is to put these charges behind you and have you move forward with a clean record. We will do everything we can. Call us to set up your free consultation, and we will proceed from there.
Related Content: What to do if You're Charged with Indecent Exposure?