This is an interesting question because I see many people getting charged with indecent exposure, and it's for various reasons why they get charged. In other words, different factual scenarios can trigger an arrest for indecent exposure, and the prosecutors charge you. California Penal Code 314 defines the crime of indecent exposure.
I see one area when people engage in some sexual activity in public. Whether in their car or somewhere else and somebody sees them — maybe it's the police that sees them.
Perhaps another citizen sees them, and they call the police. The police roll up on them and catch them in the act of doing something in public that's sexually related, and the police end up arresting that person for indecent exposure.
Engaging in Sexual Activity in Public
I have one interesting case recently where my client was hooked up with somebody online and was in the car with them, and they both had their clothes off, and then the girl told my client that she did not want to have any further sexual contact with him, so he said, fine.
He put his clothes back on and took her to her car, which was the end of their encounter. But then the girl claimed that he was too aggressive with her and called the police and because it was so ridiculous, because all he did was try to make a move after they both agreed to take their clothes off, and once she said no, he stopped.
So, the unfortunate thing is, because the police couldn't charge him with any sexual battery or rape or anything like that because he stopped when she said stop, they decided that they were going to arrest him for indecent exposure because they were in a public parking lot.
The problem with the police doing that was that nobody else saw him with his clothes off. No testimony or evidence was presented that anybody could see anyway because they were in the back seat of the car.
So, how is that indecent exposure? That's pretty much the argument that I made to the judge, and the judge demanded the prosecutor before we even moved forward — because that's a misdemeanor, so you're not entitled to a preliminary hearing.
You can have a trial, but the judge is not going to their time with a problem here. What is your theory? How is it indecent exposure (CALCRIM 1160) if nobody else saw it? The girl was consensual.
She had her clothes off as well, and there's no testimony or evidence that someone could see it, then it's not indecent exposure. So, that's one scenario that I see happen all the time, where people are in a car in public somewhere, and they're engaging n some sexual activity.
Exposing Private Parts in Public
The other area that I see is people dressed scantily, whether it's a man or a woman, and you can see their private parts or see part of their private parts, and then the issue becomes — are these people doing this intentionally?
It's out in public. People can see, or is it just an accident. They had a clothes malfunction, and that's kind of what the debate centers around. Obviously, for the prosecutors, if they could get some photograph or video of how the person is dressed, they might show that to a jury to prove that, yes, this is an indecent exposure case.
The person is doing that intentionally. They want to expose themselves to the public because they get some sexual gratification from that, and then they'd be able to mount a pretty good case for indecent exposure.
On the flip side, if somebody is just dressed in some tight pants or even loose pants or a loose shirt and somehow somebody sees some genitalia or any private part on the other person, whether it be man or woman, and that person has a legitimate argument that it was just accidental. They could undoubtedly mount that argument and potentially be successful.
I've been handling these indecent exposure cases all over Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, all of the 38 courts in LA county so that I can help you. I know how to defend them. I know how to mitigate them.
I know how to negotiate with the judge, the prosecutor and get you the bests result.
Hedding Law Firm is a top-rated criminal defense law firm located in Los Angeles County. We defend clients throughout Southern California. We are located at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact our firm for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0979.