This is an interesting question because I see a lot of people getting charged with indecent exposure and it's for various reasons why they get charged. In other words, various factual scenarios can trigger an arrest for indecent exposure and the prosecutors charge you. California Penal Code 314 defines the crime of indecent exposure.
One area I see is when people are engaging in some sort of sexual activity in public. Whether it be in their car or somewhere else and somebody sees them — maybe it's the police that seems them.
Perhaps it's another citizen that sees them and they call the police and 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 and that 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 things is, because the police couldn't really charge him with any type of 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 and there was no testimony or evidence that 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 entitle to a preliminary hearing.
You can have a trial but the judge is not going to their time with a trial 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 definitely one scenario that I see happen all the time, where people are in a car in public somewhere and they're engaging n some sort of sexual activity.
Exposing Private Parts in Public
The other area that I see is people who are dressed scantily, whether it's a man or a woman, and you can see their private parts or you can see part of their private parts, and then the issue becomes — are these people doing this intentionally?
It's out in the 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, and obviously, for the prosecutors, if they could get some sort of photograph or video of how the person is dressed, then they might be able to show that to a jury to be able to prove that yes, this is an indecent exposure case.
The person is doing that intentionally because they want to expose themselves to the public because they get some sort of 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 sort of genitalia or any type of private part on the other person, whether it be man or woman, and that person has a legitimate argument that it was just accidental, then they could certainly 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 I can definitely 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.
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