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Will I Go to Jail if Charged with Indecent Exposure?

California Penal Code 314 PC describes the crime of indecent exposure as willfully exposing your private parts in a public place in the presence of someone else who could be annoyed or offended.

This unlawful conduct has to be done where you had specific intent to draw the public's attention to your genitals for sexual gratification or to offend another person.

In other words, “intent” is the most crucial element of the crime in a Penal Code 314 PC offense. In most cases, indecent exposure is:

  • a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to one year in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000;
  • a second violation could be filed as a felony crime punishable by up to three years in a California state prison.

A conviction for PC 314 indecent exposure means you will be required to register as a Tier one California sex offender. Our Los Angeles sex crime lawyers review the law below for more information.

Elements of the Crime for PC 314 Indecent Exposure

Any alleged violation of Penal Code 314 PC must be willful, meaning an unintentional exposure of your genitals in public is prosecuted under the law.

The prosecutor will have to prove several factors to obtain a conviction, which are called the elements of the crime:

  • you willfully and knowingly exposed your genitals in a public place,
  • your conduct was in the presence of another person who might be annoyed or offended,
  • you intended to draw public attention to your genitals for sexual gratification or sexually offend someone.

The genitals must be either male or female fully exposed, not other naked body parts. Female breasts don't qualify for prosecution.

In the presence of another person 

Your genitals have to be exposed in a public place in the presence of somebody who could be offended.

Will I Go to Jail if Charged with Indecent Exposure in California?
PC 314 indecent exposure is willfully exposing private parts in public in someone's presence to draw attention.

This could be subjective, but it can be proven if a reasonable person in the same position would have been annoyed.

Intent to direct public attention 

It must be shown you had intended to draw public attention to your genitals.

Simple exposure is not sufficient to be convicted of PC 314 indecent exposure. The act must be done in a way that draws public attention.

Further, it has to be shown that you exposed your genitals for sexual gratification.

Related California crimes for indecent exposure

Punishments for a Penal Code 314 PC Conviction

The penalties for a first-time misdemeanor conviction for PC include the following:

  • up to six months in county jail,
  • a maximum fine of $1,000,
  • 10-year minimum registration as a PC 290 sex offender.

You could face aggravated felony PC 314 indecent exposure charges. You exposed yourself to an inhabited dwelling place and entered without permission. 

If convicted of a felony indecent exposure, the punishments include:

  • up to three years in a California state prison,
  • a maximum fine of $10,000,
  • mandatory registration as a sex offender.

What Factors Are Prosecutors Looking at to Determine Jail Time?

Indecent exposure is a common crime, and many people face time in custody if they get convicted of this type of offense. 

The reason why is because if you've got a criminal record and it involves this type of behavior, this is the type of stuff that prosecutors want to punish somebody by putting them in custody.

Punishments for a Penal Code 314 PC Indecent Exposure Conviction
Exposing yourself to a minor for sexual gratification will likely result in receiving a jail sentence.

Also, suppose the indecent exposure involves you exposing yourself to a minor. In that case, this is another scenario where prosecutors will try to punish you severely, so you don't engage in this type of behavior.

So, you see already the two most significant areas where you're looking at jail time or prison time related to indecent exposure:

  • involving children, or
  • involves you having a prior criminal record.

If you have a clean record -- you've never been in trouble before -- indeed, that puts you in a much stronger position to stay out of custody. 

Also, if you're charged with a misdemeanor crime related to some indecent exposure activity, you've got a much better chance to stay out of custody. 

Common Defenses for Indecent Exposure

What we do in these cases is, first, we'll look to see if we can defend the case.  A common defense to indecent exposure is that you accidentally exposed yourself and didn't realize you were doing it, which can come up differently.

Also, I did have a case where there was a claim of indecent exposure because a woman had claimed that she was in the car with my client and that he had exposed himself to her, but they were engaged in some sexual activity.

So, she certainly couldn't be the person who saw the indecent exposure, and nobody else in the parking lot saw it, so that charge ended up getting dismissed.  Somebody has to see the indecent exposure. 

Sometimes it's law enforcement coming upon somebody in a car engaged in some sexual activity; they shine their lights; they see the person's private parts. 

Now they've got an argument that it's indecent exposure.  Other times, some witness sees a separate direction themselves, and now the witness call the police, and the police come in and take their statement. That's another argument they can use to attempt to get somebody for indecent exposure.

Criminal Defense for Indecent Exposure Cases

So, if you or a loved one is charged with PC 314 indecent exposure, you must get to an attorney right away.  I've been handling these cases for approximately 27 years as a criminal defense attorney.

Criminal Defense for Indecent Exposure Cases
Contact our law firm to learn how we can help you.

I have a pretty good view of how these cases are handled and get the best results for my client.

If you have no record and you have the argument this was an accident, that certainly puts you in a solid position to either get the case dismissed, get some diversion, or avoid jail time.

If, on the other hand, it's pretty clear that you intentionally exposed yourself, and they've got the evidence, and you have a criminal record that involves this type of behavior. You'll want to do everything you can to stay out of custody, especially with health concerns because of the Coronavirus.

Further, nobody wants to be taken into custody for an indecent exposure charge when you've got bills to pay, a job, etc.

So, you've come to the right place.  Take the first step. Pick up the phone. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I've had great success with these indecent exposure cases throughout Los Angeles County and the San Fernando Valley.

I've been practicing for a long time and have handled hundreds of cases just like yours. I stand at the ready to help you.

Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact our office for a free consultation at (213) 542-0979.

Related Content: What to do if You're Charged with Indecent Exposure?

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