Indecent Exposure: A Moment’s Indiscretion with Lifetime Consequences
What is Indecent Exposure?
The definition for Indecent exposure is provided in Penal Code section 314, which makes it illegal for any person to “willfully and lewdly” either:
- 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,
- 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.
This definition is broad enough to provide a basis for arrest any time a person is reported to the police for exposing themselves, even when it is for an innocuous reason (an extremely intoxicated person urinating outside, a homeless person changing clothes in a public restroom, etc.)
To sustain an actual conviction for this charge, the prosecuting attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that he exposure was done “lewdly.”
Acting “lewdly” was defined by the California Supreme Court in In re Smith (1972) 7 Cal.3d 362, 365–366, as “intending to direct public attention to (his/her) genitals for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying (himself/herself) or another person, or sexually offending another person.”
Therefore, Indecent Exposure is a type of crime known as “Specific Intent” meaning that to sustain a conviction, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the specific intent described above. This is a high burden, and not every person arrested for indecent exposure should be or can be convicted of the crime.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Even though Penal Code section 314 is typically a misdemeanor (it is prosecuted as a felony if you have a prior conviction for an earlier section 314 or section 288 of the Penal Code) you may still face sex registration consequences.
Penal Code section 314:
Misdemeanor conviction – 1-year county jail max, 10-year sex registration (See PC section 290), $1,000 fine.
Penal Code section 314:
felony conviction – 3 years state prison max, lifetime sex registration (See Penal Code section 290)
What should I do if I am charged with Indecent Exposure?
You should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney, like those at Manshoory Law Group, APC to assist you in analyzing the specific facts of your case, preparing and presenting defenses before and during trial, and making sure you understand your rights and helping you enforce them. The risks of an Indecent Exposure conviction are too great to go-it alone. Call now for a free consultation. Our attorneys are ready to help. (877) 977-7750.