7 Things You Must Know About Indecent Exposure Laws

California Penal Code Section 314

Indecent exposure is when a person exposes his person, or the private parts thereof, in any public place where other people are present and could be offended.

Being charged with this crime requires mandatory registration as a sex offender.

And today I am going to explain to you how to avoid mandatory sex offender registration.

In fact:

I have never had a client found guilty or plead to violating penal code 314 PC:

Watch the full video to see how.

In This Guide We’ll Cover:

How Does Penal Code 314 PC Define Indecent Exposure?

California Penal Code Section 314 — California’s law on indecent exposure defines the offense as willful exposure of one’s genitals to another person, for the purpose of either gratifying oneself or offending the other person.

What Is An Example Of Indecent Exposure?

A man walking through the park opens his coat and exposed his genitals to women walking through the park while also gratifying himself.

How Does The Prosecutor Prove Indecent Exposure Charges?

To prove that you are guilty of “indecent exposure,” the prosecutor has to prove the following facts or elements1:

  1. The defendant willfully exposed his/her genitals in the presence of another person or persons.
  2. The person or persons might be offended or annoyed by the defendant’s actions2; and,
  3. The exposure cannot be accidental. It has to be willful or intentional.
Example Of Accidental Exposure

A woman was walking down a Halloween parade when her costume fell down, exposing her to parade goers.

The woman fixed her costume right away.

Because the exposure was only accidental rather than willful or intentional, it is not indecent exposure.

How Does The Law Define Genitals?

Exposure must be of one’s bare genital parts.  If you exposed your underwear, this does not qualify as indecent exposure.

Do The Genitals Need To Be Touched To be Considered Indecent Exposure?

The genitals need not actually be touched to violate penal code 3143.

Is A Woman Walking Topless Down The Street Considered Indecent Exposure?

Exposure of bare, female breasts does not qualify, whether it was done for sexual gratification or for a non-sexual reason such as breastfeeding4.

What If You Exposed Yourself In Public But Nobody Was There?

Exposure must occur in the presence of at least one other person who may be annoyed or offended by the exposure.

Exposing yourself even in a public place when no one is around does not constitute indecent exposure5.

If You Exposed Yourself But The Person Closed Their Eyes Is That Still Indecent Exposure?

When the defendant exposed himself/herself, he/she acted lewdly by 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.

It is not required that another person actually see the exposed genitals.  Must Expose to Other Person But Other Person Need Not View. People v. Carbajal (2003) 114 Cal.App.4th 978, 986 [8 Cal.Rptr.3d 206].

Penalties, Punishment and Sentencing Guidelines For Penal Code 314 PC

Depending on the circumstances and on your criminal record, indecent exposure can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

If you are convicted of “indecent exposure” pursuant to California Penal Code Section 314, you face the following penalties:

Penalties 1st Offense 2nd Offense
Charge Misdemeanor Felony
Fine  Up to $1,000  Up To $1,000
Jail Up to 6 months county jail Possible State Prison6
Sex Offender Registration Yes Yes

If Convicted Of Indecent Exposure Do You Have To Register As A Sex Offender?

Yes, you must register as a sex offender if convicted of indecent exposure for both a misdemenor or a felony conviction.

How You Can Fight Indecent Exposure Charges?

The most common defenses used to defend against “indecent exposure” charges are below:

Your Defense Is You Exposed Yourself Accidentally

As mentioned earlier, if the exposure was not willful or intentional, it does not constitute indecent exposure.

If you accidentally exposed yourself in public, you did not commit the offense.

You Were Mistakenly Identified

You could easily become a victim of mistaken identity in a situation where the perpetrator’s face was not seen well if it was dark or if he/she was wearing a mask.

A criminal defense attorney will try to convince the court that you were not the perpetrator, especially in a situation where the incident took place in a dark alley or where the perpetrator’s identity was intentionally hidden.

There Is Insufficient Evidence

If there is insufficient evidence for a prosecutor to show that you in fact committed the crime of indecent exposure, you cannot be convicted of the crime.

Examples:
  • It was too dark for the victim to clearly identify the perpetrator
  • You did expose your genitals but in a secluded area where no one was around to be offended by your act
  • Your intent was neither to gratify yourself nor to offend anyone

Potential Plea Options

A good plea deal would include a plea reduction to a charge of lewd coduct.

Watch this video to understand why we negotiate indecent exposure charges down to lewd conduct.

What Is Lewd Conduct?

Pursuant to Penal Code Section 647(a), if anyone solicits another person to engage in lewd conduct in any public place or in any place open to the public or exposed to public view, he/she can be charged with this offense.

An example of lewd conduct would be sexual intercourse on a public beach.

What Is The Legal Difference Between Indecent Exposure And Lewd Conduct?

The difference between “indecent exposure” and “lewd conduct in public” is the requirement in the latter offense that the perpetrator actually touches him/herself or another person in public with sexual intent.

The benefit of a lewd conduct plea deal is the ability to avoid sex offender registration.

Says attorney Diana Aizman

Next Steps

If you have been arrested and would like to learn more about what attorneys charge.

If you want to understand why its important to have an attorney represent you.

If you are ready to discuss a pending case with an attorney contact the Aizman Law Firm at 818-351-9555 for a free confidential consultation.

Get Legal Help Now

Request A Free Consultation 818-351-9555 

Footnotes

  1. California Penal Code Section 314: California’s Penal Code Section 314: Every person who willfully and lewdly, either: 1. 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, 2. 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, is guilty of a misdemeanor.  Every person who violates subdivision 1 of this section after having entered, without consent, an inhabited dwelling house, or trailer coach as defined in Section 635 of the Vehicle Code, or the inhabited portion of any other building, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison, or in the county jail not exceeding one year.  Upon the second and each subsequent conviction under subdivision 1 of this section, or upon a first conviction under subdivision 1 of this section after a previous conviction under Section 288, every person so convicted is guilty of a felony, and is punishable by imprisonment in state prison., California Law []
  2. Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose.  It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage.  Exposing Person Must Have Intent to Expose Genitals.  People v. Massicot (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 920, 926–928 [118 Cal.Rptr.2d 705]. []
  3. Lewd Intent Does Not Require That Genitals Be Touched. People v. Rehmeyer (1993) 19 Cal.App.4th 1758, 1766 [24 Cal.Rptr.2d 321]; see People v. Meeker (1989) 208 Cal.App.3d 358, 362 [256 Cal.Rptr. 79] []
  4. “Private Parts” Means Genitals. People v. Massicot (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 920, 925, fn. 3 [118 Cal.Rptr.2d 705]; see In re Smith (1972) 7 Cal.3d 362, 366 [102 Cal.Rptr. 335, 497 P.2d 807 []
  5. Affront Must Be Sexual. In re Dallas W. (2000) 85 Cal.App.4th 937, 939 [102 Cal.Rptr.2d 493]; People v. Archer (2002) 98 Cal.App.4th 402, 406 [119 Cal.Rptr.2d 783] [“sexual affront” means to sexually insult or offend another person] []
  6. Penal Code 314.2 – Upon the second and each subsequent conviction under subdivision 1 of this section, or upon a first conviction under subdivision 1 of this section after a previous conviction under Section 288, every person so convicted is guilty of a felony, and is punishable by imprisonment in state prison. California Law []