Indecent Exposure Laws in California

Indecent exposure carries very serious lifelong consequences in California. If you are charged with indecent exposure, do not just go into court and plead guilty. Before making any decisions as to how to handle your case, call the Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg for a free consultation with a sex crime attorney to discuss your options. A conviction on a first offense may not lead to jail time, but it will lead to a lifetime obligation to register as a sex offender. If you or a loved one are accused of indecent exposure in violation of Penal Code 314, it is essential that you understand what you are facing and the consequences.

California Penal Code 314

Indecent exposure can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If you have never been convicted for indecent exposure in the past, it is a misdemeanor unless it occurred inside an inhabited dwelling. It may be a filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony if the offense occurred inside an inhabited dwelling, such as a house or apartment, that you entered without permission. Indecent exposure is a felony if you have a prior conviction for indecent exposure or for engaging in lewd acts with a minor.

In order to prove that you are guilty of indecent exposure according to Penal Code 314, the prosecution must prove the following:

1) You purposefully exposed your genitals. You would not be guilty of the charge if it was an accident. If you left the zipper of your pants open by mistake, for instance, you would not have exposed your genitals purposefully.

2) You exposed your genitals in a public area or in the presence of one or more people who might have been offended or annoyed. The prosecutor does not have to prove that the other person or people actually saw your genitals, or that they were in fact offended or annoyed.

3)At the time that your genitals were exposed, you intended to attract the attention of others for the purpose of sexually gratifying or arousing yourself or another person, or for the purpose of offending someone else.

The key element for the prosecution to prove is usually that the person exposed himself or herself for the purpose of sexual arousal or to offend another person.

Indecent Exposure in an Inhabited Dwelling

If you are charged with indecent exposure inside an inhabited dwelling, the prosecutor will also have to prove that you entered someone’s place of residence without his or her permission. If you had permission to enter, your attorney could challenge this element of the offense and could argue that a felony charged under this section should be reduced to a misdemeanor. Alternatively, if the incident occurred in a house where no one resides, your attorney can argue that this would not qualify as an inhabited dwelling. You should consult with your attorney if you are charged with indecent exposure in an inhabited dwelling because you may also be charged with residential burglary.

Prior Convictions

Indecent exposure is a felony if you have a prior conviction for indecent exposure or for engaging in lewd acts with a minor.

Sex Offender Registration

Conviction of indecent exposure as a misdemeanor or felony will require you to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life under Penal Code Section 290. You will be required to register at a local police station each year. This is a burdensome requirement and can result in public humiliation. Your neighbors can find out, for example, that you are a registered sex offender. Renting an apartment or obtaining a job can be quite difficult as a registered sex offender. If you fail to register each year, you can be charged with a new criminal offense for failing to register and will be subject to additional penalties, including the possibility of state prison time. You should consult with your attorney immediately to discuss strategies for resolving your case in a way that will not require you to register as a sex offender.

Local Courthouse Experience

Although less frequent than it used to be, police still arrest people in locations that are believed to be high traffic areas for prostitution (certain restrooms, areas in public parks, etc.). This is especially common in areas where people are believed to gravitate for homosexual encounters. In some courthouses, prosecutors are reluctant to file these cases as it can be perceived as bias against the LGBT community. However, in other courthouses, prosecutors do not share these concerns. This is why it is essential to consult a criminal defense attorney with local knowledge of the court in which your case is prosecuted.

If you or a loved one have been convicted of indecent exposure in Los Angeles County or anywhere in California, do not hesitate to call The Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg at (310) 210-0744 consultation.