Indecent exposure is considered a sex crime under California law and it carries criminal penalties similar to many other much more serious sex crime offenses, including rape and sexual battery. Sadly, many people who innocently or accidentally expose themselves in public are charged with – and convicted of – indecent exposure, and as a result, are forced to register with the state of California as sex offenders for no less than ten years. If you are facing criminal charges for indecent exposure in Los Angeles, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. You could face harsh penalties if you are convicted of indecent exposure, including jail time and mandatory sex offender registration for a minimum of 10 years, which can severely limit the areas in which you are permitted to live, work and spend time. Contact our knowledgeable defense attorneys at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today to improve your chances of reaching a favorable conclusion to your case.
Affordable Indecent Exposure Attorney in Los Angeles
Being arrested for indecent exposure, even if you are cleared of the charges, carries a social stigma that can affect the rest of your life, possibly destroying your personal relationships, your standing in the community and any future employment opportunities. Fortunately, with the help of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, it is possible to fight charges of California indecent exposure and build an effective defense against the criminal charges. Our attorneys at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles understand what strategies the prosecution will use to build a case against you and will fight to have your charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense that doesn’t carry the same social stigma and legal ramifications as an indecent exposure conviction. We will investigate the circumstances of your case, interview witnesses, run background checks and collect any other evidence pertaining to your case that could cast doubt on your guilt.
Under California law, it is a crime to intentionally expose your genitals in public with the intention of offending another person or for the purpose of sexual gratification, for yourself or someone else. Most people think of this crime as someone intentionally engaging in a lewd and lascivious act, such as public masturbation, but the definition of indecent exposure is vague and can include any number of public acts, including engaging in consensual sexual behavior in public or in view of the public. In fact, you can be charged with California indecent exposure even if no one actually sees your genitals or private body parts. The fact that you intended people to see, and took steps to direct attention towards your act, is enough to result in a charge of indecent exposure. Furthermore, if you follow another person into a dwelling or home without permission and expose yourself, you could be charged with aggravated indecent exposure, which is prosecuted as a felony offense and therefore carries much more serious penalties.
Conviction for Indecent Exposure Penal Code § 314
Sadly, the way the criminal justice system works means you could be charged with – and convicted of – indecent exposure and suffer the associated penalties, even if you never exposed yourself, or you were unaware that anyone else was present who would be offended by your actions. That is where a criminal defense attorney comes in. In criminal cases involves sex crimes like indecent exposure, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. This means that the prosecutor is required to prove each element of the criminal offense in order to get a conviction. There are three main elements to the crime of indecent exposure, and in order for a California prosecutor to find you guilty of this criminal offense, he or she must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each of the following elements:
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- That you willfully exposed your genitals in public;
- That you did so in the presence of another person who may be annoyed or offended by the act; and
- That your intent was to offend the other person or to sexually gratify yourself or another person.
An example of a situation that would not warrant criminal charges is if the wind blows up a woman’s skirt, exposing her to other people on the street. Since the woman had no control over the wind and did not willfully or intentionally pull up her skirt to expose herself to the people around her, she cannot be convicted on charges of indecent exposure. Another common example of a woman innocently exposing herself is the act of breastfeeding in public. Even if her bare breast is exposed, a woman breastfeeding her child in view of the public cannot be charged with indecent exposure, as the intent of the exposure is not for sexual gratification or to offend another person.
Penalties for an Indecent Exposure Conviction
Under California Penal Code § 314, indecent exposure is when an individual “exposes their 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…is offensive to decency, or is adapted to excite to vicious or lewd thoughts or acts.” In the state of California, the crime of indecent exposure is a “wobbler,” which means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. Most first-time indecent exposure offenders in Los Angeles will be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by six months to one year in county jail and/or up to $1,000, plus a requirement to register with the state of California as a sex offender.
Subsequent or aggravated indecent exposure offenses may be charged as felonies, punishable by 16 months, two or three years in state prison and/or up to $10,000, plus a requirement to register as a sex offender. The same is true for defendants who have prior convictions of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child or other California sex crimes. In some cases, an indecent exposure conviction could also adversely impact your child custody and/or visitation rights, or result in court-ordered sex offender counseling and/or mandatory community service.
Defenses to Indecent Exposure
When facing criminal charges for indecent exposure or another misdemeanor or felony offense, it is your Constitutional right to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent your case. Just because you have been arrested for or charged with indecent exposure, doesn’t mean you are guilty of the crime, and having an experienced defense lawyer on your side can significantly improve your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your case, including having your charges reduced to a lesser offense or dropped altogether. For example, a criminal defense attorney may be able to use the following defenses to explain or justify your alleged behavior:
- You have been falsely accused
- You are a victim of mistaken identity
- You did not intend to expose yourself to others
- You did not intend to sexually gratify yourself or another person
- The exposure did not involve a private body part
- Your Constitutional rights were violated
Intent is a key element in California indecent exposure cases. Indecent exposure is a crime of specific intent, which means you must have been acting intentionally in exposing yourself for the indecent exposure charge to stick. If the prosecution is unable to prove that you intentionally exposed yourself to another person to offend them or for the purpose of sexual gratification, you cannot be found guilty of indecent exposure under California Penal Code § 314 PC. For instance, if you had a reasonable expectation of privacy while conducting an otherwise legal act, you cannot legally be convicted of indecent exposure. Alternatively, if your public nudity was part of an artistic performance or form of expression, you may be able to call on the First Amendment right to freedom of speech in defense of your actions.
Hiring an Experienced Indecent Exposure Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
Although a misdemeanor or felony indecent exposure conviction can carry a county jail or state prison sentence, serving time for this crime could be the least of your worries. Perhaps the most devastating consequence of a California indecent exposure conviction is the fact that even a minor offense under Penal Code § 314 can put you under the California sex offender registry, which requires you to register as a sex offender for a minimum of 10 years or for the rest of your life, depending on the nature and severity of your alleged crime. Mandatory sex offender registration can severely impact your ability to find suitable work and housing, and could even dictate where you are allowed to spend your free time. If you or a loved one is facing indecent exposure charges in Los Angeles, don’t hesitate to protect your legal rights. Contact our experienced sex crime defense lawyers at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today to discuss the best strategy to defend yourself against these criminal charges.