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California Indecent Exposure Lawyer

Flashing your genitals or breasts can feel like fun and games, particularly if you are young. However, you need to understand that indecent exposure is a sex crime in California. It can be a felony offense, and even when it is not, it still requires sex offender registration.

To avoid a sex crime conviction and sex offender registration, you need to work with an experienced attorney. Call Silver Law Firm at (510) 995-0000 to speak with a sex crime lawyer about how to handle this situation.

Indecent Exposure in California

Per California Penal Code 314, you can be charged with indecent exposure if there is evidence you deliberately, and with the intent to be obscene or satisfy your sexual desires:

  • Exposed your private parts in a public place or any place where there are other people who would be annoyed or offended by your conduct
  • Obtained, counseled, or assisted another person in exposing themselves, taking part in an art installation, or exhibiting themselves to the public or many other people in a way that is offensive or intended to cause vicious or lewd thoughts or acts

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony.

Aggravated Indecent Exposure
You can be charged with aggravated indecent exposure if, without permission, you enter someone’s home, trailer, or any portion of a building where people live, and intentionally and lewdly display your private parts.

This offense is a wobbler, and the prosecution can choose whether to charge you with a misdemeanor or felony. In such a case, the judge can reduce the charge after a preliminary hearing, as well.

Which Exposed Body Parts Constitute Indecent ure?

For you to be charged with indecent exposure, you must have displayed one or more of your private parts. No matter your biological sex, this includes your genitals and anus. If you are genetically female, this also includes your breasts.

Revealing your underwear is not indecent exposure. If your genitals or buttocks were covered by any type of undergarment, then you are unlikely to be charged with this offense. If you are charged, you have a defense. The same factor is true for your breasts. If they were covered by a bra, swimsuit, or other article of clothing, then you have a strong defense against indecent exposure.

Common Examples of Indecent Exposure
You can be charged with exposure for a variety of actions, including:

  • “Mooning” others by exposing your buttocks.
  • “Flashing” others by briefly exposing your breasts and nipples.
  • Displaying your penis to one or more other individuals without consent.
  • Encouraging or paying another person to moon or flash others.
  • Masturbating in a public place.
  • Urinating in public where you know others will see you.

It is important to note that a mother breastfeeding her child is not considered indecent exposure under California law. Per California Civil Code Section 43.3, mothers are permitted to breastfeed their children in any public or private location, except the home of another person, where the mother and her baby have permission to be present.

Prosecutors Must Prove Intent

For prosecutors to prove you committed indecent exposure beyond a reasonable doubt, they must establish that your actions were willful and lewd. It must be proven that you were aware of what you are doing, and were doing so freely.

If you can establish the exposure of your private parts was accidental or caused by someone else, then you have a defense that casts doubt on the prosecutor’s claim.

The prosecutors must also prove the action was performed lewdly. This could mean an act was performed for sexual purposes. It could also mean the act was intended to be vulgar or obscene, even if not entirely sexual. This broad definition of lewd is why you can be charged whether or not your alleged conduct was for your own sexual gratification.

Indecent Exposure Can Be a Misdemeanor or Felony

A first-time charge of indecent exposure is a misdemeanor. You can be jailed for up to six months and fined. However, if you were previously convicted of indecent exposure to a minor, then your second or subsequent indecent exposure charge is automatically a felony, which can lead to incarceration in prison for multiple years and high fines.

Aggravated indecent exposure is known as a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the facts of the case. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you face up to one year in jail. For felony aggravated indecent exposure, you could be penalized with up to three years in prison and fines reaching $10,000.

Is Indecent Exposure a Sex Offender Crime?

Indecent exposure is considered a sex crime in California. If you are convicted, you will be forced to register as a sex offender. The law requires you to register as a sex offender for at least 10 years. It is important to note that this registration requirement doesn’t kick in until 2021.

If you fail to originally register when you are required to, or you fail to properly reregister with local authorities, you will be charged with a crime. Failure to register as a sex offender is the same level of offense as the underlying crime. If you were charged with misdemeanor indecent exposure, failure to register will be a misdemeanor. If your original offense was a felony, you will face another felony.

An Attorney Will Defend Against Indecent Exposure Accusations

There are a number of potential defenses to an indecent exposure case, such as:

Mistaken Identity
If a witness to indecent exposure did not get a clear look at the offender’s face, they can accidentally identify you as the individual who exposed themselves. If the police have the wrong person, your attorney will fight to establish that there has been a mistake of identity.

Lack of Intent
Just because another person saw your private parts does not mean the incident was intentional or that your action was intended to gratify yourself or offend someone else. If you lacked the necessary intent for the offense, your attorney will explain why the situation arose and why it was not intended to be offensive or sexual in nature.

An Accident
To be convicted of indecent exposure, you need to have intentionally exposed yourself. An accident is not a crime. If you tripped and your skirt came up, exposing your buttocks, the incident is not your fault.

Insufficient Evidence
Prosecutors sometimes move forward with charges despite weak or minimal evidence. For example, say someone claimed they saw you masturbating behind a building, yet the truth is it was night time and they were 50 feet away. That witness could think they saw something that actually did not occur.

Silver Law Firm Can Help

There is no way to know the most appropriate defense for your case until you speak with a lawyer. By hiring legal counsel, you obtain the knowledge, skills, and resources you need to fully address these accusations and aggressively defend yourself in court.

Attorney Elliot Silver is prepared to take on you case. He has years of experience defending individuals against sex crime accusations. He understands that many of these cases arise because mistakes, exaggerations, and lies.

Contact Silver Law Firm at (510) 995-0000 to schedule an initial consultation.