What You Need to Know About Indecent Exposure Laws in California
Throughout California, indecent exposure charges have been on the rise. In some situations, police officers bait individuals into sexual scenarios just to make an arrest. Although indecent exposure is usually intentional, individuals are often caught up in difficult situations where indecent exposure was accidental. Therefore, many people ask “What counts as indecent exposure?”. Here’s everything you need to know about indecent exposure laws in California.
According to California law, intentionally exposing your genitals to the public for sexual gratification or annoyance is considered to be indecent exposure. Therefore, accidentally exposing your genitals does not count as indecent exposure. Individuals who accidentally exposed their genitalia to the public are protected under California’s indecent exposure laws.
Legal Definition of Indecent Exposure
According to California Penal Code 314, indecent exposure is legally defined as willfully exposing your private parts or genitals to someone else with the purpose of sexually gratifying yourself or offending the other person.
In order for prosecutors to viably charge you with indecent exposure, three elements must be met:
- You purposely exposed your genitalia
- In the presence of an offended individual or group of persons
- AND that you exposed your genitalia for the purpose of
- Sexually gratifying yourself or someone else
- OR offending someone else
Therefore, individuals who accidentally exposed their genitals to the public are protected under California’s indecent exposure laws.
Examples of Indecent Exposure
Celine exposes her breasts in a restaurant in order to satisfy her boyfriend, Nathan. Because Celine willfully exposed herself, she can be charged with indecent exposure.
In order to sexually gratify himself, Jonny stands on a street corner wearing a robe and flashes his genitals at passing females. Because Jonny willfully exposed himself with the purpose of sexual gratification, he can be charged with indecent exposure.
Jake is swimming in the ocean when he is struck by a huge wave, which rips off his swim trunks. Embarrassed, Jake quickly walks naked to shore, which offends many people. Jake quickly covers himself with a towel. Because Jake did not willfully expose his genitals, he cannot be charged with indecent exposure.
Legal Penalties of Indecent Exposure in California
Although an indecent exposure conviction may be considered a lesser offense, its legal penalties are serious.
First time offenders are usually sentenced to six months in county jail and ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000. A second time offense can lead to a lengthy state prison sentence.
For many, the worst part of an indecent exposure charge is the minimum 10 years duty to register as California state sex offender.
Legal Defenses Against Indecent Exposure in California
If you have been charged with indecent exposure, your attorney can argue that
- Your genitals were never exposed
- You did not expose your genitals on purpose
- You were not aware that anyone was present or would be offended
- No one was present or offended
- You are a victim of mistaken identity
Contact Pride Legal
If you or a loved one has been accused of indecent exposure, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.