CA Penal Code 314

Indecent Exposure

In California, the act of willfully exposing your genitals to somebody else in a public place in order to sexually gratify yourself is called indecent exposure. In order to be convicted of indecent exposure the prosecutor must prove the elements of the crime:

  1. That you willfully exposed your genitals
  2. That you were in the presence of someone who might be offended or annoyed by that action
  3. That you intended to direct public attention to your genitals for the purpose of
    • Sexually gratifying yourself or someone else, or
    • Sexually offending someone else

If the prosecution can prove these three elements of the crime then you will be charged with CA Penal Code 314[1]. Like all sex crimes in California, indecent exposure is handled strictly and the punishments can be harsh.

If you are a first-time offender of CA Penal Code 314 then you will most likely be charged with a misdemeanor and will face:

  • Up to six months in county jail
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  •  Forced to register as a sex offender for life, in accordance to CA Penal Code 290

There is another form of indecent exposure known as “Aggravated” indecent exposure that requires that you expose yourself in an inhabited home, trailer, or building without permission. This variation of indecent exposure is a wobbler, meaning it can be tried as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The details of the crime and your criminal record are the deciding factors in determining how the prosecutor will charge.

If you are charged with a misdemeanor aggravated indecent exposure the sentencing is the same as mentioned above, however, your county jail sentence will be up to 1-year.

If you are charged with a felony aggravated indecent exposure the sentencing will be as follows:

  • Up to three years in state prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Forced to register as a sex offender for life, in accordance to CA Penal Code 290

If you are a repeat offender of CA Penal Code 314, either aggravated or not you will be charged with a felony and will face the same sentencing as mentioned above.

Prosecuting Indecent Exposure

As previously mentioned, in order to be convicted of CA Penal Code 314 the prosecutor must prove the three elements of the crime:

  1. That you willfully exposed your genitals
  2. That you were in the presence of someone who might be offended or annoyed by that action
  3. That you intended to direct public attention to your genitals for the purpose of
    • Sexually gratifying yourself or someone else, or
    • Sexually offending someone else

If the prosecution cannot prove these three elements of the crime then you will not be convicted of indecent exposure.

The first element of the crime is that you willfully exposed your genitals; the law defines willfully as deliberately or on purpose. This means that the act of exposing your genitals cannot be an accident. For example, maybe you were at the beach and you were changing from your jeans into your swim shorts and your towel accidentally dropped during the act. Under these circumstances you cannot be charged with indecent exposure. In order to be convicted of indecent exposure the prosecutor must prove that the act was willful.

The second element of the crime requires that you were in the presence of someone who might be offended or annoyed by the action. This means that you simply need to perform the action in public in front of an audience. This is the easiest element of the crime for the prosecutor to prove because it can be assumed that the majority of people would be annoyed or offended by the act.

The third element of the crime is that you intended to direct public attention to your genitals. This element only requires that you did not accidentally show your genitals, an example of this would be a woman who flashes her breasts to sexually arouse a group of people. The prosecutor must prove that you performed the action to draw attention to yourself, and it was not performed on your own accord in what you thought was a private place.

The final elements of the crime state that the action must be performed to sexually gratify yourself or someone else. This simply means that the prosecution must be sexually driven. The prosecutor must prove that the act was lewd in nature in order to be convicted for indecent exposure.

If the prosecution cannot prove these three elements of the crime then you will not be convicted for indecent exposure.

Defending Indecent Exposure

Luckily there are a myriad of defenses that a skilled criminal defense attorney can utilize to prove your innocence. The most common legal defense for indecent exposure is lack of evidence. In order for the prosecution to prove that you are guilty of indecent exposure they need to prove a lot of facts and if they cannot prove all of these facts then you will not be found guilty. It then becomes the issue of your criminal defense attorney to point out the shortcomings of the prosecutors claims to prove your innocence. This can be accomplished by proving that you did not act lewdly or that you did not willfully expose your genitals.

Because of the nature of the crime and its ties with other sex crimes it is not uncommon for a sex offender to be wrongfully accused of indecent exposure. Due to the fact that sex offenders have to make their address public it is unfortunate, yet common for people to make false accusations about their behavior.

Another approach your attorney can take is proving that you are not the perpetrator who is accused of the crime. Your attorney can contact witnesses and access records to prove that were not at the location where the incident occurred.

These are just a few common approaches that skilled criminal defense attorneys take when their client is being charged with indecent exposure, but every case is different and requires a unique approach to proving your innocence. Being convicted of indecent exposure can have a multitude of negative impacts on your life, namely having to register as a sex offender for the entirety of your life. If you or a loved one is facing a CA Penal Code 314 charge then it’s imperative for you to contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. Seppi Esfandi is a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law, meaning he has experience defending criminals of all sorts, including indecent exposure. Call us today for a FREE case evaluation at (310) 274-6529.

 

References

[1] 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 for 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 1of 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.

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