California Indecent Exposure Laws

California’s indecent exposure law is covered under California Penal Code § 314 PC. Under this statute, it is illegal to willfully expose your naked body or genitals in a public place or anywhere else where someone might be offended or annoyed by it.

A first-time indecent exposure offense is typically a misdemeanor in Oakland. However, suppose you expose yourself in an inhabited home or building that you entered without permission. In that case, you may be convicted of aggravated indecent exposure, which can be a gross misdemeanor or even a felony charge.

Additionally, if you have prior indecent exposure convictions or a prior conviction for other lewd acts, then you may be charged with a felony.

Elements of an Indecent Exposure Charge

There are three main elements of indecent exposure that the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to get a conviction.

You willfully exposed your naked body or genitals.

First, the prosecution must prove that you willfully exposed your naked body or genitals to another person. Exposing underwear (no matter how revealing) or female breasts does not meet this required element.

Willful exposure involves intent. You must intend to draw attention to yourself or intend to offend someone else for it to be considered indecent exposure.

Someone was offended or annoyed by your actions.

Second, the prosecution must show that the person or people who saw your naked body or genitals was offended or annoyed. This often requires testimony by witnesses. In some cases, those witnesses decide not to cooperate with the prosecution. If that happens, your case may be dismissed.

You intended to direct public attention to your genitals or naked body.

Third, the prosecution must prove that you wanted to direct public attention to your genitals or naked body to sexually gratify yourself or someone else or to sexually offend someone else.

It’s important to note that if you exposed yourself in a secluded area that was not “public,” then you would not meet the required element to be convicted. For example, if you were behind a bush in a park where you did not think other people could see you, then that would not meet the definition of indecent exposure.

Possible Related Charges

Some possible criminal charges that you might face in California that are related to or similar to indecent exposure include:

  • Failure to Register as a Sex Offender – Under California Penal Code § 290 PC, it is illegal to fail to register as a sex offender if you have been ordered to by the Court. You may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony for this crime.
  • Lewd Conduct in Public – Under California Penal Code § 647(a) PC, it is illegal to touch your own or another person’s genitals, buttocks, or female breasts for sexual gratification when you know or should know other people are present and would be offended by the act.
  • Lewd Acts with a Minor Child – Under California Penal Code § 288 PC, it is illegal to touch any child under the age of 14 for sexual purposes. This crime is also called “child molestation,” and generally prohibits lewd and lascivious acts with a child.

Penalties for Indecent Exposure Conviction in Oakland

Penalties for indecent exposure depend on whether you have prior lewd sex crime convictions and where the incident occurred.

First-Time Indecent Exposure

A first-time indecent exposure conviction is typically a misdemeanor, which can result in up to six months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Aggravated Indecent Exposure

Aggravated indecent exposure, which involves exposing yourself in an inhabited house, trailer, or building, or a subsequent offense, may be a gross misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, you may spend up to one year in jail. A felony can result in 16 months, two years, or three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Subsequent Convictions

If you’re charged with indecent exposure a second, third, or subsequent time or other lewd acts, you may face a felony conviction as well.

Do You Have to Register as a Sex Offender if Convicted?

Yes, if you are convicted of indecent exposure, you will have to register as a sex offender for a minimum of 10 years. Failure to register is also a crime, which may be a misdemeanor or felony with penalties similar to those of the original conviction.

Defenses for Indecent Exposure Charges in Oakland

There are many defenses your Oakland indecent exposure lawyer can use in your case. Some of the strongest defenses may include:

You did not have the necessary intent.

To be convicted of indecent exposure, you must have willfully exposed yourself with the intent to achieve sexual gratification or offend others. If the prosecution cannot prove that intent beyond a reasonable doubt, you should not be convicted.

Your attorney can present evidence that you did not know you were going to offend anyone, there was no one around you, or you did not act for sexual gratification. Many arguments can be used with this defense.

You were falsely accused.

False accusations are common in sex crimes cases. The alleged victim is often a former significant other who is angry or vengeful. Your attorney can use evidence, such as text messages and voicemails, to impeach the credibility of the alleged victim and prove they are lying about your actions.

You are the victim of mistaken identity.

The alleged victim may have mistakenly identified you in some situations. For example, if the offense occurred in a dark environment or the perpetrator resembled you, the alleged victim may have been mistaken when they identified you as the person who committed the crime.

Contact an Oakland Indecent Exposure Lawyer for Help

If you have been arrested for indecent exposure, you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Sex crimes are no joking matter. You can end up incarcerated and with the requirement to register as a sex offender if you don’t take this situation seriously.

Attorney Seth Morris will develop a strong defense for you. Contact Morris Law today at 510-330-0814 to schedule a confidential case evaluation.