California Penal Code Section 314 PC: Indecent Exposure

indecent exposure1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

In California, it is a crime to expose one’s genitals to another person when the exposure is made with the intent of sexual gratification or to offend the other person. Most people know that this behavior is criminal, however many people are surprised to learn that a conviction for indecent exposure under California Penal Code Section 314 PC is considered a sex crime that can carry serious consequences, including lifetime sex offender registration.

To prove that a defendant is guilty of indecent exposure, a prosecutor must be able to establish the following elements:

  1. The defendant willfully exposed his or her genitals in the presence of another person(s) who would be offended or annoyed by the defendant’s actions.
  2. When the defendant exposed him or herself, he or she acted lewdly by intending to direct attention to the naked genitals with the purpose of sexually arousing himself or sexually offending the other person.
  3. It is not required that another person actually see the exposed genitals, only that the defendant exposed his or her genitals in the presence of another person or persons.

If the indecent exposure occurred after a defendant entered a house or other inhabited dwelling without consent, the defendant can be charged with aggravated indecent exposure which may be charged as a felony.

2. Examples

A man sneaks into a woman’s house at night while she is sleeping. The man removes his clothing and begins masturbating. The woman wakes up and starts screaming, which causes the man to quickly get dressed and run away. The man could be charged with aggravated indecent exposure for his actions. In addition, the felony indecent exposure can be the underlying felony that would allow prosecutors to charge the man with burglary in violation of California Penal Code Section 459 PC.

After spending all day drinking at football game, a young man feels the need to urinate in a parking lot. While his penis is exposed, a family drives by him and observes him urinating. Even though the family may be offended, the man did not commit indecent exposure because he did not expose himself with the intent to sexually offend others or sexually gratify himself. However, he may be charged with creating a public nuisance under California Penal Code Section 270 PC.

3. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Lewd Conduct - California Penal Code Section 647(a) PC
4. Defenses to Indecent Exposure

Whether or not an exposure was conducted with sexual intent is something that may be open to interpretation. As a result, there may be circumstances in which a person accidently exposes his or her genitals without the required sexual intent to offend or arouse. When this is the case, the defendant would have a strong accident defense.

5. Penalties

In most cases, indecent exposure is a misdemeanor offense that can be punished by up to six months in jail, extensive court fines, counseling and/or sex offender programming, and lifetime sex offender registration.

For those accused of aggravated indecent exposure that also includes entering a dwelling without consent, the offense is a “wobbler,” which can be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If convicted of the felony, the defendant can be sentenced to up to three years in prison. In addition, if the defendant has a prior conviction for indecent exposure, any subsequent charge is a felony that is punishable by up to three years in prison.

A conviction for indecent exposure can threaten professional licenses and may prevent those convicted from working in certain occupations.

6. Criminal Defense for Indecent Exposure Cases

Indecent exposure is a serious criminal offense that will trigger lifelong sex offender registration if convicted. As a result, if you or a loved one have been accused of this offense, it is critical that you speak with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney right away. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who understands how potentially devastating a conviction for indecent exposure can be. Mr. Kraut can often intervene before charges have been filed to help prevent prosecutors from filing this devastating charge. Mr. Kraut is a passionate and respected advocate who works hard for his clients charged with offenses of this nature.

For more information about indecent exposure, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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