Guide For Navigating Indecent Exposure Charges

Last Modified: January 22, 2024

Indecent exposure charges are serious. Our top rated attorneys can help you navigate your case. View our guide to defense.

Los Angeles Indecent Exposure Attorneys

Indecent exposure, at first glance, does not sound like a terribly serious crime. However, in California, conviction on misdemeanor indecent exposure charges can mean up to one year in jail. Conviction on felony indecent exposure charges (yes, in California, the police can charge you with a felony in some circumstances) can mean three years in state prison and thousands of dollars in fines. In either case, conviction on indecent exposure charges will place you on the California sex offender registry for ten years.

This will affect where you can live, if you can get a job and your relationships with friends and family. Therefore, persons charged with indecent exposure need the help of experienced Los Angeles indecent exposure attorneys to fight the charges and either get them reduced or dismissed outright after trial.

What Is Considered Indecent Exposure in California?

California Penal Code 314 PC sets forth the law regarding indecent exposure. Penal Code 314 defines indecent exposure as willfully exposing your genitals to someone in order to sexually arouse or satisfy yourself or another person. It is also a crime to expose yourself to sexually offend someone.

While that may sound simple, there are several elements to the crime of indecent exposure. And the prosecutor must be prepared to prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt in order to win a conviction.

Willful exposure

Indecent exposure is the willful exposure of your genitals. Someone who gets swamped by a wave in the ocean and loses his bathing suit does not commit indecent exposure when he comes out of the water.

Exposing a naked body

This element of indecent exposure requires the exposure of a naked body. Exposing yourself in revealing underwear which still cover at least some of the genital area is not indecent exposure.

Exposing genitals to someone who might be offended or annoyed This element means that someone has to be present when the exposure occurs, whether in a private or public setting. The perpetrator exposed his genitals to get the attention of the audience to (1) sexually gratify himself or another or (2) sexually offend someone

Just exposing the genitals isn’t enough. The perpetrator has to do it intending to draw attention to his genitals.

What are the penalties for conviction on indecent exposure charges? Assuming the prosecutor wins a conviction of or the defendant pleads guilty to indecent exposure charges, there are several sentencing possibilities.

If the defendant pleads guilty/is convicted of simple misdemeanor indecent assault, the sentence can be up to six months in county jail and up to a $1,000 fine. Additionally, the defendant will now be treated as a Tier Three sexual offender. That means placement on California’s sex offender registry for 10 years.

If the defendant committed the indecent exposure in an occupied building or trailer, and went uninvited into the building/trailer, the indecent exposure is considered an aggravated misdemeanor. It can be treated as a misdemeanor or felony. If treated as a misdemeanor, it carries up to one year in prison.

When Is Indecent Exposure Considered a Felony?

If a person commits indecent exposure and already had a conviction for indecent exposure, the prosecutors will file felony indecent exposure charges.

Likewise, if they charge a person is with indecent exposure and and that person has a prior conviction for lewdness with a minor (Penal Code 288 PC), the prosecutor will file felony charges.

If treated as a felony, jail time can be up to three years. The judge can also impose a fine up to $10,000. The penalties for felony indecent exposure are the same as when aggravated felony indecent exposure is charged.

Defenses to Indecent Exposure Charges

Experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys know that there are several defenses to rebut charges of indecent exposure.

Insufficient evidence

Many times, experienced Los Angeles indecent exposure lawyers find that the amount or quality of the evidence the prosecutor intends to produce is lacking. Perhaps the prosecutor will have difficulty proving the defendant acted intentionally. Experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys can punch holes in the prosecutor’s case.

Mistaken identification

The identification of the perpetrator may be suspect because of poor lighting or the brief time the victim actually saw the perpetrator.

False accusations

Sex crimes are often “he said, she said” cases. Perhaps it turns out that the defendant and victim had a prior relationship that did not end well.

Contact Perlman & Cohen

If the police charge you or a loved one with indecent exposure, you will need the help of experienced Los Angeles criminal lawyers. As noted above, even conviction of misdemeanor indecent exposure for a first-time offender will result in that person spending 10 years on the sexual offender registry. In some ways, that 10 year “sentence” is worse than being sent to jail. You will need an experienced criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles to hold the prosecution to the high standard of proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Daniel Perlman and Matthew Cohen are experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Perlman & Cohen. They will explore all options in crafting a defense to the indecent exposure charges. In appropriate cases, they will negotiate a plea to lesser charges from a position of strength.

Otherwise, they will prepare your case for trial and force the prosecutor to prove every element of the indecent exposure charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Call them at (310) 557-1700 to set up a free consultation so they can help you fight the indecent exposure charges and protect your rights.

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