California law defines indecent exposure as exposing one’s genitals in a public place to others who could be offended or annoyed by the exposure. It is a type of sex crime. A conviction can carry serious direct and long-term consequences. The penalties may include fines, imprisonment, and mandatory sex offender registration. A person could also lose their professional certification, find trouble when applying for a job or admission to a school or program, and suffer serious harm to their personal and professional reputation.
However, you can seek help from an experienced Oakland sex crimes defense attorney at Lamano Law Office. We know how to defend these cases, and we can put that experience to work for you right away. It should give you peace of mind to know that we will work hard to protect your rights and your future. To learn more about how we can help with your indecent exposure charge in the Bay Area or elsewhere in California, contact us today and receive a consultation about your case.
What Is Considered Indecent Exposure in California?
California defines the sex crime of indecent exposure under Section 314 of the Penal Code. For a prosecutor to convict you of this offense, a prosecutor must prove two basic facts beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You willfully exposed your “private parts”
- In the presence of one or more persons who would be reasonably offended or annoyed by your actions
It’s important to understand each of these elements. For instance, the law requires “willful” exposure. In other words, you must expose yourself on purpose. If you exposed yourself by accident — maybe your pants slipped because your belt snapped or a button broke — it could be a defense to this charge.
Also, the exposure must reveal your genitals. If you merely reveal your underwear, or you are a woman who exposes your breasts — even with a sexual purpose — it would not be an indecent exposure crime.
A prosecutor does not need to prove that the person who allegedly saw your genitals was actually offended or annoyed. It’s an objective standard. If a reasonable person would react that way to the exposure, and the prosecutor can establish the other basic elements, it will likely support an indecent exposure conviction.
What Are the Penalties for Indecent Exposure?
The potential penalties for an indecent exposure conviction in California can vary. The crime may be punished as a misdemeanor or felony. It will depend on your prior record and whether any aggravating circumstances were present.
A first-time indecent exposure conviction is a misdemeanor. If convicted, a person faces up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 (along with other costs). The crime becomes a felony if you have either of the following:
- A prior indecent exposure conviction
- A prior “lewd acts with a minor” conviction (Penal Code 288).
You can also be charged with felony aggravated indecent exposure if you revealed your genitals after entering an inhabited home, trailer, or another type of building without permission.
A felony conviction carries a stiffer penalty, including a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence ranging from 16 to 36 months.
If Convicted of Indecent Exposure, Do I Have to Register as a Sex Offender in California?
In addition to fines, costs, and incarceration in a county jail or state prison, you must also register as a sex offender for a minimum of ten years after being convicted of an indecent exposure crime. Section 290 of the Penal Code sets out the sex offender registry requirement. If you fail to maintain your current address in the California sex offender registry, you could be charged with failure to register as a sex offender. A conviction could lead to felony or misdemeanor penalties. It depends on whether you were convicted of a felony or misdemeanor sex crime.
Could Other Crimes Be Charged with Indecent Exposure?
Unfortunately, a person charged with indecent exposure may face other, related charges, such as:
- Lewd conduct with a minor (Penal Code 288)
- Lewd conduct in public (Penal Code 647)
- Trespassing (Penal Code 602)
- Burglary (Penal Code 459).
Police and prosecutors in the Bay Area often charge people with multiple crimes related to indecent exposure in an effort to exert pressure on them and convince them to accept a guilty plea. However, you should be careful before you accept any plea offer, especially when a conviction could place you on the California Sex Offender Registry.
What Are Possible Defenses to an Indecent Exposure Charge?
At Lamano Law Office, we have years of experience representing people accused of indecent exposure and other sex offenses in Oakland and throughout the Bay Area. We know how to defend against these charges and protect the rights of our clients.
When you work with us, we will thoroughly investigate the circumstances and work hard to identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. As a result of our efforts, we may discover that you were identified through an unlawful and unconstitutional lineup, or that you were falsely accused of indecent exposure. (Sadly, many false sex offense allegations arise from domestic disputes. A spouse, parent, or child may accuse a person of unlawfully exposing themselves to “get even” as part of an ongoing fight.)
The evidence may also simply fail to support a conviction. For example, the only witnesses to the alleged crime may have only seen your underwear, or, based on the circumstances, it may be obvious that the exposure occurred despite your best efforts to seclude yourself.
Our Oakland Indecent Exposure Lawyers Can Help You
Have you been charged with indecent exposure in Oakland or elsewhere in California? If so, contact Lamano Law Office as soon as possible to get started on your defense. We take pride in easing our clients’ stress and doing everything we can to pursue the best possible outcome in their case, including dismissal of the charge. To learn more about how we can help you, call or reach out to us online today.