California's outdated indecent exposure laws could spell trouble

California Penal Code Section 314-318.6 which covers indecent exposure, has remained largely untouched since 1872. The specific language of the statute states makes it a crime for:

" 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 or 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."

Charges of indecent exposure are largely subjective, with one person complaining and another person denying they have done anything wrong. Because these laws have remained on the books, oftentimes a person will be facing these charges in conjunction with other charges. For example, it is not unusual for a person to face indecent exposure charges for drunk and disorderly conduct or even breaking and entering. The key component of the charges however must be that the defendant had the intention of offending someone or encouraging them to be stimulated sexually by their exposure.

Severe penalties

California penalties for indecent exposure are very serious and should never be taken lightly. While most of the time they are charged as a misdemeanor, there are unforeseen consequences. For example, even a conviction for a misdemeanor will mean the offender must register as a sex offender in California. In addition, convictions may result in jail time of up to six months and fines of up to $1,000.

Felony convictions far more onerous

Depending on the circumstances, the charges for indecent exposure may be upgraded to a felony. For example, if someone enters a home against the homeowner's wishes and exposes themselves, this would raise the potential charges to aggravated indecent exposure and would result in the charges being upgraded to a felony. Anyone arrested for indecent exposure for the second time may also be facing felony charges. The penalties for a felony indecent exposure conviction may include:

  • Up to three years in California state prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • Lifetime registration in sex offender database

In spite of the fact the California laws are very outdated, there are several defenses that may be presented to avoid conviction for indecent exposure. Prosecutors must be able to prove defendants had a specific intent either to provide sexual gratification to themselves or the person they exposed themselves to. Typically, this is very difficult to prove.

If you have been charged with indecent exposure in Temecula, Murrieta, Menifee, Wildomar, Perris, Hemet, Lake Elsinore, Banning, Corona, Winchester or Riverside, it's important that you obtain the assistance of an effective and experienced criminal defense attorney. Call (951) 842-2347 immediately to schedule a free consultation directly with Attorney Nic Cocis.

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