Your Guide to Indecent Exposure in California

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California Indecent Exposure

Indecent exposure is a commonly overlooked but serious criminal offense in California. Many people engage in this act without even knowing the extent of the crime they have committed. 

In California, indecent exposure can put you in serious trouble. Aside from the criminal penalties you might be sentenced to in court, it can have other effects. Depending on the specific act you committed, it can tarnish your image severely if it appears on your criminal record. 

To prevent this from happening, you need to hire a top-tier criminal defense law firm to defend you in court. Schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney for representation.

What Does It Mean to Expose Yourself Indecently?

Indecent exposure in California occurs when a person improperly shows their genitals. According to California Penal Code §314, indecent exposure happens when a person intentionally makes an obscene exposure of their private parts in a public place or a place where other people can get offended. Generally, indecent exposure is considered a sex crime, albeit one of the lesser sex crimes in California.

While indecent exposure often happens when people engage in sexual activity in public, people engage in indecent exposure for different reasons. Some may have a sexual desire or interest related to exposing their genitals.

Other reasons for indecent exposure may be to get attention, make a joke, shock or offend, or make a political statement. Other times, a person commits the offense due to mental illness, so the law typically responds differently to them.

After being charged or arrested, it is essential that you hire a seasoned lawyer to defend you legally in court. Getting in touch with your lawyer as soon as possible is essential for an effective defense strategy.

Elements of Indecent Exposure in California

Based on the provisions of California law on indecent exposure, certain elements need to be present for an act to count as indecent exposure. Some of these elements are:

The Exposure Must Be Willful

For you to be convicted of indecent exposure, it must have been done willfully. Therefore, if you expose yourself unintentionally or someone else forcefully exposes you, it may not be treated as indecent exposure.

It Occurs in a Public Place or a Place With People

Indecent exposure in California only happens when people expose themselves in a public place or where other people are present. Exposing yourself in a private place like a restroom or bathroom stall would not be regarded as indecent exposure.

Other People Are Offended

Also, according to the Penal Code, for a person to be convicted of indecent exposure, other persons have to be offended by it. This means that exposing yourself in the presence of someone with consent would not be considered indecent exposure. Similarly, if you expose yourself at a nude beach, people are not likely to be offended, so it would not count as an indecent manner of exposure.

Penalties for Indecent Exposure

California criminal law classifies indecent exposure as a misdemeanor. This means that if you are found guilty, you can go to county jail for a period of 364 days at most and a fine of not more than $1000. A first-time sex offender is less likely to face a lengthy jail term. Depending on the circumstances, you can be asked to pay a fine or sentenced to a short jail sentence.

Indecent exposure becomes a felony if you are convicted for a second or subsequent time. It will also be a felony upon your first conviction if you have previously been convicted of incest, bigamy, or crimes against nature.

As a felony, indecent exposure is punishable by imprisonment in a state prison for at least a year. The court will determine the exact sentence. Like other sexual offenses, indecent exposure convictions typically also warrant sex offender registration.

Online Indecent Exposure in California

Online indecent exposure is commonly referred to as cyber flashing. It often occurs when people send unsolicited images or videos of their genitals or them engaging in sexual conduct to others over the internet. Similar to physical indecent exposure, this show of genitals is often seen as annoying or offensive in the digital environment, e.g., on social media platforms.

There are no criminal laws specifically dealing with online indecent exposure in California. However, there are laws addressing cyberbullying and harassment in California. Depending on the facts, these laws can be applied to cases involving online indecent exposure.

Possible Defenses to Indecent Exposure Charges

There are different ways in which your criminal defense attorney can defend you. However, not all lines of defense will apply to your particular case. The case may be more complicated if, for instance, you were charged with other sexual offenses like sexual assault in addition to indecent exposure.

In general, if your attorney can prove the following, you may be able to successfully defend yourself:

  • It was not done intentionally

  • You did not expose any genitals or private parts

  • You have a mental illness that can affect your reasoning to a certain extent

  • It did not occur in the presence of anyone or a public place

It’s important to note that the other defenses that may be available to you will depend on the unique circumstances of your case. Therefore, you need to speak to an attorney right away.

Consult the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney

Sexual offense charges are very delicate. They can have severe repercussions on you for the rest of your life. This is why getting an experienced law firm to help with your case is crucial. At the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, we can use our knowledge and experience with the law to effectively defend you.

If you need a Los Angeles sex crimes attorney, look no further. Take action on your indecent exposure case as urgently as possible. We provide services in Russian, Spanish, and English. We also offer a free first consultation so that you can discuss your issues with us without any commitment whatsoever. 

Contact us now to begin your criminal defense journey.

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