Indecent Exposure Law in California
Indecent exposure is defined as a crime by the California Penal Code. It is the exposure of one's body or genitals in a public place or in front of any other person who would be offended or annoyed by it. It may also include nakedness for the purpose of sexual arousal, solicitation or any other lewdness. Typically, this is a misdemeanor charge in California, but in some cases it may be considered a felony offense. Although this is most often considered a misdemeanor, the consequences are incredibly serious. Anyone convicted of indecent exposure will be required to register as a sex offender for life. They will then appear in the national sex offender registry, which could significantly harm a person's ability to gain employment, move neighborhoods or even come within a certain distance of schools.
Sometimes, people get charged with indecent exposure simply because they were changing their clothes at the beach, having sex in their car or relieving themselves while outside. In most of these cases, the perpetrator did not intend for anyone else to see them. Their exposure was not intentional, or for any other purpose that would offend. If you were not trying to exhibit yourself or gain sexual pleasure, then it is important that you gain the help of an attorney because you may have a strong defense. Intent is a large determining factor in these cases. The prosecution will have to prove your guilt based upon a number of different factors listed in the penal code.
California Penal Code § 314
California Penal Code § 314 details the crime of indecent exposure. Being naked in public can be characterized as indecent exposure if the individual did so "willfully" and "lewdly." You must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of intentionally revealing your nakedness or genitals in public or where other people could see. It must also be taken into consideration whether or not the individual knew the act of being naked in public would be insulting and did it anyway. Another determination for indecent exposure is whether or not the individual exposed themselves for the purpose of sexual arousal, either for themselves or for another person.
One example scenario in which individuals have been charged with indecent exposure is in cases of bathroom solicitation. Public restrooms are a fairly common place for individuals to solicit sex. One individual might expose him or herself at a public restroom to another person for the purpose of arousal. If a witness sees this and reports it, or if undercover officers set up a sting in that particular bathroom, then the individual would likely be charged with a sex crime.
Consider another scenario. If a woman was at the beach and her bathing suit fell off in front of other people. She may very well be charged with indecent exposure, but the woman would have a strong defense. If this exposure was an accident, then it would be difficult to prove intent. On the other hand, if an individual was caught purposefully swimming naked in a public place that was not considered a nude beach or clothing optional, they may incur a fine and a misdemeanor charge. There are a variety of factors that can affect this type of charge.
The most important thing to remember is that simply because this sex crime is a misdemeanor (in most cases) does not mean that it should be taken lightly. Only a skilled criminal defense attorney like Chuck Gorian can gather the evidence, prepare a strong defense and take a stand for your rights so that you are not required to face the consequences of being registered as a sex offender.
If you were arrested and charged with indecent exposure in Corona or a surrounding area, then please do not hesitate to Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich today!