Indecent exposure involves exposing your genitals in a public place and in the presence of someone else. The prosecution must prove that you willfully exposed yourself and that your intention was for sexual gratification before you are convicted. Indecent exposure is a sex crime charged under California Penal Code 314.
A conviction for this offense has serious legal and collateral consequences. After serving a jail or prison sentence, the conviction will remain on your record until you try to expunge it or seek other forms of post-conviction relief. Additionally, the court will require sex-offender registration after a conviction. Sex offender status can be detrimental to your personal and professional well-being.
Therefore, hiring and retaining a competent lawyer to help you fight the charge is critical. At Sex Crimes Attorney, we offer top-notch legal guidance to all our clients battling sex crime throughout California.
Understanding California PC 314
Different people have varying definitions of indecency. Under California PC 314, you commit the crime of indecent exposure when you reveal your genitals in a public area. Although indecent exposure does not involve sexual contact or abuse, the offense is treated as a sex crime.
The prosecuting attorney must prove these elements of indecent exposure before your conviction:
You Exposed Your Genitals
The first element that the prosecution must prove to obtain a conviction under PC 314 is the exposure of your genitals. Under this statute, your genitals include the vagina, penis, or buttocks. Exposure of female breasts to anything under the concealment of clothing will not suffice under this statute.
You Exposed Yourself in another Person’s Presence
Revealing your genitals alone will not result in a conviction under PC 314. You will only be guilty of the offense if the exposure happened in front of a person who could be offended by the act. The prosecution can call upon witnesses in the area to help ascertain this element. You can still be convicted if you expose yourself publicly when no one is looking.
Your Actions Were Willful
An act is willful when you do it deliberately. This element helps ensure that you are not convicted for an accidental act. The prosecution will assess the circumstances of the act to determine your willfulness. This could be related to the location and time you attempted to expose your genitals. You cannot be found guilty of violating PC 314 if your clothes fell off and your genitals were exposed accidentally.
You Intended to draw Attention to Your Genitals
Another element that must be proven to show that you indecently exposed yourself is that your motive was to draw attention to the exposed genitals. Acts like standing in a strategic position or creating a commotion to seek attention could convince the prosecution and court of your intentions.
You Intended to Annoy Someone Else or Sexually Gratify Yourself
The court requires the prosecution to show your intention to accomplish the following acts when exposing yourself:
- Sexual gratification for yourself or another person.
- Sexual arousal.
- Offend or annoy another person.
Sentencing and Punishment for Indecent Exposure in California
The prosecutor will file misdemeanor charges against you for a first offense of indecent exposure. An indecent exposure conviction results in the following punishment:
- A sentence that does not exceed six months in county jail.
- Fines that do not exceed $1,000.
- Registration as a sex offender for ten years.
For defendants with a prior conviction for indecent exposure or lewd conduct, the prosecution pursues felony charges. If you entered an inhabited dwelling or home intending to commit indecent exposure, the prosecution could charge you with aggravated indecent exposure.
Under these circumstances, you will face wobbler charges. Wobblers attract misdemeanor or felony charges based on the circumstances of the case. Your criminal history, and the circumstances of the case could impact the nature of your charges. As a felony, the offense is punishable by:
- Up to three years in state prison.
- Fines not exceeding $10,000.
- A minimum of ten years in the sex offender registry.
Sex Offender Registration for Indecent Exposure
A conviction for most sex crimes in California will result in sex offender registration. Before Senate Bill 384, all sex crimes mandated lifetime sex offender registration. However, the new laws divided sex offender registration into three tiers:
- Tier one. This is the lowest level of sex offender registration, requiring offenders to remain on the registry for a minimum of ten years.
- Tier two. This is the mid-level sex offender registration, which requires offenders to register for up to twenty years.
- Tier three. Defendants who are convicted of serious sex crimes fall under this category. Your name will remain on the sex-offender registry for life if you fall into this category.
Indecent exposure is a tire-one sex offense. After a Penal Code 314 conviction, your name will remain on the sex offender registry for up to ten years. You will fulfill your duty as a registered sex offender by providing your identification information and address to law enforcement officers after:
- Release from custody.
- Discharge from a mental institution.
You must continue to renew your sex offender status when you move or are enrolled in an institution of higher learning. Being on the sex offender registry can cause severe social stigma. Most people will be reluctant to work with or interact with you when you are a registered sex offender. Therefore, you must fight your indecent exposure charges to avoid this consequence.
You can eliminate the sex-offender registration requirement by applying for a certificate of rehabilitation. The certificate of rehabilitation shows that you have been rehabilitated from your criminal conduct and can be a productive member of society. You could be eligible for the COR after a PC 314 conviction if:
- You have not been convicted of another crime after your release from jail for indecent exposure.
- You have completed your parole or probation and followed all the court-imposed conditions.
- You lived in California for up to five years before filing the petition.
Obtaining a certificate of rehabilitation is very beneficial if you have been convicted of violating PC 314. The biggest advantage of this post-conviction relief is that it stops your requirement to register as a sex offender. You must file a petition and attend a COR hearing before receiving this relief's benefits. Having a skilled lawyer guide you through petitioning for a COR is crucial.
Collateral Consequences of a PC 314 Conviction
The impact of a PC 314 conviction goes beyond incarceration and fines. The conviction will appear on your permanent criminal record even after you serve your sentence. Criminal convictions are public records in California. Therefore, any person or agency interested in your criminal record can find the conviction. Sex crimes are serious and shameful crimes, and your conviction for indecent exposure can affect the following aspects of your life:
- Difficulty obtaining employment. Most employers perform background checks on all their potential employees before offering employment. If an employer finds a PC 314 conviction on your criminal record, they can use it to discriminate against you. Additionally, indecent exposure requires sex offender registration, limiting where you can work. Therefore, you can lose your existing employment after a conviction.
- Loss of a professional license. Professionals like nurses, doctors, and pharmacists will require a professional license to practice. The licensing boards in California are strict and will consider your criminal record when issuing a license. If a license holder commits a crime like indecent exposure, the likelihood of a license suspension or revocation is high.
- Child custody issues. A criminal conviction for a sex crime can dim your chances of child custody or visitation. Family court judges decide on child custody based on the child’s best interests. If you have a PC 314 conviction on your record, the court will view you as a danger to the child's safety. For this reason, the other parent will have the upper hand in the custody case.
- Challenges in obtaining housing. Most landlords are reluctant to offer housing to individuals with criminal records. Finding a place to live will be challenging if you have a sex crime conviction on your record.
- Ruined reputation. An indecent exposure conviction is a shameful situation. Most people learn about your convictions, which may change how they interact with you. This could create social stigma and ruin your personal life.
You can avoid these collateral consequences by finding a reliable attorney to guide you through fighting the charges.
Legal Defense Against PC 314 Charges
The consequences of a conviction can impact your personal and professional lives. With the help of a knowledgeable criminal lawyer, you can use the following arguments to build a defense:
Without surveillance video or photographic evidence, your indecent exposure charge will be based on witness testimony, which is unreliable. Indecent exposure is a serious and shameful sex crime. Therefore, you could be a victim of false allegations. A person could be motivated by jealousy, anger, or revenge to accuse you of the crime.
Most sex crimes occur in dark and secluded areas. Most people will not stick around to identify a person who exposes their genitals correctly. Therefore, your case may be based on mistaken identification. If you resemble the alleged perpetrator in appearance or clothing, the witness may mistakenly identify you as the individual who exposed themselves publicly.
Mistaken identification is a leading cause of wrongful convictions in California. When you hire a competent attorney for your case, they can use different strategies to resolve the mistaken identification issues and help you avoid a conviction.
Lack of Intent
The prosecution must prove your intention for sexual arousal or gratification to obtain an indecent exposure conviction. Intent is one of the most challenging elements for the prosecution to prove. You can argue that exposing your genitals in a public area was unintentional.
There was no One Present in the Area
You can only be found guilty under PC 314 if you expose yourself in another person's presence. You can avoid a conviction for this offense by asserting that no one was present in the area when you exposed yourself. Therefore, no one could be offended by your actions.
The prosecution must prove all the elements of indecent exposure beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction. These elements must be backed by physical and circumstantial evidence. Additionally, the prosecutor can present witnesses to help ascertain the facts. If one of the elements is unclear, you can argue insufficient evidence and avoid a conviction.
When the prosecution does not have enough evidence to secure a conviction under PC 314, they could agree to enter a plea deal where they face a conviction for a lesser crime.
Indecent Exposure Plea Bargains
The ultimate goal of a criminal defense in California is to obtain a not guilty verdict or have your case dismissed by the court. However, if this is impossible, you can negotiate a plea deal. Plea deals are binding agreements between defendants and the prosecution.
Entering the plea means you will plead guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for dismissing your underlying charges. The prosecution will agree to enter a plea deal if their case against you is not strong enough. A violation of PC 314 is a sex crime that will leave you behind bars and put your name on the sex-offender registry.
Pleading guilty to a less serious crime can save you from incarceration and the stigma of sex offender registration. The following are commonly available plea bargains for indecent exposure:
You can be charged with disturbing the peace for engaging in disruptive activities like unreasonable noise, fighting, or offensive language. When you face charges for disturbing the peace, the prosecution must prove that:
- You willfully engaged in disruptive behavior.
- The act occurred in public.
Disturbing peace is a misdemeanor whose conviction attracts a jail sentence of up to ninety days. You can avoid incarceration through a probation sentence. When you face charges for indecent exposure, you can negotiate a plea for disturbing you. If the prosecution agrees to the plea deal, you will avoid the harsh consequences of a PC 314 conviction.
Under CPC 602, trespass involves entering and remaining on another person’s property without permission. Common acts of trespass include:
- Entering another person’s property with the intent to damage it.
- Entering someone else’s property with the intent to obstruct the activities on their property.
- Occupying another person’s property without their consent.
- Failure to leave private property when you are asked to do so.
If the prosecution charges you with aggravated Penal Code 314 for entering a property to expose your genitals, you can negotiate a plea deal for trespass. The prosecution can dismiss your indecent exposure charge by pleading guilty to trespass. Indecent exposure is a misdemeanor, and a conviction is punishable by a maximum of six months in county jail.
Frequently Asked Questions on California PC 314
The prosecution must prove that you exposed your genitals in a public area to obtain an indecent exposure conviction against you. However, California sex crimes are complicated. If you are arrested and charged under this statute, you may be confused about the right steps to take. The following are commonly asked questions about California PC 314:
What parts of my body need to be exposed for indecent exposure charges to result in a conviction?
Under CPC 314, the prosecution must prove that you exposed your genitals in a public place for a conviction. Genitals mean any sexual organs located below the waist. Exposing your underwear or anything above the waist will not suffice as indecent exposure.
Is indecent exposure a serious crime?
Yes. A violation of PC 314 is a serious sex crime. If you are a first-time offender, the prosecution will file a misdemeanor charge against you. However, if you have prior sex crime convictions, you could face a felony conviction. Regardless of the nature of your charges, you will likely be incarcerated for this crime. Therefore, you must be aggressive to fight the charge and avoid a conviction.
Is sex offender registration mandatory after a conviction for indecent exposure?
Yes. Sex offender registration is one of the most daunting consequences of a sex crime conviction, and indecent exposure is not an exception.
Can I face indecent exposure charges for urinating in public?
There are some exceptions to indecent exposure laws, which include urinating in public and breastfeeding. A Penal Code 314 conviction requires the prosecution to show that you wanted to draw attention to your genitals and that you were motivated by sexual gratification. Urinating in a public area may not satisfy the sexual intent required to obtain a conviction under this statute.
Can I be guilty of indecent exposure if no one sees my genitals?
Yes. The prosecution does not need evidence that another person saw your genitals for a conviction. Exposing your genitals in a way that could offend others is enough to find you guilty of the crime. The most critical element that the court will look out for is your intention for sexual arousal or gratification.
What is the statute of limitations for indecent exposure charges?
Under California law, the statute of limitations is the time within which the prosecution must file criminal charges against you. Indecent exposure has a statute of limitations of one year. Therefore, the prosecution must file PC 4314 charges against you within one year of the incident. If charges are filed after the statute of limitations has elapsed, the court can dismiss them.
Can I expunge an indecent exposure conviction?
Yes. The collateral consequences of indecent exposure are severe and lifelong. Fortunately, there are some forms of post-conviction relief you can explore to help you avoid these consequences. Under California PC 1203.4, an expungement is a court process where a not-guilty verdict replaces your guilty verdict before your case is dismissed.
If you have completed your probation sentence and are not facing additional charges, you could petition the court to expunge the conviction. Expunging your record helps relieve you of the most collateral consequences of your conviction. However, you must understand that an expungement will not eliminate the requirement to register as a sex offender.
What should I do if I am arrested for indecent exposure?
Not all arrests for indecent exposure will result in a conviction. Therefore, you should be careful with your steps after an arrest. You should avoid speaking with law enforcement officers without legal guidance. This is because the information you provide can be misconstrued and used against you in the case.
Having legal insight can change the outcome of your case. A competent attorney can help you investigate the case and guide you on what you can say to the police.
Find a Competent Criminal Lawyer Near Me
You could be arrested and charged with indecent exposure for revealing your genitals in the presence of another person. You can also be charged under PC 314 for helping others expose themselves publicly for arousal or sexual gratification. Indecent exposure is categorized as a sex crime, and the court and prosecution aggressively handle these offenses.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, the prosecution can file felony or misdemeanor PC 314 charges. You will be sentenced to incarceration and substantial fines if convicted of this offense. Additionally, your name will be on the sex offender registry for up to ten years.
Fortunately, not all arrests under Penal Code 314 result in convictions. With the help of a skilled criminal lawyer, you can build a solid defense and fight the charges. A defense under this statute will be aimed at dismissing your case or lowering your charges to a less serious offense like disturbing the peace.
Your choice of legal guidance could make a difference in the outcome of your criminal case. At Sex Crimes Attorney, we understand the devastating effects an indecent exposure conviction can have on your life. If you or a loved one faces sex crime charges in California, you will benefit from our legal expertise by your side. Call us today at 888-666-8480 to discuss your case details.