Let’s say that somebody in California was walking around on the streets and in business buildings just to harass people and point attention to himself. However, let’s add another factor to this – he’s doing it completely in the nude. There are people all over the streets, including children and the elderly trying to enjoy their day. The man was walking around on the streets for the sole purpose of sexually gratifying himself. This makes him guilty of something known as “indecent exposure,” which can carry penalties and is frowned upon in the State of California. In fact, Under Penal Code Section 314, indecent exposure is defined as the willful exposure of one’s genitals to another person to gratify themselves or offend another person, and it is completely illegal.
Making the Charge
To get charged with indecent exposure, what must be evident? First of all, one must expose their genitals in some way. If you only exposed your underwear, this is not considered to be indecent exposure. If a female exposes her breasts because she is about to breastfeed, this is not considered to be indecent exposure, either. Exposure must also take place in the presence of someone who could be annoyed or offended by it. If nobody is around when you are nude, this does not really count. A second question to pose is this: Did you act lewdly in the exposure? If you were attempting to sexually gratify yourself, this would constitute the charges.
The Prosecutor Proving the Charges
Of course, to get a conviction, the prosecutor must prove some elements right off the bat. This comes in the form of showing some type of evidence to the judge or jury. Here are some elements that need proven:
- Exposure of Private Body Parts: Male and female genitals and male and female buttocks are usually enough to constitute a charge.
- Willful Exposure: The person must have intended to expose their private parts. What happens if somebody steps out of a pool and his or her bathing suit accidentally falls off? This will not be enough for a charge.
- Exposure Taking Place in Public: If somebody exposes themselves in a retail establishment, this would constitute a public place. However, if the exposure takes place in a bedroom and somebody saw it happen by accident through a window, that is not enough for a charge.
- Exposure in Somebody’s Presence: Another person must have seen the act happen.
To clarify, there are certain elements that must be met to constitute a “public place” as well. Exposure usually relates to places like roads, stores, parks, and restaurants. It really depends on what the state decides in many cases. Public exposure becomes an even larger charge when it is done to children, wielding much more intense consequences.
Can I Defend Myself From Charges?
In some cases, yes. However, there are only a handful of different defenses that can be used in this case. Here are some of them:
Viewer’s Consent: In some cases, two people may consent to public nudity. One example of this is in the world of commercial nude dancing. However, even though some situations like this are voluntary, if a third party sees the act occur and did not want to, it becomes illegal.
Lack of Sexual Motivation: If you are sexually motivated, you are more likely to be charged with the crime. For instance, what happens if you are going to the bathroom in public? There was no sexual intent, so you will probably not be charged.
Lack of Exposure Intent: Somebody may accidentally expose themselves, such as dressing in front of a hotel window. This would not be enough to charge the person.
If you are unable to use a defense, you may suffer the consequences such as serious penalties. This may include incarceration, fines of up to $1,000, probation, community service, and even requirement to enter onto the sexual offender registry. Because of this, you should speak to an attorney about your options sooner than later. At The Law Office of Peter Blair, we can help you every step of the way. Call us today for more information on where to turn.