When you inappropriately reveal your genitals in public, you commit a crime against the individuals offended by your action under the indecent exposure law. The offense falls under the broader scope of sex crimes, and a prosecutor must prove several case facts beyond reasonable certainty for a conviction. One of these elements is deliberately exposing your genitals or private parts. Sadly, you could unknowingly be sentenced for the offense even when the exposure was accidental, or you were unaware your privates were exposed.
In Pasadena, CA, the Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm helps individuals charged with this sex crime to avoid a conviction whose consequences can result in dented reputation, financial loss, jail time, and adversely impact your employability. Therefore, do not hesitate to seek legal advice to protect your future and reputation.
Explanation of Indecent Exposure Laws
PEN section 314 defines indecent exposure as:
- When you willfully reveal your naked body or private parts in a public setting or a place where the person present will be offended by your actions.
- To direct the public eye to your privates for sexual gratification or to sexually offend another person.
Also, a violation of PEN 314 happens when you help somebody else to expose themselves, participate in a model artist exhibit, or make any kind of public exhibition to several people construed as offensive for sexual satisfaction.
The critical facts of the case the prosecutor should prove are that your conduct was deliberate and that your genitals were visible to the persons around you.
PEN 314 was enacted in 1872 and highlighted various circumstances that could result in prosecution for a violation of the law. These include:
- A woman exposes her breasts in a public setting to give someone sexual gratification
- An adult male by the streets showing his private parts to female passersby to sexually harass or annoy them
- A teenage boy exposing his naked body to female adults to offend them
When you are arrested for any of the abovementioned occurrences, the prosecutor will take necessary legal measures to satisfy the law. The steps consist of filing charges, proving the case’s elements by the prosecutor, contesting the claims by your legal defense team, and a jury’s verdict on whether you are guilty.
In most cases, when you are the individual exposing your genitals to the public, it will seem like a minor issue. Nevertheless, before the law, your conduct is illegal and attracts criminal liability as it is sexual harassment. The case is built around your intent to cause sexual harassment regardless of whether the behavior led to sexual intercourse. The elements of the crime are further discussed below:
You Actions Were Willful
As indicated above, the exposure of your genitals must be willful for you to face indecent exposure charges. Intentional, in this case, means you deliberately or willingly engaged in the behavior regardless of whether you intended to violate the law or cause harm. Therefore, accidentally exposing your naked body will not count as indecent exposure because you did not act willingly.
Expose Your Naked Body or Private Parts
Another critical element the prosecutor must demonstrate is that you exposed your naked body or revealed your privates. Indecent exposure does not occur when you disclose your underwear or bare female breasts, regardless of the intention. It must be our naked body or raw private parts.
Around People Who Could be Annoyed or Offended
Exposing yourself or your genitals is not sufficient to meet the threshold of a PC 314 violation. The exposure must occur around persons likely to be annoyed or offended by the conduct. The prosecutor must show that when exposing your privates, you are aware other people would see. If you only revealed yourself, believing no one could see you, the jury will not find you guilty.
Besides, PEN 314 occurs even if the audience is not surprised or annoyed by your actions. Even when you expose yourself to an undercover cop, correctional officer, or any individual less likely to be shocked by your behavior than many individuals, you still risk conviction if the prosecutor proves all the crime’s elements.
You Planned or Desired to Direct People’s Attention to Your Genitals
The prosecutor must demonstrate before the jury that you intended to draw the public’s eye to your privates. Exposure of the naked body is not adequate to prove you engaged in indecent exposure. You must have revealed them to draw the public's attention. Nonetheless, the court could still find you guilty of a PEN 314 violation even if no one sees the bare genitals. What is critical is the intent to direct people’s responsiveness to your naked body. You are not guilty of the crime when you reveal your naked body assuming no one will see. However, when you do it hoping to draw people’s attention, you will be convicted if all the case’s elements are proved.
For Sexual Indulgence or Harassment
A sexual or lewd motive is critical during the prosecution of indecent exposure. Just because you directed the public’s attention to your bare genitals does not make you guilty of PEN 314 violation. The DA must prove that by revealing your genitals:
- You purposed on having sexual gratification
- You intended to provoke another person sexually
- You intended to offend or harass another party sexually
The prosecutor must satisfy all the above elements to prove that you engaged in indecent exposure. Even if a single fact of the case is not established, the law’s threshold will not be fulfilled, making you not guilty of the charges.
PEN 314 is under the control of the California legislature. Therefore, even if you have local ordinances in Pasadena to regulate indecent behavior, the court will rule them invalid if they are stricter than the corresponding PC 314.
Punishment for Indecent Exposure Conviction
The consequences of indecent exposure conviction are severe. You will face misdemeanor charges when it is your first-time offense. And upon sentencing, you will meet the following penalties:
- No more than six months in a jail
- As much as $1,000 in court fines
- At least ten years of sex offender registration obligation
Aggravated Indecent Exposure
Aggravated PEN 314 violation occurs when you reveal your naked body in an occupied trailer, home, or building that you entered without consent. An aggravated PEN 314 violation is a wobbler, meaning the prosecutor has the discretion to either charge you with a felony or misdemeanor. When the offense is a misdemeanor, the penalties are the same as those mentioned above, although jail incarceration increases from six months to twelve months.
Nonetheless, when the offense is a felony, you will face harsher penalties that include:
- Sixteen, twenty-four, or thirty-six months in jail
- Court fines not exceeding $10,000
- At least ten years of sex offender registration
If you are a second-time or repeat offender of PEN 314 violation, you will face felony penalties. Also, you will face a felony conviction if you are sentenced for indecent exposure for the first time but have a previous sentence for a lascivious act with a minor. The offense carries harsh penalties like the ones for aggravated PEN 314 violations.
Apart from the jail sentence, the court can impose formal or felony probation. When granted probation, you must adhere to these requirements:
- Submit a sample for arbitrary drug testing
- Mandatory sex therapy or addiction programs
- Random home searches
- Frequent check-ins with your supervising officer
- Community hours and avoid engaging in criminal activity while out on probation
Sex Offender Registration and PEN 314 Violation
The worst punishment you will face after a sentence for PEN 314 violation is the obligation to list your name on the sex offender register. A conviction for this offense has a minimum requirement to appear on the list of sex offenders for ten years. As per PEN 290, being a registered offender means you must disclose everywhere you move unless you obtain legal relief. You will face the punishment, whether it is a felony or misdemeanor sentence.
When the judge issues this sentence, your only option is to comply. Failure to comply with the requirement will result in additional charges for failure to enlist in the sex offender register. A conviction for this offense would result in felony penalties if your registration duty were because of a felony PEN 314 violation. On the other hand, you will face a misdemeanor sentence if the judge convicts you of a misdemeanor indecent exposure. The consequences for the offense range from twelve months in jail to thirty-six months in state prison incarceration.
After you have registered as a sex offender, your life will change entirely. One negative impact of the punishment is that it results in social stigma because the people around you will see the registration and your name on the list, denting your reputation and trustworthiness. Also, the registration will adversely impact your employment because most licensed professional associations will take disciplinary action when they learn of the conviction and that your name appears on the list of sex offenders. The professional licenses that will be revoked after sentencing are:
- Nursing licenses
- Dental board licenses
- Doctor’s medical board license
The good news is that if you are convicted of a misdemeanor PEN 314 violation, and you are in any of the professions mentioned above or one that requires you to have a professional permit, your professional license will not be subject to automatic suspension. Also, if you are a school teacher, the obligation to list you as a sex offender means you will be required to stay away from school, which means you will lose your job.
From this information, you can see that a conviction for PEN 314 violation will adversely affect your life, making it critical to seek legal guidance immediately after you are charged or learn of an impending arrest. An experienced lawyer will represent your best interests, so you must work closely with one. At the Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm, we can help you understand the crime and penalties, develop defenses to contest the charges, and ensure the best outcome.
Defending Against PEN 314 Violation Charges
Your defense lawyer can apply several defense strategies against indecent exposure charges. The most common defenses you can use in the case are:
You can only be guilty of indecent exposure if the prosecutor proves all the crime’s elements beyond reasonable certainty. Anything less than this threshold means you are innocent. Your lawyer will analyze the prosecutor’s evidence and poke holes in it. They can argue that no one was within for you to offend when the alleged violation occurred. Again, you can assert that your privates were partly covered or that you never intended to act lasciviously. Lastly, the lawyer can argue that you do not meet the requirements defined under the indecent exposure statute, thus reducing or dismissing the charges.
Because you were in a public setting when the said crime occurred, there is a possibility you did not commit it. However, even a well-meaning witness could identify you as the suspect who revealed their bare genitals in public. You are likely to be mistaken for someone else if it was dark or the witness had a poor vision when the said incident happened. Perhaps you resemble the perpetrator from the back, or their face was partly hidden, leading to the witness or victim identifying you as the perpetrator.
Even defendants who have been mistakenly identified as perpetrators of a crime can be convicted if the prosecutor presents a strong case. Therefore, when misidentified for indecent exposure, you must hire a profound defense lawyer to convince the court you are not the perpetrator. Your lawyer must work hard to share your side of the story to prove your innocence. They can argue that you were arrested because you share the same name with the perpetrator or you were at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Also, your lawyer can introduce an expert witness in the case to explain the reasons for misidentification to the court. These experts do not appear to testify against the dependability of the eyewitness. Instead, their role is to give crucial information to the jurors to help them understand how particular aspects affect the reliability of an eyewitness’s identification leading to dependable determinations that ensures the perpetrator does not walk free.
Personal issues like divorce, breakup, or other private matters can make people angry or vengeful, resulting in false accusations. One way vindictive people can hurt you is by falsely accusing you of indecent exposure to face the harsh penalties of a conviction for this crime.
You Did Not Intend to Reveal Your Genitals
As indicated earlier, for the crime of indecent exposure to be complete, you must have intended to reveal or expose your naked body. Therefore, your lawyer can argue that the exposure was never intended, and you did not intend to cause sexual gratification or harassment. For instance, if you are a homeless person arrested standing in an alley naked, your lawyer will assert that someone saw you accidentally. Still, you did not plan to awaken or harass anybody sexually.
You Were Not of Sound Mind at the Time of the Incident
The court cannot hold you criminally liable for an offense when you have a mental condition or illness. The argument here is that you lack the cognitive capacity to understand the consequences of your conduct to others. An experienced defense lawyer will argue that you were not of sound mind when you exposed your genitals in a public area.
You are a Child or Underage Person
Another defense for PEN 314 violation charges is arguing that you are a child and that there are fewer chances you can expose your genitals for sexual arousal. Devoid of this motive, the jury cannot convict you of indecent exposure.
The Victim Had Consented to Your Actions
A PEN 314 violation happens when you reveal your naked body in a public setting, and someone is offended by your actions. When the individual who saw your genitals agreed to the conduct, they were not offended. Your behavior will not amount to indecent exposure. However, your lawyer must prove that the said victim consented to you revealing your genitals.
When facing PC 314 violation charges in Pasadena, do not hesitate to contact the Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm. Our lawyers will poke holes in the evidence presented by the prosecutor to inspire doubt in the jury’s minds about the victim’s or DA’s claims to have the charges dropped or dismissed.
Statute of Limitations for PEN 314 Violation
The prosecutor cannot file charges if it has been over a year since you committed an indecent exposure. Your lawyer will present a petition in court arguing that the time limit provided by the law to file charges has lapsed and that they cannot proceed to file charges against you.
Nonetheless, when PEN 314 violation is filed as a felony, the prosecutor has no more than three years to file charges. After this duration, the statute of limitations bars them from taking legal action against you.
When the prosecutor prefers indecent exposure charges against you, chances are you will be charged with additional crimes. The offenses charged with or alongside indecent exposure are:
Lewd or Lascivious Conduct in Public
As per PEN 647(a), a lewd act in public is when you touch yourself or someone else with sexual intent in a public place. You will be guilty of the offense if the prosecutor shows that you touched or felt your or another party’s genitals in public with a motive of gratification, arousal, or crime.
The offense is filed as a misdemeanor whose sentencing attracts no more than half a year in jail or a court fine of no more than $1,000. Besides, the court can impose misdemeanor probation based on your case’s nature and criminal record. When you touch and reveal your genitals in public, you will face PEN 647(a) and indecent exposure charges as the prosecutor attempts to gain leverage. If you face both charges in Pasadena, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance.
Lewd Act With a Minor
As per PEN 288, it is illegal to reveal your naked body when a child 14 or younger is present. Also, the statute prohibits the act of causing a child under ten years to touch your genitals. The offense is distinct from indecent exposure because the prosecutor must demonstrate your conduct involved touching of genitals.
Therefore, when you reveal your naked body to a child, you will face indecent exposure and PEN 288 violation charges. You will encounter a jail sentence of no more than eight years when convicted for lewd behavior with a minor. Additionally, you will have an obligation to list as a sex offender. The best way to avoid these severe consequences is by contacting a lawyer for representation.
A violation of PEN 415 occurs when you disturb the peace by acting offensively. The offense is not related to indecent exposure, but you can argue during negotiations that your conduct was not a PEN 314 violation but disturbing peace. And because the offense is not a sex crime, a conviction will not require you to register as a sex offender.
PEN 602 Trespass
PEN 602 prohibits you from entering someone’s property or premises without consent. It is filed as a misdemeanor whether you had criminal intent or not. You will face aggravated indecent exposure charges when you enter someone’s property without permission while exposing your genitals. Besides, you will face additional burglary charges if you trespassed to commit an indecent exposure crime.
Find an Experienced Pasadena Sex Crimes Lawyer Near Me
An indecent exposure sentence will be embarrassing for you and your family. And because of the obligation to register as a sex offender, a conviction will severely dent your personal, social and professional life, making it crucial to work with an experienced lawyer to craft solid defenses. At the Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm in Pasadena, we will argue that your behavior was an accident or you were misidentified to reduce the charges or sentence. Call us today at 626-628-0564 for a free case discussion.