Penal Code 314 PC - Indecent Exposure Law in California
California Penal Code 314 PC defines the crime of indecent exposure as when someone willfully exposes their naked body or genitals to another person who could be offended or annoyed in a public place.
Of note is that the “exposing” has to be done with the intent to draw public attention to their genitals for the purpose of sexual gratification or to offend someone. In other words, the intent is the primary element of the crime in PC 314 prosecutions.
Indecent exposure is purposefully exposing yourself in public when the exposure is commonly considered a lewd act, just out of place, and not normal.
Indecent exposure does not include accidental nudity or nudity while believing you are alone. It also does not include exposing your underwear or a woman's breast, as indecent exposure only involves genitalia.
Indecent exposure is a misdemeanor for a first conviction, but it has other more severe and potentially devastating ramifications if you are convicted.
For example, suppose you are convicted of a second indecent exposure case. In that case, you could face aggravated felony charges that carry up to three years in state prison.
Further, you must register as a sex offender, and your name will remain on the registry for at least ten years. Let's review this state law in more detail below.
What Does the Law Say?
As noted, indecent exposure, obscene exhibitions, and bawdy and other disorderly houses are defined under California law.
Penal Code 314 PC says, “Every person who willfully and lewdly, either: (1) Exposes his person, or the private parts, in any public place, or where there are present other persons to be offended or annoyed thereby; or, (2) Procures, counsels, or assists any person so to expose himself or take part in any model artist exhibition, or to make any other exhibition of himself to public view, or the view of any number of persons, such as is offensive to decency, or is adapted to excite to vicious or lewd thoughts or acts is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
As noted, one of the primary elements of the crime that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be convicted of Penal Code 314 PC indecent exposure is that your act of public nudity was sexually motivated. Therefore, unintentional exposure is not considered illegal, nor is “mooning” someone a prank.
“Willfully” means on purpose. To “expose” yourself means that you have revealed your naked body. To expose your “private parts” means to display your bare genitals. As noted, this law requires that you specifically intend to draw attention to your genitals.
What Are the Related Crimes for PC 314?
The indecent exposure law in California has several related offenses that can be charged along with Penal Code 314 PC, including the following:
- Penal Code 647(a) PC – lewd conduct in public;
- Penal Code 647(b) PC – solicitation of prostitution;
- Penal Code 288 PC – lewd acts with a minor;
- Penal Code 602 PC – trespassing;
- Penal Code 415 PC – disturbing the peace;
- Penal Code 459 PC – burglary.
What Are the Penalties for PC 314?
As noted, indecent exposure is a misdemeanor for the first offense. If convicted, you could face the following:
- A fine of up to $1,000;
- Up to 6 months in jail;
- A 10-year minimum registration as a sex offender under PC 290.
If you are convicted of a felony, then the penalties include the following:
- 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison;
- a maximum fine of $10,000;
- mandatory PC 290 sex offender registration.
Of note is that it does not matter if you are convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor indecent exposure charge; you will most likely have to register as a sex offender.
Any person convicted under this statute will face the same penalties regardless if she is a minor or an adult.
If you are charged with a second or subsequent indecent exposure offense, the charge is automatically escalated to a felony.
Suppose you commit indecent exposure in an inhabited home, trailer, or building or enter a structure without permission for indecent exposure. In that case, you could be charged with “aggravated indecent exposure,” a wobbler.
What Are the Defenses for PC 314?
There is a wide range of potential strategies our California criminal defenses lawyers can use against charges of PC 314 indecent exposure, including the following:
- Lack of intent for sexual gratification;
- Exposing genitals was not intentional;
- Exposure was not in public;
- Insufficient evidence;
- Mistaken identity;
- False allegation.
One of the essential strategies in criminal defense is to see if the prosecutors have the evidence against you.
Sometimes they do; sometimes, they don't. If they don't, we have to figure out how to employ that best to help you. Sometimes they don't have all of the evidence, but they have enough so you will be convicted.
In that scenario, we want to work out a deal to a lesser charge, keep you out of jail, and set things up so that you can protect your record now and into the future.
If they've got good evidence against you for indecent exposure and it looks like they're able to get a conviction, then we will want to put together a mitigation package and work out a deal with the prosecutors. Many factors go into that, such as the following:
- They're going to look at your criminal record;
- They're going to look at what you did;
- Was it violent, or did you hurt anybody;
- They will look at what makes sense based on the cases they've handled.
Another big thing we can do regarding criminal defense and strategies is figure out who our prosecutor and judge will be.
The final thing is to really sit down and put together a game plan, step by step, that we can execute as a team, merging towards getting you the result you must have.
Whether that's fighting the case in a jury trial, getting experts, getting a psych evaluation – whatever the case is as it relates to you, that's what we're going to do, and we're going to do it effectively. Pick up the phone. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. Let my 30 years of experience work for you. The Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles, California.