California Penal Code 314, considered an indecent exposure a misdemeanor crime, in which established a crime of indecent exposure as "every person who willfully and lewdly, exposes his person, or the private parts thereof, in any public place, or in any place where there are present other persons to be offended or annoyed thereby". In order words, it is crime in California to expose your genitals, to show one's sexual organs to someone else with intention to offend another person or get self gratification from it.  The most common conduct that could lead someone to a conviction, is when a guy walk naked in the middle of the street.

Examples Of Indecent Exposure

  • A female baring her breasts in a crowded restaurant in order to sexually gratify her boyfriend.
  • A guy who exposed his genitals to girls in the middle of a park.
  • An adult male standing on a street corner "flashing" his genitals to females who walk by for sexual gratification purposes.
  • Woman that showed her breasts in a nightclub to get self gratification.
  • Walking to a pharmacy with no pants and no underwear on.

In order for someone being convicted of indecent exposure, the prosecution must prove into court the following factors:

1. The defendant willfully exposed his/her genitals in the presence of another person or persons who might be offended or annoyed by the defendant's actions.

2. When the defendant exposed himself/herself,  he/she acted lewdly by intending to direct public attention to his/her genitals for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying himself/herself or another person, or sexually offending another person.

Let's explain in details those elements of indecent exposure for better a comprehension. These conditions are essential for someone being convicted of this type of offense, if the prosecution does not prove these elements, a person should not be convicted of sexual battery.  San Diego Criminal Defense will work to prove the innocence of its clients.


The first element that prosecution needs to prove to initiate the indecent exposure charge is the willful action of the defendant. A person is acting in a willful way, when the intention is to do something on purpose, even if there is no intent to hurt someone, gain advantage or break the law.

The evidence necessary to proof an indecent exposure is that the person, the defendant, willfully committed a conduct that by its nature engaged in naked self-exposure.

EXAMPLE: Samantha was at the beach, and at some point she wanted to get inside the water, however the waves were too big, the moment that she dove into the water, she lost her bikini bottom and her intimate parts were exposure. When she got out of the ocean, there were a lot of people standing by the sand.

In this case, Samantha could not be convicted of indecent exposure, since she did not act with intention to show her intimate parts to another person, it was an accident.

Expose Your Genitals

California rules described a crime to expose your intimate parts, or as being naked in public to get yourself gratification or to offend another person. Furthermore, Courts had established that you should not be guilty of this offense, if you expose your underwear or reveal a female bare breast. The statute is vague about what a person is not allow to expose, the statute defined the crime of "exposing the private part", however, depending on the culture, a private parts could have a different types of interpretation. The Courts are clear in the sense that you are prohibited to expose to another person one's of sexual organs, penis, breast, anus or vagina. The element of this crime is just to expose, does not mean that for the crime to occur, the victim need to observe or see the defendant exposed genitals. 

EXAMPLE: Christopher went to the beach wearing a robe, suddenly, he opened it in front of two girls, however he just revealed lace underpants.

In this case, Christopher should not be guilty of indecent exposure,  even if he offended the girls, he did not intent to exposure his genitals.

The Victims Were Offended Or Annoyed By The Defendant's Actions

As explained above, in order for someone being guilty of indecent exposure, the victim of the indecent exposure must be offended by the conduct of the defendant.  Even if the victim did not get offended by the exposure, a person still could be guilty of this crime, so long as the victim gets annoyed by the defendant's actions.  However, if you were naked in a secluded area and a person shows-up, you should not be convicted of this crime.

The Defendant's Intent To Direct Public Attention To His Private Parts

In California, the statute established that the defendant must had intention to expose his private parts to a direct public. Thus, indecent exposure is a specific intent, in which the person wanted to have attention to his genitals. Furthermore,  if you do not have intention to get direct attention to your genitals, you should not be convicted of indecent exposure.


Joe always goes to a private beach next to his house, since it is an isolated beach, he usually get naked. However, one day he fell asleep at the beach and a family arrived at the beach, saw a guy naked laid down and called the police.

In this case, Joe should not be guilty of indecent exposure, since he did not intent to exposure his genitals to get direct public attention and he assumed he was alone at the beach.

For The Purpose Of Sexual Arousal Or Sexual Offending

The prosecution must prove into court that the defendant acted with purpose of sexual arousal or sexual offending.  For instance, if you do not have intent to expose yourself for sexual arousal, it is likely that you won't be convicted of this offense. The statute requires that the exposure was for the purpose of lewd or sexually motivation. Sexually motivation could be understanded by intent to gratify or arouse yourself or someone else sexually or intent to offend someone else sexually.

For instance, a minor who mooned oncoming traffic was not convicted in California, on the ground that his acts were not sexually motivated. In re Dallas W. (2000) 85 C.A.4th 937, 102 C.R.2d 493.

However, if the defendant displayed his genitals to another driver while making a lewd comment in an act of road rage, could be guilty of indecent exposure. In this case, Court established that the defendant did not have intent to arouse himself or a third person, but just the fact that he exposed himself for purpose of sexual affront was enough to satisfy this crime.

Penalties For Penal

An indecent exposure is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by both the fine and imprisonment. Additionally, the defendant could face a register as a sex offender for a lifetime.

If the defendant committed the exposure inside a inhabited home, trailer or building, without permission to enter. The offense could be charged as either misdemeanor or felony.  This is called wobbler in California, the prosecution has an option to charge the defendant with both crimes.

If someone was charged as a felony, the penalties could be aggravated depending on the facts of the case, a felony is punishable by a fine not exceeding 10 thousand dollars ($10,000) or by imprisonment in county jail not from sixteen (16) months to three (3) years, or both fine and imprisonment. In addition, the defendant could be face a register as a sex offender for a lifetime.

Legal Defense

San Diego Criminal Defense fights to built a strong defense to ensure our client's right. An indecent exposure conviction could destroy the reputation of an innocent person and our team works closely and respectful with our clients that were accused of this crime.  As mentioned already this offense is a misdemeanor in California and in some cases could be a felony, if a person is convicted with this type of crime, she/he will going to be face a misdemeanor or felony as a sex offender. If you are looking for a job and the employer does a criminal background check and notice that you have an conviction of felony or misdemeanor, it is likely that the employer won't hire someone.  If you have been charged with this type of crime, you should promptly look for a Lawyer. San Diego Criminal Defense has a great deal of success defending our clients and we can help you build legal defenses that it could be used to contest these types of charges. If you would like more information, please contact our successful staff to help you with your legal problems. 

To contest the charges, San Diego Criminal Defense would be able to use the following legal defenses, if that is the case:

  • Insufficient evidence

In order for someone to be guilty of this type of offense, the prosecution must prove all the elements of the crime and the jury must believe beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime.  If the prosecution does not prove all the elements, you could not be convicted of indecent exposure.

  • Wrongfully accused

Under the rules of Californa Law, it is too easy for a victim falsely accuse another of committing this crime, sometimes the cause of action is out of anger, revenge or jealousy. However, San Diego Criminal Defense knows how to protect its clients from wrongfully accusations. If this is your case, contact an attorney promptly.