Indecent exposure cases are among the most common criminal charges in California. Many people unknowingly end up convicted of this offense and incur hefty charges. In San Diego, the San Diego Criminal Attorney Law Firm helps people accused of indecent exposure and/or other criminal offenses. The firm has experienced attorneys with years of practice of criminal defense according to California Law. Therefore, it is prudent to seek the legal help when charged with the offence, which would otherwise damage reputation and lead to financial loses, in some cases, a decade in jail as punishment.
Understanding Indecent Exposure in California
The legal provisions involving indecent exposure are bound in the penal code 314 of California. CA Penal Code 314 PC makes it illegal to expose one’s genitals publicly and willingly with an aim of causing sexual harassment to someone or a group. Otherwise, the person would be violating the statute and convictable of indecent exposure offense. This law has been applying since its 1872 enactment despite diverse views from the society on the offense. Some of the scenarios of exposing someone’s genitals indecently that could lead to a prosecution include: a female exposing her breasts in a public facility like a restaurant or a class with the intention to give her boyfriend sexual gratification; a male adult by the streets or in a corner showing off his genitals basically to passers-by females with the aim of sexually harassing them; a teenager mostly a boy exposing his genitals to people older than him mostly, the elderly women who are from a function with a targeted aim to offend them.
On the occurrence of the above-identified instances, then the correct legal measure is applicable with satisfaction to the demands of the law. The measure will involve case filing and proving of facts by the prosecution, defending the charges by defense attorneys, and the jury’s decision on whether the victim is guilty.
In most cases, the person showing off their sexual organs publicly might view the activities as simple and normal. However, the statute renders it illegal under the mere fact that the perpetrator’s intention was causing sexual harassment. Therefore, the prosecution of this offense bases on the intent of the defendant, regardless of whether the act led to an actual sexual penetration.
A willful decision to commit the crime would imply that several factors could have led to the decision. Some of these factors include influence of drugs, a mental incapacitation, or simply an act to gain monetary or other benefits from another person. Usually, the prosecutor must prove, with no reasonable doubt to the jury, some elements of the case. For instance, the accused would not be in violation of CA Penal Code 314 PC if the trial doesn’t sufficiently prove that the accused:
- Exposed his/her private parts in public intentionally.
- Did the act in the presence of someone who would be annoyed more easily.
- Acted directly with the intention of the private parts.
- Did so to cause sexual harassment to oneself or a target audience.
- Willingly decided to offend someone else or offend them.
Penalties for an Indecent Exposure Offense
These penalties can be frustrating since the offense seems mere, yet, is among the most common criminal charges on sexual activities in San Diego. Further, the punishments depend on the degrees of the offense.
Indecent exposure of the first degree can subject one to a penalty characterized by an imprisonment of six months in a county jail. This imprisonment term precedes a fine of one thousand dollars. Second degree level of the offense is characterized by severe forms of the act. In this degree, the offense is termed a felony. A felony conviction is more severe compared to a misdemeanor, and would lead to a state prison sentence.
The worst instance of punishment is prescribed in the California Penal Code 314 PC since the perpetrator would register as a sex offender – a nightmare for any person charged with a criminal offense. The convicted would be subject to a minimum of a ten-year duty as a register of a first tier California sex offender. The California Senate Bill 384 created a tier sex registration system that was to reduce the requirement for indecent exposure to ten years, meaning it is applicable in the entire lifecycle.
If an individual is convicted for the first time for indecent exposure but faces a previous conviction for lewd acts, that is charges regarding the intention to cause sexual harassment with child molestation, then the punishment will be imprisonment in a California state prison.
Legal Defenses against Penal Code 314 PC Criminal Charge
The most common defenses that sex crime defense attorneys rely on include:
Insufficient evidence on the crime; the prosecution failed to prove any or all of the Penal
- The accused genitals were clothed properly;
- The Defendant acted in a non-lewdly act;
- There was nobody to be offended;
- No required specifications that would identify indecent exposure were met;
- The allegations were wrong;
- The exposure was accidental, perhaps, under someone else fault or force;
- The accused was not aware if anybody would be offended by the action;
- The rights of artistic performance were granted according to the first amendment.
Most attorneys rely on the basis that the accusations were false and did not meet the maximum requirements for declaring it a crime. This means that the number of witnesses who provided with the information did not offer the desired range of information that will sustain proof that the crime was committed. A skilled sex crimes defense attorney in California understands how to put the above option to determine the case as a wrongful arrest to defend the case.
Furthermore, depending on the specific circumstances of the offense, it is possible to argue that the accused was mistakenly identified as the perpetrator of the act. Maybe the action took place in the darkness where the perpetrator was in a position not to be identified or else they share the exact same name leading to the arrest of one of them mistakenly. There arise several scenarios that would lead to mistaken identification as a perpetrator. Therefore, it is the job of the defense attorney to convince the jury that the alleged perpetrator wasn’t the defendant, and that the charge does not amount to Penal Code 314 violation.
Penal Code 314 PC Indecent Exposure and Similar Charges in California
In California, multiple charges relate to indecent exposure. These offenses are common as they involve the intent for sex, whether from the perpetrator or the victim. The difference, however, depends on penalties (misdemeanor or felony), whether the convicted has to report as a sex offender, whether actual sexual penetration occurred, the parties involved, and so on. These offenses vary in intensity and nature plus the weight they carry towards the targeted persons or groups of people. They include; Penal Code 647 (a) on lewd activities. Doing these activities in public include an individual touching someone or themselves in public with an intention of causing sexual harassment.
When one touches another person or exposes themselves then the prosecutors would file a case for both offenses as per the law. The act of lewd conduct is considered a misdemeanor in California and would not be charged the same way as an occurrence of places not publicly understood, for example, a private room.
Another act relating to the offense is lewd conduct with a minor. This briefly means that exposing one's genitals to minors would lead to a criminal offense. In some cases, the minor (anyone below the age of 18) would face prosecution depending on the circumstances and as the jury deems necessary. This offense is usually more serious than indecent exposure, since it involves minors, and carries a jail term of up to 8 years.
Sexual assault is another common criminal case. It simply means doing something that is not the will of another one either by use of force and fear to catch the attention of someone and to make him/her comply with your demands. This can be evident when one decides to sexually abuse the other one by trying to get hold of her by force and get access to the genitals without the permission from the suffering criminal. According to Penal Code 243.4 governing sexual assault, the perpetrator could get conviction with either a misdemeanor or felony punishments.
As per code 261, the use of violence to sexually penetrate someone would amount to a rape charge. In relation to code 314 PC offence, a person could be charged with both indecent exposure and rape if the perpetrator violently penetrated the victim willingly, after the use of money to lure the act. Rape can occur in a situation where one is threatened either to be killed, use of violence, menace, duress, and by force out of the will of the partner. The victim could also be out of senses of nature, meaning that he/she is not in the position of resisting any sexual advancement. Such a person would get back to senses when the crime has occurred.
Even though a crime of indecent exposure would not require a sex offender registration, a rape convict would have to register and report regularly to law enforcers in accordance with Penal Code 290. Further, attorneys could fight to scrap off a rape charge in case the defender is charged with violating prostitution laws and the rape statute. This move would lead to avoidance of a felony penalty, leaving the possibility of a less severe punishment.
Disturbing the peace. This occurs when someone reacts in a delinquent manner or offensive way to the public. Disturbing peace is not directly comparative to indecent exposure but is rarely used as a plea object by indecent exposure defense attorneys. This is because the act will not subject the one charged to register as a former sex offender.
It is also common for a conviction of indecent exposure with prostitution and solicitation. Under code 247, a person could be guilty of soliciting or prostituting when there is deliberate money involvement to spearhead a sex harassment. Both these cases don’t require a prosecution proof that actual penetration ensued. The intent of the perpetrator is the critical element in the trial of both charges.
Other sex crime offenses that defendants might be charged with alongside indecent exposure include statutory rape and spouse rape. When charged alongside two or more offenses, the defense attorneys would seek to reduce the charges. The aim of this move is to avoid possibilities of felony penalties and registering as a sex offender. When charged with a single offence, the attorneys can use a number of defense strategies to defend the prosecutor’s claims as follows.
Best Defense Strategies for Indecent Exposure.
In cases where indecent exposure is fully figured out then the criminal lawyer can argue out the points below for a ruling that favors the defendant’s expectations.
The attorney can argue out that you did not expose your genitals or the private organs in instances where you only raised up your clothing to expose the waist or the underwear. By this, one can argue out the genitals were not exposed as they were already covered. One can also argue that the exposure did not occur under the presence of another person who would be offended at long last. One might be in the house when he attempted to change the clothes or even in public like the park where one might decide to go to a far-off place to have the privacy of the genitals. The argument can be based on the sense that the exposure did not take place publicly since there was nobody present who would be offended by the act.
The argument can be based on a lack of intent, meaning the accused had no idea or the intention to draw attention from the public towards the already exposed genitals. The prosecution may decide that you exposed your private parts to cause sexual harassment or offend another person. If you did not intend any of these two actions, then you can clearly argue out that you had no intention to do so. The attorney must find an appropriate technique to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt.
One can argue out that it was a mistaken identity since you might be looking familiar to the perpetrator or you might be using the same names leading to the arrest. One can bring out the defenses that can be essential in determining the judgment pertaining himself/herself. This defense can best suit the indecent exposure more appropriately.
An individual who is not of sound mind should not be held accountable for the actions portrayed whether in public with any intention, to cause sexual harassment or offend a particular group of persons. For Example, he/she may lack the mental capacity to understand what actions they are doing whether they comply with the social values towards indecent exposure.
The defendant's age may also be a striking factor in the helping of attorney create a sense of understanding to the judge. The child may have no intention to cause sexual arousal to the public as compared to adults. For instance, if a young teenager probably a girl exposes her breasts in a park simply because the weather is hot does not mean that her intention is to expose her genitals to the public. It's simply because of the weather and this type of defense can be applied to deny the fact that it was an act of indecent exposure.
The defendant can also argue out that during the occurrence of the activity, they were intoxicated with drugs. Simply meaning that they were either drunk hence did not understand what they were doing. This may be considered a mitigating factor by the court and may help reduce the charges pressed upon the case hence the penalties associated with the conviction reduced immensely. Basically, this matters on how the attorney will put the statement in a form that will be of ease to convince the judges.
In short, the indecent exposure defense attorney may inspire doubts to the jury concerning the prosecutor’s or victim’s claims. Similar to prosecution, the defense keeps in mind elements of a conviction such as intent, previous conviction records, and the victim’s age.
Finding a San Diego Criminal Lawyer Near Me
Defending a case, an indecent exposure case or its variant charges requires committed and skillful attorneys. The attorney should be well-versed with the dynamic laws of California, especially when the charges are more than one criminal charge. If accused of these criminal offenses in San Diego and surrounding areas, the San Diego Criminal Lawyer law firm is here to help fight against the charges. Our attorneys help in criminal defense cases through their extensive knowledge of California law. It is always better to seek personalized help rather than responding to police officers or investigators. If you are facing any charges of indecent exposure, reach out to our defense attorneys at 619-880-5474 for immediate help.