Have you been ARRESTED or contacted by the Police, a Detective, FBI, or CPS?
Indecent Exposure (California Penal Code section 314) is arguably among the most relatively benign sex crimes you can be charged with, and, as such, it is typically charged as a misdemeanor. Notwithstanding, such a conviction can nevertheless have serious, long-term adverse consequences, including sex registration (see below). This is particularly true if the purported victim was a minor, or if you’ve previously been convicted of the same or a similar crime.
The offense itself is self-explanatory, but for the record, it involves you intentionally exposing your genitalia (or, as in the case of Brad Pitt, your buttocks – again, see below) to at least one other person. The gravity of the crime itself can range from something as innocuous as a fraternity prank where you (and your fellow pledges) “moon” a rival frat house during Hell Week, all the way up to you masturbating in front of a group of school children.
FYI, no one needs to actually see you expose yourself – all that’s necessary to secure your conviction is that you intended for at least one other non-consenting person to see you when you did so.
The state Supreme Court now requires that non-violent sex offenders be eligible for early parole. Specifically, just before New Year’s Eve 2020, our state’s highest court unanimously voted to require that all non-violent prisoners, including certain types of sex offenders, be considered for early parole in the absence of extenuating circumstances.
The Court’s decision marked an end to a four-year ordeal following Californians overwhelmingly approving a ballot measure in 2016 that allowed for such early parole eligibility. Specifically, Californians approved of Proposition 57 by a two-third’s vote. See: ballotpedia.org..
During those four years, numerous imprisoned non-violent sex-offender sued the California Dept. of Corrections based on the fact that the DOC had unilaterally excluded all such inmates from early parole eligibility despite the fact that Prop. 57’s language did not allow for such a wholesale exclusion.
As a result, those prisoners’ lawsuits wound their way up to the various Courts of Appeal in California, which all unanimously ruled that such a blanket exclusion in the absence of statutory language to the contrary was patently unconstitutional. No surprise, then, that the California Supreme Court agreed with those appellate courts’ rulings.
As a result, prisoners convicted of non-violent sex offenses such as Indecent Exposure can now petition the parole board for possible early release.
As stated above, Indecent Exposure (Penal Code section 314) is typically – though certainly not always – charged as a misdemeanor. This means this offense is classified as a “Wobbler” (California Penal Code section 17(b)).
In other words, if your Indecent Exposure case is referred to the District Attorney’s Office (which can prosecute misdemeanors and felonies), instead of the City Attorney’s Office (which prosecutes only misdemeanors), then the assigned Deputy DA can charge you with either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the specifics of the alleged incident.
Accordingly, a felony charge will usually result if you’ve previously been convicted of Indecent Exposure or if you (allegedly) exposed yourself after entering a “dwelling” without consent.
Illegally Entering a Residence
Specifically, if you indecently exposed yourself after illegally entering a residence, an inhabited portion of any type of building (such as a mixed-use retail/residential property), or a mobile home, then you will be charged with a felony pursuant to Penal Code section 314.
The actual structure must be one defined as such under California Vehicle Code section 635.
Also, the entry of the residence must constitute a criminal offense; thus, you would also have to be charged with a separate Penal Code violation, such as:
First-Degree Residential Burglary (California Penal Code section 460(a)); or
First-Degree Home-Invasion Robbery (California Penal Code section 459).
Previous Conviction for Indecent Exposure or Lewd Acts with a Minor
Alternatively, if this is at least your second Indecent Exposure conviction, you will be charged with a felony. So, too, if you were previously convicted of Lewd Acts with a Minor Child Under 14 (California Penal Code section 288).
Under any of the preceding felony scenarios, the charge will be known as “Aggravated Indecent Exposure”.
The more innocuous/relatively benign the alleged sex crime, the better chance you have of favorably disposing it at the earliest stages – i.e., either before the investigating detective refers your Indecent Exposure case to the City Attorney’s Office or District Attorney’s Office for prosecution; or even after the assigned prosecutor has filed charges against you.
More specifically, if your lawyer is able to jump on the case quickly enough (hopefully in conjunction with an experienced, competent private investigator), you should be able to compile and present enough exculpatory evidence to, again, convince either the detective or the prosecutor to forestall a full-blown criminal prosecution.
Similarly, if you’re being accused of more serious crimes, such as masturbating in front of a group of children on a playground, then hopefully your attorney can use that same exculpatory-evidence package to convince the Deputy DA (particularly in a felony case) to allow you to plead down to a misdemeanor Indecent Exposure charge in lieu thereof.
And if your attorney is truly talented, he or she should be able to work out a deal where you get zero jail time and perhaps even no sex-offender registration requirement.
If you’ve recently learned that you’re the subject of an Indecent Exposure (or related criminal matter) investigation, you should call us ASAP to find out about your options. But please keep in mind that the longer you wait, the more the authorities will have a vested interest in prosecuting you to the fullest extent possible.
This is California’s codified statute that criminalizes this crime. Specifically, you can be prosecuted for Indecent Exposure if:
a. You exposed your genitalia to someone who was offended as a result thereof;
b. You exposed some other part of your body that caused the same result;
c. You counseled, hired, or otherwise convinced someone to do the same activity described in (a) or (b).
In addition, if you are convicted of Indecent Exposure two or more times, then each conviction after the first will be prosecuted as Aggravated Indecent Exposure (see below).
Alternatively, you can be prosecuted for Aggravated Indecent Exposure if you (allegedly) exposed yourself after “unlawfully” entering a residence (including a mobile home). Please note that you can be convicted of such even if no one was actually home at the time you illegally entered and exposed yourself.
Specifically, this means you did so without lawful consent; for example, by committing First-Degree Residential Burglary (Penal Code section 460(a)).