crime of indecent exposure


Under California Penal Code 314 PC, the violation of this section is considered as misdemeanor offense. The conviction of having committed California indecent exposure may result in imprisonment and a lifetime inclusion on California’s sex offender registry list. Nowadays, it’s easy to locate sex offenders if he or she has internet connection. Being on such list may cause trouble while obtaining employment or taking advantage of certain assistance programs.
Below, The Margarian Law Firm will introduce you the main elements of the California Indecent Exposure Law. Moreover, in the resources of our site you can find detailed information about different kind of Sex Crimes in California.
1. Definition of Indecent Exposure under California Law
2. Elements of the Crime of Indecent Exposure in California
3. Punishment for Committing Indecent Exposure in California
4. Defenses to the Accusations of Indecent Exposure
5. Related Articles

Additionally, we are ready to provide answers to your initial questions concerning sex crime charges in California for free.

1. Definition of Indecent Exposure under California Law

According to California Penal Code Section 314 every person is guilty of indecent exposure in California if he or she willfully and lewdly:
· exposes his person (or the private parts) in public or in any place where there are other persons to be offended or annoyed;
· procures, counsels, or assists any person to act in a way that is offensive to decency, or is adapted to excite to vicious or lewd thoughts or acts (ex. 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).

Every person who offends or annoys people in public exposing his person after having entered dwelling house/part of a building/trailer coach without consent as defined in Section 635 of the Vehicle Code, or the inhabited portion of any other building, is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding one year.
Upon the second and each subsequent conviction under this section after a previous conviction under Section 288, every person so convicted is guilty of a felony, and is punishable by imprisonment in state prison.
Simply exposing yourself (even if you intentionally draw public attention to your genitals) with no sexually motivated intends or an intent to do it with a “lewd” is not considered as “indecent exposure”.

Example: standing on a street corner and “mooning” (pulling down his pants to reveal his bare buttocks) cars that pass by, is not a case of Penal Code 314 PC indecent exposure, because the mooning was not sexually motivated, but was engaged in as a means of amusing or annoying people in a non-sexual way.

2. What Do Prosecutors Need to Prove in Order to Convict of California Indecent Exposure?
To prove that the defendant is guilty of “Indecent Exposure”, the Prosecution must establish the following factors:
1) The defendant willfully exposed his or her genitals in the presence persons who could be offended or annoyed by the defendant’s actions;
2) When the defendant exposed the genitals, he or she acted lewdly by intending to direct public attention to the genitals for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying himself or herself or another person, or sexually offending another person.
Also to obtain a conviction for violating California Penal Code Section 314, prosecutors must be prepared to provide sufficient evidence that you intentionally revealed yourself (i.e. your whole naked body or genitals) in public or where someone could see you knowing the act would be insulting or did so for sexual arousal for yourself and/or for others.
Exposing your genitals isn’t enough; they must be exposed with the intent of directing attention to them. California Penal Code 314 PC requires that you specifically intend to draw attention to your genitals.

3. What Penalties Will I Face for Violating California Indecent Exposure Law?
Indecent exposure is a misdemeanor offense which is punishable by:
– a fine of no more than $1000;
– imprisonment in the County jail for up to 6 months;
– mandatory registration in the Megan’s list.
Additionally, there certain circumstances which may aggravate the commission of the crime. According to California Penal Code, if the unlawful conduct takes place inside a residence like someone’s home, fines can be increased and if is charged as a felony, the jail time can be increased by one year. If your indecent exposure is charged as a felony, the convicted may be punished by:
– a fine of no more than $10,000;
– imprisonment up to three (3) years in the California State Prison ;
– mandatory registration as a sex offender.

4. Indecent Exposure Legal Defense
In most states purposefully displaying one’s genitals in public, causing others to be alarmed or offended, is considered as crime by indecent exposure laws. Indecent exposure is often committed for the sexual gratification of the offender or committed to entice a sexual response.
Exposing genitals means to show bare genitals. Not always it can be exposing genitals: ex. a bare female breast is not considered exposing one’s genitals (otherwise breastfeeding mothers might face indecent exposure charges). Similarly, flashing someone under wear, no matter how revealing, is not considered to be indecent exposure.
However, an indecent exposure charge reaches the level of a sexual assault if any physical contact is made.

5. Which Crimes Are Considered to be Sex Crimes in California?
There are a variety of sex crimes that fall under the umbrella of California law, including:

California Sex Crimes


Statutory Rape


Engaging in or Soliciting Lewd Conduct in Public – California Penal Code 647(a)

Oral Copulation by Force or Fear

Sexual Assault Laws

Pimping and Pandering Laws

Prostitution & Solicitation Laws

Internet Pornography

Sex Offender Registration


The Margarian Law Firm aggressively protects the rights of criminal defendants in California. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Direct approach with our clients allows us to easily obtain dismiss or reduction of the charges. Additionally, we provide a flat fee agreed upon before we begin. Feel free to contact us!

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