Being accused or arrested for a sex crime such as indecent exposure can be devastating, particularly if the arrest arose from a misunderstanding or innocent mistake. You may feel you have done nothing wrong, yet you are handcuffed, taken away in a police car, and booked into jail. You may have little idea of what to do. When charges for a sexual offense, the best thing to do is contact an experienced and aggressive Fresno indecent exposure attorney from Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer.
Indecent Exposure in California
Under California Penal Code (PC) section 314, you can be charged with indecent exposure if you willfully:
- Expose your genitals to the public or in any place where others may be offended or annoyed
- Procure or help someone expose themselves or make an exhibition of themselves to others in such a way that is intended to encourage lewd thoughts or acts.
For prosecutors to obtain a conviction against you, they must prove you intentionally exposed your genitals in a place where others could see you (or got someone else to), and that you did so with the purpose of offending others, or gaining sexual arousal or gratification. However, prosecutors do not have to prove that a member of the public actually saw your or the other person’s genitals.
To learn more about the elements of indecent exposure and what prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, contact an experienced Fresno indecent exposure attorney. Your lawyer will fully explain the law and how to best defend yourself against these accusations.
Examples of Indecent Exposure
Some examples of indecent exposure include:
- Masturbating in a public park when other individuals are around
- Exposing your penis to people walking by on the sidewalk
- Exposing your vagina while sitting on the bus to arouse your significant other.
- Having consensual sex in a store’s dressing room where attendants and other guests come in and out
- Streaking naked across a football field
An important distinction must be made for breastfeeding. While, as a woman, exposing your breasts could constitute indecent exposure, it is not illegal for you to breastfeed in public. Breastfeeding is not lewd, performed for a sexual purpose, or done to offend. If you are arrested for feeding your child in public, immediately contact Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer.
In addition to the above examples, you can commit accidental indecent exposure. An example of this offense is if you accidentally exposed your genitals getting in or out of your car in a store’s parking lot.
Offenses Often Associated with Indecent Exposure
There are a number of sex crimes often associated with indecent exposure, including:
- Lewd acts with a child (PC 288) – A more serious offense than indecent exposure to a child, some crimes specified in this statute are wobblers, meaning they can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
- Lewd conduct in public (PC 647(a)) – A misdemeanor in California, you can face charges for this offense if you’re found to have touched yourself or another person in public with sexual intent.
Penalties for Indecent Exposure
First-time indecent exposure is considered a misdemeanor. If found guilty of this offense, you face up to six months in jail and fines reaching $1,000. If this is not your first offense for indecent exposure or another sex crime, you may face a felony. If convicted of felony indecent exposure, you face a prison sentence of up three years, and a maximum fine of $10,000.
In addition to incarceration, you may have to go through a period of home confinement, electronic monitoring, and probation. Per indecent exposure sentencing guidelines, a judge can also order you to undergo counseling.
The most severe penalty for indecent exposure is sex offender registration. Even if you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you become a Tier I sex offender. As the lowest level of sex offender, you must register for a minimum of 10 years. At the end of the decade, you must petition to be removed from the sex offender registry. This removal is not automatic.
As a convicted sex offender, you may experience a number of collateral consequences. A sex offense conviction makes it difficult to go back to school or get a good job. You may be turned down for apartments, government assistance, and loans. If you are not a U.S. citizen, your immigration status may be affected. You could also lose child custody or visitation. Also, if convicted of felony indecent exposure, you lose your right to own a firearm.
Defending Against Indecent Exposure Charges
If you have been charged with indecent exposure in California, you should speak with a lawyer about your defense options. You may be able to avoid a conviction by proving:
- You did not expose your genitals
- You did not intend to offend, sexually arouse, or sexually gratify yourself or anyone else
- You were not in public
- You reasonably believed you were alone
Contact a Fresno Indecent Exposure Attorney for Help
When facing indecent exposure charges, the best thing you can do for yourself is hire an experienced and aggressive attorney like Michael McKneely. With more than 15 years of experience behind him, he has the knowledge and skills you need to analyze your case and develop the strongest possible defense. He will do everything he can to exonerate you in court. If necessary, he will mitigate the consequences of a conviction.