A Los Angeles-area man has been arrested for a handful of crimes, including indecent exposure, after hugging a young teen girl while naked. According to reports, the man, who appeared to be under the influence of drugs, was wandering around a neighborhood and asking to go inside random homes. Concerned neighbors called the police, but not before he had the chance to take off his clothes and go into a residential backyard. Dogs outside of the family home began to bark, which prompted a young teen girl to go outside. The man allegedly grabbed and hugged her while completely naked.
What is Indecent Exposure?
Indecent exposure, as defined in Penal Code 314 PC, is the crime of exposing your private parts to another person with the intent to sexually gratify, offend, or annoy. It’s actually a very broad offense that can cover a wide range of behaviors.
When a person is accused of indecent exposure, the state has the burden of proving they:
- Willfully and lewdly;
- Exposed his private parts; and
- In a public place or any place in which there are others who would be annoyed or offended.
Willfully: Willful acts are those that are done with purpose and intent. This prevents simple accidents, like forgetting to zip the fly of your pants, from evolving into criminal acts.
Lewd: Lewdness refers to the intent behind the act. Lewd can mean doing something with the intent to:
- Sexually gratify or arouse yourself
- Sexually gratify or arouse another person, or
- Offend another person in a sexual way.
Public or Private Place With Others: You can be charged with indecent exposure if you committed a lewd act in public or in a private place where other people, who are likely to be offended or annoyed, are present. Whether or not a person would be offended or annoyed is a question of fact. It will depend on the specific circumstances of each specific case.
Indecent Exposure Can Be a Misdemeanor or Felony
Indecent exposure is typically a misdemeanor in California. Without any aggravating circumstances, indecent exposure is punishable by:
- 6 months in a Los Angeles County jail; and/or
- $1,000 in fines.
Indecent exposure can also be charged as a felony. The charges can be aggravated when indecent exposure occurs in an inhabited dwelling (e.g., house, building) that you didn’t have permission to be in. In certain cases, the crime can still be charged as a misdemeanor. Felony indecent exposure is punishable by:
- 16 months to 3 years in a California state prison; and/or
- $10,000 in criminal fines.
Whether or not you face misdemeanor or felony charges will depend on the specific circumstances of your case.
Indecent Exposure Conviction Requires Registration as a Sex Offender
Anyone convicted of indecent exposure in California will be required to register as a Tier One Sex Offender with the state. This is true whether you are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. Tier One Sex Offenders are required to register with the state for a minimum of 10 years. The 10-year period begins once you are released from detention and custody.
Failure to register with the state as a sex offender can make you vulnerable to additional criminal charges and penalties. Once you have successfully complied with the terms of the registry for 10 years, you have the right to file a petition to terminate your status as a sex offender.
Defending Indecent Exposure Charges in Los Angeles
Even though you have been charged with a crime, you still have the power to fight for your future. The state has to prove that you are guilty of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. You can make this difficult for them by asserting a strong defense. The best defenses will explain, excuse, and/or justify your alleged behavior.
Defenses can include:
- False accusation
- Mistaken identity
- Acts not done in public or in view of others
- The victim should not have been offended or annoyed
- Illegal search and seizure, or
- Unlawful arrest.
You also have the option of attacking the state’s evidence against you and undermining their case. Get help by visiting our guide on the questions you need to ask when hiring a criminal defense attorney.
It’s important to defend yourself against any criminal charges in Los Angeles. Hiring an attorney will help you secure the best result in your case. Call our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers today to schedule a free consultation.