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Arrested for Indecent Exposure in Silicon Valley or the Peninsula?
There are many different types of sexually-related criminal offenses set out by California law. Not every sex crime involves sexual assault or abuse – in fact, some do not involve any physical or sexual contact at all. One seemingly minor sex offense is called “indecent exposure” and is set out in California Penal Code 314 PC.
While you may be tempted to not take an allegation of indecent exposure as seriously as some other criminal charges, it is important to remember that there may be real consequences if you are convicted of indecent exposure – including a lifetime sex crime registration. While we feel that this punishment is extraordinarily harsh, the good news is that we’ve successfully defended indecent exposure cases for almost 20 years and have found that there are ways avoid or at least minimize the consequences.
What is Considered to be “Indecent Exposure” in Courts in San Jose and San Mateo?
Conduct that you may consider to be criminally “indecent” may differ significantly from that of the California lawmakers who enacted this law, especially because this offense originated in 1872. The best way to define criminal indecent exposure is to examine the elements that a prosecutor must prove in order to convict someone of the offense, which are as follows:
- You willfully exposed your private parts – In order to be convicted of indecent exposure, you had to have the intention to expose yourself. If someone else runs up behind you and pulls down your pants, it does not qualify as indecent exposure because you did not intend to be exposed. Furthermore, the exposure must involve your naked genitals to constitute a crime. For instance, if you just displayed your underwear, it would not be enough to qualify as indecent exposure under Penal Code 314 PC.
- You were present next to someone who may be offended by the exposure – Being in someone’s “presence” does not simply mean being in the same vicinity. For example, if another person was out in the open and you were behind trees or bushes, you could argue that they could not see you directly and thus you were not exposing yourself in their presence. It is important to know that the court will not examine whether each individual was offended or not by the exposure. Whether someone would actually be surprised or offended generally does not hold much weight in this type of case.
- You wanted to draw attention to your private parts to either sexually offend others or for sexual arousal – Exposure while trying to hide from others will not qualify as indecent exposure, as the law requires that you intended others to take notice of your bare genitals. For instance, lying naked in an isolated field where you assume no one would see you should not count as indecent exposure. In addition, the exposure must have a sexual motivation to be a crime. If you were simply “mooning” someone as a prank or engaging in similar non-sexual behavior, you should not be convicted of this offense.
There is also an additional charge of aggravated indecent exposure, which can apply if you are accused of trespassing into an inhabited building or home and exposing yourself within.
As you can see, the requirements for indecent exposure are complex and specific. However, there are still numerous people charged with this offense on a regular basis in the Bay Area. Over the years, we’ve defended clients who were accused of indecent exposure when they were simply urinating in public and accidentally exposed themselves.
If I’m Convicted of Indecent Exposure in San Jose or San Mateo, What are the Consequences?
While flashing genitals may seem relatively harmless to many people in this day and age, the law takes this offense seriously and sets out strict potential penalties for those convicted. The following are some of the consequences you may face if charged with indecent exposure in San Jose and elsewhere in California:
- Indecent Exposure First offense – A misdemeanor charge with a fine up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail;
- Aggravated indecent exposure – This can be charged as a misdemeanor with a fine up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail, or as a felony with a fine up to $10,000 and up to three years in prison;
- Second or subsequent offense – A felony charge with a fine up to $10,000 and up to three years in prison.
It is important to know that a conviction for indecent exposure also requires you to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. If this occurs, it can have an effect on your personal and professional life. For these reasons, it is critical that you have a highly skilled defense attorney who can help to avoid conviction or to minimize the penalties in your case whenever possible.
Should I Call a Criminal Defense Attorney if I have been Charged with Indecent Exposure?
Yes! Because of the potential for sex offender registry and potential jail time, it is essential that you call an experienced criminal defense lawyer – especially one that is experienced with the defense of sex crimes -as soon as possible after you are arrested for indecent exposure. Our strategy is to get involved in the case as early as possible.
Sometimes when a client is under investigation, but hasn’t yet been formally charged, we can intervene in the situation, explain our client’s side of the story and avoid charges from being filed. If this is your situation, then your case is considered to be pre-file.
If you have been formally charged, do not despair. There are still many ways that an experienced sex crime defense attorney can defend you and work to get the charged dropped or significantly reduced.
- Present any possible legal defenses against your charges;
- Challenge the prosecutor’s evidence;
- Negotiate a favorable plea bargain for a lesser charge or sentence;
- Fight against allegations of aggravating factors.
- Represent your rights at all court hearings and trials.
Having the right sex crime defense attorney on your side can often greatly improve the outcome of an indecent exposure case whether your case is in San Jose, San Mateo, Redwood City or Palo Alto. Our goal in all cases is to work to get your charges dropped and to avoid registration. When that isn’t possible we can often negotiate more favorable outcomes that allow you to avoid jail.
Contact a San Jose Indecent Exposure Defense Attorney as Soon as Possible
Being arrested and accused of indecent exposure in California is not something to ever be taken lightly. Every type of criminal charge should be handled by a highly experienced criminal defense attorney, and indecent exposure is no different. If you try to take matters into your own hands, your are unnecessarily risking facing the harshest consequences. With the Law Office of James Dunn on your side, however, you can obtain the most favorable result possible in your indecent exposure case.