Indecent Exposure (PC 314 & PC 314.1)
Law & Punishment
Information on the crime of indecent exposure is found in the California penal code at section 314. This short summary covers the law and punishment related to PC 314, indecent exposure crimes.
In short, indecent exposure means to expose one’s genitals in public for sexual self-gratification, or for the purpose of attempting to sexually arouse or sexually offend another person.
PC 314 Law
To prove that the defendant is guilty of indecent exposure, the district attorney must prove:
The defendant willfully exposed his or her genitals in the presence of another person, and
When the defendant exposed himself of herself, he or she intended to direct public attention to his or her genitals for the purpose of sexual arousal of either the defendant or another person, or to sexually offend another person.
For purposes of PC 314 law, genitals include the male and female genitalia (penis, vagina, anus) as well as a female's breasts.
Note: Willfully exposed simply means that the defendant exposed his or her genitals on purpose. In other words, simply being naked in public, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is not necessarily indecent exposure.
For example, a person urinating in public is willfully exposing his or her genitalia; however, in cases where a person is urinating in public, it is not necessarily an indecent exposure crime. This is because the defendant does not usually intend to sexually arouse himself or herself, or intend to sexually arouse or sexually offend another person simply because he or she is urinated in public.
Intent to Sexual Arouse or Sexually Offend: PC 314 is a specific intent crime. This means that the defendant is not guilty of indecent exposure unless he or she intended to act in a sexual manner when he or she exposed his or her genitalia.
For example, a defendant who shows his penis to a doctor for the purpose of diagnosing a medical issue is not intending to sexually arouse or sexually offend the doctor.
Directed Attention: Willful exposure of a person's private parts, even if it is done in public and with the specific intent to arouse another person is not necessarily indecent exposure if the defendant does not direct the public's attention to his or her private parts.
For example, if a couple are having sex in a park at night, and the couple truly believe that no person can see them having sex, then the couple is not guilty of indecent exposure. This is because the couple did not direct their nudity to the public.
This same scenario comes up when a defendant undresses in front of an open window when he or she does not know that the curtains are open, or even when a person sunbathes without knowledge that someone is watching them sunbathe.
Note: It is a crime to aid and abet another person to commit indecent exposure. For example, a person who encourage another person to engage in indecent exposure is also criminal liable for indecent exposure.
Penalty for PC 314
Indecent exposure may be filed as a misdemeanor or as felony. PC 314(1) is filed as a misdemeanor in most circumstances. However, if the defendant has a prior conviction for PC 314, or a prior conviction of PC 288 (lewd acts on a minor), then any subsequent charge of indecent exposure may be filed as a felony.
Also, felony indecent exposure charge may be filed against a defendant when the defendant enters a home without permission and commits indecent exposure (PC 314(2)).
Jail Sentence: If found guilty of misdemeanor PC 314, the defendant may face a jail sentence of up to 180 days. If the defendant is found guilty of felony indecent exposure, he or she may face a prison sentence of up to 16 months, 2 or 3 years, depending on any mitigating or aggravating factors present in the case, and the defendant criminal history.
Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is period of supervision, as opposed to actual incarceration. Probation is available in some PC 314 case, but a probation sentence after an indecent exposure conviction is not guaranteed.
Note: Probation sentences, when available, are conditioned upon the defendant fulfilling “terms of probation.” The terms of probation can, and usually do, include some jail sentence. However, a jail sentence that is ordered as a term of probation in an indecent exposure conviction may usually be served alternatively on work release or house arrest. For more information, see Probation & Parole for CA Sex Crimes.
Sex Offender Registration: If found guilty of misdemeanor or felony indecent exposure charges, the defendant must register with local law enforcement as a sex offender for at least ten (10) years [Misdemeanor PC 314], or twenty (20) years [Felony PC 314]. For more information, see CA Tier System for Sex Offender Registration.
Crime Involving Moral Turpitude: PC 314 crimes are classified as crimes involving moral turpitude. This means that indecent exposure is considered a morally reprehensible crime. Crimes involving moral turpitude, including indecent exposure, can have severe negative collateral consequences upon conviction, including immigration, professional licensing consequences, and professional licensing consequences.
Criminal Protective Orders: In some indecent exposure cases, the defendant will be served a criminal protective order, or CPO, the CPO is designed to protect any alleged victims of the defendant's conduct from repeat offense.
Defenses to PC 314
There is no perfect defense that necessarily best fits a criminal charge of indecent exposure; however, common defenses to penal code 314 charges include: Implied or express consent (nude beach, nudist colony, or even mass art exhibition may qualify is some situations), insanity, mistake of fact, statute of limitations, coerced confessions, duress, insufficient evidence, jury nullification, and more.
For more information on common defenses to PC 314 crimes, including a discussion of the statute of limitations in PC 314 case, and all post-conviction options, see Defense Strategies in CA Sex Crimes.
If you have been charged with indecent exposure, or penal code 314, 314(1), or 314(2), contact our sex crimes criminal defense lawyers today. Our team of experienced and dedicated defense attorneys will help you understand your rights and options. There is no fee to discuss your case with one of our experienced and successful sex crimes criminal defense attorneys. Our office is open seven days a week to answer your questions.