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Indecent Exposure

Indecent Exposure Attorney in Santa Barbara

Exposing yourself to others in public can land you in serious legal trouble. The definition of indecent exposure in the California Penal Code 314 PC, occurs when you willfully and lewdly expose your genitals to another person for the purpose of arousal or causing offense. In order to be considered indecent exposure, the exposure must occur in public or in the presence of other people who would be offended or annoyed by the conduct.

If you do not fight these criminal charges you will risk jail time, expensive fines, and the requirement to register with the state as a sex offender. The best way to avoid these consequences is by hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle your case.

A former Prosecutor for the District Attorney’s Offices in Santa Barbara and San Diego Counties, Sanford Horowitz and his legal team will offer you a free consultation, investigate the evidence against you, and recommend practical steps to achieve the best possible results in your case.

Elements Of The Crime

Sex offenses, such as indecent exposure, are among the most serious crimes, especially in the eyes of the law. In order for a state prosecutor to get a conviction in your case, they must establish each element of the crime. This means they must prove:

  1. The defendant willfully exposed his/her genitals in the presence of another person or persons.
  2. The person or persons might be offended or annoyed by the defendant’s actions; and,
  3. The exposure cannot be accidental. It has to be willful or intentional.

Intent and motivation behind the exposure is important. You must have intentionally revealed yourself to someone for the purpose of sexual gratification or to offend them. If this was not your intent than you cannot be convicted for the crime of indecent exposure.

You do not have to be seen to be charged with indecent exposure. The fact is that if you intended for other people to see and took steps to direct another person’s attention to your genitals, it is enough to warrant criminal charges.

If you follow someone into a home or dwell without permission, and expose yourself, you can be charged with aggravated indecent exposure. This crime will be charged as a felony, which carries significantly worse penalties.

Indecent Exposure Penalties

Indecent exposure can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony offense in Los Angeles. The specific charge you will face will depend on the facts and circumstances of your specific case.

You may wonder what would be considered illegal under Penal Code 314 PC. In California, the following acts would likely be considered to be indecent exposure:

  • Streaking across a college campus with the intent to sexually offend others.
  • Sitting on a park bench and masturbating as others in the park walk by.
  • Flashing a group of people in a crowded bar to arouse them.
  • Entering an ex-lovers’ home without permission and exposing yourself with the intent to arouse them.

Misdemeanor Indecent Exposure

A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that is less serious than a felony, though many cases do involve violence to some extent and even death of another person. Indecent exposure offenders will usually face misdemeanor charges. If you are convicted of misdemeanor indecent exposure your penalty may include:

  • Six months to one year in a Santa Barbara County jail.
  • $1000 in fines
  • A requirement to register with the state of California as a sex offender.

Felony Indecent Exposure

Any crime for which you can be incarcerated for more than a year is considered a felony, which is how California distinguishes between misdemeanor and felony criminal offenses. Subsequent or aggravated acts of indecent exposure can be charged as a felony. If you are convicted of felony indecent exposure, your criminal penalty may include:

  • 16 months, two years, or three years in a California state penitentiary.
  • $10,000 in fines
  • A requirement to register with the state of California as a sex offender.

Mandatory Registration as a sex offender

Indecent exposure is considered a sex crime under California’s Penal code, carrying the same penalties as many other sex crimes. This includes the requirement to register with the state as a sex offender for a minimum of ten years. When you are registered as a sex offender in Santa Barbara your ability to work, live, and enjoy the city is limited. In some cases, your child custody or visitation rights may also be rescinded if a court determines that contact with your child is not in the child’s best interest.

Don’t wait to contact Sanford Horowitz to ensure that your legal rights are protected. Call now: (805) 749-5670.



Expungement is available to defendants convicted of either California misdemeanors or felonies provided that:

  • Probation for the offense has been completed.
  • No time was served in state prison for the offense.
  • Time was served in state prison but was served in county jail if the crime been committed after implementation of “Realignment” under Proposition 47.


In California a woman is legally allowed to breastfeed in any public or private location where she is legally allowed to be.  This includes restaurants, airplanes, grocery stores, or any other public place where you and your child are allowed.


A person is guilty of indecent exposure in the second degree when he intentionally exposes his genitals under circumstances in which he knows or should know that his conduct is likely to cause affront or alarm to a person eighteen (18) years of age or older. Indecent exposure in the second degree is a Class B misdemeanor.

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If you have been charged with or arrested for indecent exposure in Santa Barbara it does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted. You can get charged with indecent exposure simply because you were changing clothes at the beach, having sex in the car or urinating while outside. In most of these cases, the perpetrator did not intend for anyone else to see them. The exposure was not intentional, or for any other purpose that would offend.

The state will be required to prove each element of the crime and establish that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It can be difficult to prove indecent exposure charges when you have an attorney defending you. Defenses that can be argued in indecent exposure cases include:

Exposure Was Accidental

If the exposure was not willful or intentional, it does not constitute indecent exposure. If you accidently exposed yourself in public, you did not commit the offense.

For example, if you are walking down the street and your clothing accidently falls off exposing yourself to others, but you pull up the article of clothing right away, it was accidental. Because the exposure was only accidental rather than willful or intentional, it is not indecent exposure.

If you were not trying to exhibit yourself or gain sexual pleasure or cause offense, then it is important that you gain the help of an attorney because you may have a strong defense.


It is easy to be mistakenly identified for indecent exposure, perhaps the alleged offense took place in a dark environment. Perhaps the perpetrator’s face was partially hidden. Perhaps the victim’s view of the perpetrator resembled you from the back. Perhaps you share the same name as the suspected “flasher”.

A criminal defense attorney will try to convince the court that you were not the perpetrator, especially in a situation where the incident took place in a dark location or where the perpetrators identity was intentionally hidden.


If there is insufficient evidence for a prosecutor to show that you in fact committed the crime of indecent exposure, you cannot be convicted of the crime.

If it was too dark for the victim to clearly identify the perpetrator than there is insufficient evidence. Evidence is also scarce if you were in a secluded area where no one was around to be offended by the act, or your intent was not to gratify yourself or offend anyone.

If you are facing a charge of felony indecent exposure, Santa Barbara County defense attorney Sanford Horowitz Criminal Defense, P.C. knows the law and the best strategies for your defense. We have extensive experience representing clients throughout the Santa Maria area and want to help you understand the charges you are facing as well as what your rights are under the law.

If you’d like to schedule a consultation about your case, call (805) 749-5670 or fill out a contact form.

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