Indecent Exposure

Indecent Exposure Those accused of indecent exposure are often called in the media flashers or exhibitionists, and occasionally they are depicted in cartoons wearing long rain or trench coats. While the reasons some may be compelled to act out in this fashion are likely complex, that is a discussion for another place and time, here the elements that make it a criminal offense are more to the point. The crime is committed when a person willfully and lewdly, “exposes their private parts.” The act must be committed in a public place or in a place open to public view where there are others to be offended or annoyed.1  It also applies to someone who helps or assists another in the commission of the offense.2  Willfully lewd means that the act must be done with a sexual intent, which requires the person committing the act to be doing it for their own sexual gratification or to sexually gratify others (probably wishful thinking in most cases). While this offense is a misdemeanor, if a person has a prior conviction for it or a conviction for a violation of section 288 of the California Penal Code, (child molestation); then the offense becomes a felony.

1 Section 314(1) of the California Penal Code
2 Section 314(1) of the California Penal Code