If you have been charged with the crime of indecent exposure, there are several things that you should know. First, indecent exposure is considered a sex crime in California. Similar to the crime of lewd conduct in several respects, indecent exposure can result in fines, incarceration, and other serious punishments. However, it is equally important to understand that an accusation of indecent exposure does not always end in a conviction. There may be defenses available that can help the accused avoid a conviction or plead to a lower charge with less severe punishments. San Bernardino and Riverside County sex crime lawyer Gregory H. Comings can review the circumstances of your indecent exposure case to determine the defenses that may apply to your situation.
As a “wobbler” offense under California law, the crime of indecent exposure can be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending upon the circumstances. Generally speaking, the maximum punishment for indecent exposure is three years in prison, $10,000 in fines, and registration on the sex offender registry for 10 years or longer. This is a very serious punishment for something that may have started out as a joke or simply a momentary lapse in judgment.
A conviction for a sex offense can be embarrassing, whether it is for indecent exposure, solicitation, or a more serious crime. Registration as a sex offender – while, fortunately, not necessarily a punishment that will last for the rest of the offender’s life due to recent legislation – can affect the defendant’s reputation, standing in the community, and personal relationships for many years. Also, it can take a huge toll on his or her prospects for employment, education, and housing.
Therefore, it is important that someone accused of a sex crime like indecent exposure defend himself or herself to the fullest extent possible under the law. The State of California has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in every criminal case, using legally admissible evidence to prove each element of the crime with which the defendant is charged. One way to defend against a charge in a sex crime case is to negate one or more elements of the crime. For example, an indecent exposure conviction is only warranted if the defendant had a lewd or sexually motivated intent, such as gratifying himself or herself, arousing another person, or sexually offending someone. If the State cannot prove this type of intent, the defendant’s lawyer should be able to get the case dismissed.
The U.S. Constitution may also provide a means of defending against an indecent exposure charge, especially if police overstepped their bounds during the investigation or arrest. Through a motion in limine, the defense attorney may be able to have illegally obtained evidence (such as physical evidence gathered unlawfully under the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unlawful searches and seizures, or a confession obtained in violation of the Fifth Amendment, which guards against self-incrimination) excluded at trial.
Police and prosecutors are in the business of convicting defendants and putting them away in jail or prison for as long as possible, and they will do everything in their power to do so. Thus, a defendant in an indecent exposure or other sex crime case needs a powerful advocate to stand up for his or her legal rights and zealously articulate his or her side of the case. At The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings, we regularly defend people accused of sex crimes like indecent exposure in and around Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. We work hard to obtain favorable results for each client, whether this involves a dismissal, an acquittal, or a reduction in the charge. For an appointment to discuss your case, call us at (951) 686-3457 or contact us online. We also handle other types of sex charges, including serious felonies like rape or statutory rape.