How to Beat an Indecent Exposure Charge in California

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Have you been charged with indecent exposure in California? If so, you need to understand the law so you can develop an effective defense against this charge.

A simple prank could result in a criminal charge that impacts your ability to get a job or decent housing.

You must take this charge seriously and fight it with the assistance of knowledgeable legal counsel.

The criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, have extensive knowledge of this area of law and defend California residents charged with indecent exposure. 

Here, we explain how to beat an indecent exposure charge and provide defense strategy ideas for the accused. If you have questions, please contact us today. 

What Is Considered Indecent Exposure in California?

The California Penal Code says that a person commits indecent exposure when they willfully and lewdly:

  • Expose their naked body or private parts in any public place, or in any place where other people may be offended or annoyed by the exposure; or
  • Encourage or assist someone in exposing themselves in public or in taking part in any model artist exhibition if the exposure is offensive to decency or designed to excite vicious or lewd thoughts.

This means that even if you didn’t expose yourself, but you simply encouraged someone else to do so, you can receive an indecent exposure charge as an aider and abettor.  

What Is the Charge for Indecent Exposure?

The charge for indecent exposure depends on the circumstances. Indecent exposure is usually a California misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in county jail. 

A second conviction turns this crime into a felony, punishable by imprisonment.

A person previously convicted of sexual assault of a child or dependent receives an upgraded felony charge for indecent exposure.

If you expose yourself in a person’s residence, the indecent exposure charge becomes “aggravated” and can be upgraded to a felony.

Also, an indecent exposure conviction requires you to register on the California sex offender registry for 10 years.

When your name appears on this list, it makes it difficult to get a job or find decent housing. 

So, an indecent exposure charge can lead to serious consequences, including time in prison.

Therefore, you must take it seriously and pursue a legal strategy to get the charge reduced or dismissed.

Call or fill out the form to arrange a free consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney.

What Are Defenses Against Indecent Exposure?

While an indecent exposure charge carries potentially serious consequences, you may use these defenses to attempt to get your case dismissed.

You Lacked Intent

California indecent exposure law requires that a person “willfully and lewdly” expose themselves or encourage someone else to do so.

This means that an accidental exposure, such as your pants falling down, would not satisfy the “willful” conduct requirement.

The Legal Information Institute at Cornell defines lewd conduct as “indecent, obscene, or lascivious” conduct. In other words, the conduct has sexual intent.

A defense against indecent exposure could assert that you lacked sexual or offensive intent. For instance, nude models often lack offensive or sexual intent.

Rather, they display their body for the purpose of artistic study. Also, if you urinate in public without the intent to sexually offend others, this should not qualify as indecent exposure.

You Were Not in Public

You could argue that you were outside the view of the public when you exposed yourself.

For instance, sunbathing in your backyard should not count as indecent exposure, even if a neighbor peeks through the fence and looks at you.

Someone Made a False Allegation

Sometimes people lie or mistakenly accuse someone of indecent exposure. The person who accuses you of indecent exposure must have sufficient evidence to support the claim.

Your defense attorneys will work to refute your accuser’s evidence and poke holes in their claim that you intentionally exposed yourself.

Don’t Face Indecent Exposure Charges Alone: Reach Out to The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC

If you were charged with indecent exposure, you need the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney.

Your reputation, livelihood, and freedom depend on successfully defending yourself against these charges.

At the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, we have tried well over a hundred criminal cases to jury in our decades of practice, developing a thorough knowledge of successful criminal defenses.

The media has consulted us over 100 times to comment on criminal law matters because of our extensive experience and knowledge. 

We will devote the extensive resources of our criminal law firm to defending you, providing the passionate representation you deserve.

We will thoroughly explain California indecent exposure law and share every legal option available for your defense.

We work toward the constant goal of preventing these charges from impacting your life. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.

Where You Can Find Our San Diego Office

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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