On an unseasonably warm January day, a woman decided to sunbath topless in Chico City Plaza, according to reports. While the woman was certain that being topless in California is
not against the law, Chico police arrested her for indecent exposure. If convicted of misdemeanor public indecency the woman would face hefty fines, a jail sentence and would be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life.However, the case against the woman was dismissed by the Butte County District Attorney. 1
Why? Because under California law, exposing your breasts in public is not illegal. In fact, while California Penal Code Section 314 makes exposing your “private parts” in public or where another person could be offended is illegal, breasts are not considered private parts.
This is good news for not only topless sunbathers, but also breastfeeding mothers across the state.
Can You Be Convicted of a Crime for Being Topless?
In order to convict you of indecent exposure under PC 314, the prosecution must prove to the court the elements that define the crime. To be convicted, the prosecution must prove that you:
- Willfully exposed your genitals in the presence of someone who could be offended by this, and
- Intended to sexually arouse or gratify yourself by exposing yourself
The law does not require that anyone actually see your genitals, only that you intended for your genitals to be seen.
What is the Punishment for Indecent Exposure? (PC 314)
If the topless woman in Chico would have been convicted of indecent exposure under California Penal Code Section 314, she could have faced up to six months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
The law is harsher if you expose your genitals in a home or building that you entered without permission. In this situation, you could be charged with aggravated indecent exposure, which would increase your jail sentence to one year.
Sex Offender Registration (PC 290)
Because you are exposing yourself for sexual gratification, California law considers indecent exposure as a sex-related crime. This means that you will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life under California Penal Code Section 290 if you are convicted of indecent exposure.
Charged With Indecent Exposure? Call Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one are facing charges of indecent exposure, contact an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney immediately. Our skilled sex crime attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully defending our clients against indecent exposure and other sex crimes. We will analyze the facts of your case and plan a defense strategy that will help you get the very best outcome possible in your case.
With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5425 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.