The Santa Rita jail is currently holding a 22-year-old man (name withheld to protect the identity of the accused) for having allegedly committed the crime of indecent exposure. A woman living at the Las Ventanas apartment complex on Vineyard Avenue claims that the young man followed her home after she walked her dog and then proceeded to masturbate in front of her. Other residents of the same complex have complained of at least 1 other similar incident, but it has yet to be proven that this man was responsible in both cases.
Although being charged with indecent exposure (CA Penal Code 314) may not seem like a terribly serious crime, law enforcement officials might beg to differ. Some clarification may be necessary, however, as to what constitutes ‘indecent exposure.’ Does a person simply have to be partially or fully nude in public? The answer is that there cannot be a violation of CA PC 314 unless the public nudity in question was for the express purpose of sexual gratification or offense.
Additionally, the penalties associated with the law against indecent exposure are harsh indeed. If you are arrested for the first time on such a charge, you can expect prosecutors to treat it like a misdemeanor. You can also expect to spend about $1,000 in fines and spend up to 6 months in county jail. However, if you are convicted of a second offense, then your crime is no longer treated as a misdemeanor, but as a felony. Most disturbing of all, even if you are convicted of a first offense misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure, you will be required to register as a sex offender for life, causing perpetual humiliation, continued surveillance by police, and potential problems with employment.