When mooning does not land your ass in jail for indecent exposure.

When mooning does not land your ass in jail for indecent exposure.

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This Saturday, thousands of people will flock to the city of Laguna Niguel and participate in the 33rd Annual Mooning of Amtrak. It will be those rare occasions when mooning does not land your ass in jail.   Usually, you’ll be in a lot of trouble when you pull your pants down and expose yourself in public. Not only will you be facing an indecent exposure charge, but you’ll be required to register as a sex offender for life if convicted. Moreover, being a registered sex offender subjects you to the very stringent provisions of Jessica’s Law which you can read about here. Fortunately, showing your cheeks for everyone to see doesn’t automatically make you guilty of indecent exposure  California Penal Code Section 314 defines “indecent exposure” as

Every person who willfully and lewdly, either:

1. Exposes his person, or the private parts thereof, in any public place, or in any place where there are present other persons to be offended or annoyed thereby; or,

2.Procures, counsels, or assists any person so to expose himself or take part in any model artist exhibition, or to make any other exhibition of himself to public view, or the view of any number of persons, such as is offensive to decency, or is adapted to excite to vicious or lewd thoughts or acts.

In the case of In Re Dallas W. (2000) 85 Cal. App. 4th 937, the California Court of Appeal held for a person to be convicted under this statute, the defendant must have exposed himself lewdly by intending to “direct public attention to his genitals for the purposes of sexual arousal, gratification, or affront.” In that case, a 16 year old boy was walking with his friends on the road and mooned passing traffic twice.  Since the lower court only found the defendant bared his body only “to annoy and affront people” and that he “did not act with sexual intent … to arouse himself or a third person”, the defendant could not be convicted for indecent exposure.  It should also be noted that he wasn’t found to pull his pants down for a “sexual affront.”[1]

Nonetheless even if you moon people without sexual intent or “sexual affront”, the prosecution can still try to prove otherwise and an unsympathetic jury might convict you for doing something stupid even if your actions don’t warrant a indecent exposure conviction.   Moreover, you can still be facing criminal misdemeanor charges for being a nuisance as the court in Dallas forewarned.[2] However, it’s definitely better to live your life as a nuisance than a registered sex offender.

If you’re seeking legal advice, feel free to contact me here at the Law Offices of Mark A. Gallagher: (800) 797-8406 or email: hans.socaldefense@gmail.com

People participating in Moon Amtrak. Photo: AFP/Getty Images


[1] Compare People v. Archer (2002) 98 Cal. App. 4th 402. Court ruled defendant guilty of indecent exposure for sticking out his penis and yelling, “suck my dick”, to a female driver in a fit of road rage. Court found defendant’s actions were for purposes of “sexual affront.” According to the court’s explanation, “affront” is synonymous for “offend” or “insult.” Therefore, someone who exposes himself for the purposes of sexually insulting or offending another person is guilty of indecent exposure.

[2] See California Penal Code Sections 370 & 372.

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