Is it a crime to be naked in public in California?
Yes and no. Yes, we do have this log called indecent exposure which is a misdemeanor but it requires you to be a sex offender for life if you’re convicted, it’s a serious offense and we see it charged a lot but the fact is that it’s really only indecent exposure if you are being an exhibitionist. If you are getting sexual arousal from being naked if you’re trying to rouse yourself or other people or create a scene but if you’re simply changing at the beach if you’re simply changing in your car, if you’re having sex in your car but you’re trying to stay secluded and not offend anybody or not be seen then it’s really not indecent exposure.
You can still get arrested, people get arrested all the time even what they do doesn’t really meet the element of the crime. So, I would not advise it. If you want to be safe you want to stay out of trouble I would say don’t be naked in public. But just because you get caught naked in public that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve committed a crime.
Now, indecent exposure is a wobbler, it could be filed as a felony or misdemeanor. Usually, it’s filed just as a misdemeanor but the terrible thing about being convicted of indecent exposure is that it requires you to be a registered sex offender for life. So, if you’re convicted even as a misdemeanor you’ll have to register the rest of your life as a convicted sex offender.
Therefore I would advice anybody who’s charged with this crime not to plead guilty but to see an attorney and you everything that you can to keep this off your record.
We had a client recently who was so over at the beach and Santa Monica. He came in from the water he was changing over in the parking lot and he was naked for a few moments while he was changing and some people saw the man and reported it and he was charged with indecent exposure. But we went to court and we demonstrated that he was not trying to exhibit himself. That he was not trying to draw people’s attention. That he was not doing this for any sort of sexual gratification but he was simply changing and ultimately the charges were dismissed.