On Monday, March 9, at approximately 2:15PM a fully nude male was observed casually walking on Lincoln Blvd near the intersection at Pico Blvd, one block from Santa Monica High School. The man appeared to be carrying clothing, but made no attempt to cover his nether regions, which were fully exposed.
Meanwhile, passersby continued to go about their day. Due to the frequency of this behavior as well as lack of enforcement, many Santa Monica residents have become accustomed to seeing fully exposed genitalia while walking down the street.
According to the call logs released by the Santa Monica Police Department, officers responded to a call for “Indecent Exposure Now” that was placed at 2:22PM. The disposition of that incident was “advisal.” This indicates that when officers made contact, the man was either clothed, or they simply told him to put on his clothing and he complied. Based on the call logs, he was not arrested or given a citation.
But…can’t he be arrested?
Indecent exposure, exposing one’s genitals or a lewd act like masturbation, is a misdemeanor. In California, ALL misdemeanors must be physically witnessed by the police for them to make an arrest or conduct a search. In this situation, if officers did not arrive in time to witness the indecent exposure, the only way that this man could be charged is if a citizen filed a Private Person’s Arrest (“PPA”), also known as “citizen’s arrest.” Again, this is the case with ALL misdemeanors. A PPA must be filed in “a timely manner” and the perpetrator must be apprehended within that timely manner. Otherwise it is a lapsed misdemeanor.
But there’s video evidence!
Police cannot make a misdemeanor arrest based on video/photographic evidence. However, it can be helpful for proving a case in court once a PPA is filed by a citizen. Furthermore, a defendant cannot be convicted of indecent exposure simply for walking around naked. California Penal Code §314 requires that the defendant act with intent. This means that the facts must show that the defendant intended to direct attention to his genitals, in the presence of someone who was likely to be offended and for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification. Based on the video above, it would be unlikely that this could be proven.
However, let’s assume that a citizen pursued a PPA against this individual and that he was found guilty of the offense…then what? Because indecent exposure is a misdemeanor and our jails are overflowing with inmates (many of whom have been convicted of more serious crimes), it is highly unlikely that this individual would serve any significant time. The most likely case is that this man would receive a citation and go on with his day. In the event that the defendant is sentenced to jail time, he/she will probably be released with a “short sentence” having served only days of the full sentence (there are many reasons for this, which could be an entire post on its own).
But isn’t this a crime?
Indecent exposure is categorized as a Part 2 Crime (quality of life crime) but it is not included in the FBI statistics for violent or property crimes that are readily published (i.e., Part 1 Crimes). Additionally, simply calling the police when you see a person engaging in indecent exposure (or another misdemeanor) would not be enough to document the incident so that it is counted in our city’s crime statistics. Police calls that are closed with the dispositions of “advisal,” “gone on arrival” or “file only” are not documented crimes. Only those incidents that result in an arrest (either by police or PPA) or where the victim files a police report are factored into city crime statistics. Given that a crime like indecent exposure is only a misdemeanor and the penalties for a conviction (absent circumstances that would rise to the level of aggravated indecent exposure) are very light, it is often not worthwhile for the officer to spend time on such an incident when there may be more urgent calls to attend to. Thus, while we continually see an increase in “crimes” taking place around us, many of these “crimes” are not documented and ultimately, are not reflected in our city’s crime statistics.
Until we are able to elect new leaders and our current laws and policies change–specifically laws addressing quality of life crimes and the underlying addiction and mental illness issues of those who often commit these crimes–unfortunately, there is not much that we can do. However, if you are a victim of a crime, always demand a police report, even if you have been told that “it won’t make a difference.” In the event that you witness or are a victim of a misdemeanor, and you are able, insist on filing a PPA. This is the only way that we can ensure that our city accounts for the many incidents of crime that are currently going undocumented.
Did you happen to see this man or have any other information about the incident? Please comment below or contact us.
You can view the unedited video on our Twitter feed by clicking here. WARNING: the full video is graphic and not intended for viewers under 18 years of age.
All subjects of postings herein are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law or administrative action, and any and all crimes are alleged until a court or regulatory agency determines otherwise. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.