When does a high school prank result in indecent exposure charges? When it involves nudity and appears in the Red Mountain High School yearbook in Mesa, Arizona. Here is what a San Diego sex crimes defense lawyer can tell you about the case and whether or not a similar thing could happen in California.
It all started when high school football player Hunter Osborn accepted a dare from another boy on his team to expose his penis during the team photo, which was sold to fans throughout the football season and printed in the yearbook. The adults present didn’t notice the prank and, in fact, no one in charge noticed until after the yearbook was distributed to the school’s 3,400 students. When police approached Osborn about the image, he said he was disgusted with himself for taking the picture that way, but the police still arrested the boy and charged him with 69 counts of indecent exposure (one for every person present when the image was taken) as well as felony furnishing harmful items to minors. As most Vista sex crimes attorneys will tell you, high school pranks like this are nothing new, but it is rare for them to result in criminal charges.
Fortunately for the teen, charges were dropped after the local community rallied behind him, but the case remains an interesting study into how the law can be applied in ways it was never intended. In fact, it seems reasonable to wonder if the boy would have also been charged with child pornography if he was under 18 when the photo was taken.
As for how this case would have played out should it take place in San Diego, CA rather than Mesa, AZ, the student probably would have fared a lot better. That’s because California’s indecent exposure and lewd behavior laws require the prosecution prove the action was performed with the intent of sexual arousal. Since this was merely a prank and there is no evidence whatsoever that the young man intended to achieve any sexual feelings from the exposure, he would have a strong defense for his San Diego sex crimes attorney to work with.
If a similar crime were to happen here and the prosecution could prove sexual arousal took place, the perpetrator could face up to six months in jail and $1000 in fines for each of the indecent exposure charges as well as a stint in prison for the felony furnishing harmful items to minors charge. Even worse is that just one conviction for indecent exposure could result in the boy being labeled as a sex offender for the rest of his life. While a San Diego sex crime defense attorney could appeal to the common sense of the jury, a case like this could come down to the letter of the law, which the teen did technically break.
This is why it is always so critical for someone accused of such a serious criminal offense to speak with a top San Diego sex offense lawyer as soon as possible. If you believe you may be under investigation for any type of sex crime, Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Clinton Steeds