Having sex outside sounds like a lot of fun, but when California state law can actually ruin your life for doing it, the stakes might be too high.
Even though nudity is legal in San Francisco, having an erection while naked or getting down in public definitely isn’t. According to section 314 of the California Penal Code, it’s a crime “if the act is both lewd (intent to sexually gratify) and willful.” So the naked men in the Castro are fine, as long as they don’t have boners and aren’t having sex with each other on the steps of the Muni station.
If you flash someone or have sex where someone can see you and get a rush off your public display, you’re an exhibitionist.
The law is not in favor of exhibitionists.
If someone sees and reports you having sex outdoors
in San Francisco, you can be arrested for indecent exposure and charged with a misdemeanor. You could go to jail for no more than six months and potentially pay a fine of up to $1,000, according to section 314 of the California Penal Code, but that’s up to the judge. There is no excuse and no defense. You can’t say you accidentally fell on top of your boyfriend while you were taking a leisurely stroll in the middle of the night in Dolores Park. The police just aren’t that stupid.
You might even get charged with lewd and disorderly conduct under section 372 of the California Penal Code as the icing on the cake
If that’s not enough to deter you, section 290 of the California Penal Code requires that all persons convicted of an indecent exposure charge register as sex offenders. You may be able to petition the court to get it off of your record eventually, but until that point, both you and the person you were having sex with on that fateful night will be required to notify local law enforcement of your whereabouts and that information will be posted online for the world to see under Megan’s Law.
This isn’t to say that exhibitionism is wrong or that anyone who’s an exhibitionist should stop immediately and never do it again; however, this is a serious issue that carries serious consequences and as a result must be taken seriously.
But for people who already are exhibitionists, you definitely aren’t alone. Sex clubs offer safe havens for such behavior, complete with equipment and strangers to watch. The internet is also a perfect place to go, with endless sites that let you upload pictures and videos of yourself or live stream yourself naked or messing around.
So feel free to expose yourself to the world; just don’t do it in public.