Stephen Ponte Garcia, a registered sex offender with an extensive criminal record was charged with two counts of indecent exposure after exposing himself to women on Orange County buses. Garcia pleaded guilty to both felony counts of indecent exposure with prior convictions and was sentenced to 3 years in prison by the judge.
Garcia was arrested in October after a three-week investigation that began when police received an anonymous tip in September. Investigators used camera footage on the buses to quickly identify Garcia, who had a history of indecent exposure convictions going back 10 years. His criminal history also included charges of petty theft and possession of a controlled substance.
Indecent Exposure is covered under California Penal Code 314 PC, and is described as willfully exposing one’s genitals to someone else, motivated by a desire to sexually gratify oneself or to offend the other person. In cases involving a first-time offender, 314 PC is almost always charged as a misdemeanor, with the possible penalties including up to 6 months in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and a lifetime obligation to register as a sex offender.
If an individual exposes themselves in an inhabited home, trailer or building and entered the space without permission, it’s possible to be charged with aggravated indecent exposure; a “wobbler.” A “wobbler” is a crime that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case. If charged as a misdemeanor, aggravated indecent exposure carries the same penalties as mentioned above. If charged as a felony, the possible penalties include 16 months to 3 years in California state prison, a fine of u to $10,000 and the obligation to register as a sex offender.
Those who have a prior indecent exposure conviction, even if it was a misdemeanor, will face felony charges their second time around.