Non-consensual sexual activity is prohibited in Florida, just as it is in every other jurisdiction in the United States. However, there are certain consensual sexual acts that are also illegal in Florida. Though enforcement of laws against consensual sexual activity varies widely, many Floridians find themselves on the wrong side of the law after committing certain consensual sexual acts each year.
Unnatural and Lascivious Act
Florida law makes it illegal to commit an act it calls “unnatural and lascivious” with another person. Although the statute does not give any further definition to the term, it expressly excludes breastfeeding by a mother of her own baby. In the years since the statute was written and adopted in 1917, the United States Supreme Court has taken up cases challenging similar laws to this one in other states and has found that using them to penalize otherwise legal sexual activity between people of the same sex is unconstitutional.
A conviction under this statute is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Breach of the Peace
Another law under which consensual sexual activity can be penalized is breach of the peace. In Florida, a breach of the peace is an act that tends to
- corrupt the public morals, or
- outrage the sense of public decency, or
- affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them, or
- engages in brawling or fighting, or
- engages in such conduct as to constitute a breach of the peace or disorderly conduct.
A conviction for breach of the peace is a second degree misdemeanor.
Florida law prohibits individuals from exposing themselves to others in specific situations. Indecent exposure in Florida occurs when a person exposes or exhibits their sexual organs
- in public, or
- on the property of another, or
- within sight of another’s private property in a vulgar or indecent manner, or
- is naked in public in a vulgar or indecent manner.
Here again, nursing mothers are expressly excluded from the indecent exposure law, and individuals who are nude at a naturist resort are outside the statute as well.
A conviction of indecent exposure is a first degree felony, which could lead to a jail sentence of up to a year and a fine of up to $1,000. However, an individual convicted of indecent exposure a second or subsequent time is guilty of a third degree felony and may be imprisoned for up to five years and fined up to $5,000.
Lewd and Lascivious Behavior
Though rarely enforced, Florida law prohibits an unmarried man and woman from cohabiting and “lewdly and lasciviously” associating. Also illegal is for any person to engage in crude and offensive sexual behavior in public. A conviction under this law is a second degree misdemeanor.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
In Florida, it is illegal to have consensual sex if the perpetrator knows he or she has a sexually transmitted disease but does not tell his or her partner of the disease and obtain consent. Several diseases are listed in the statute, including
- genital herpes,
A conviction under this statute is a first degree misdemeanor, except for in the case of HIV/AIDS. Intentionally spreading HIV/AIDS is a third degree felony the first time, and a first degree felony if done multiple times.