In Florida, exposing one’s own genitals in public is often prosecuted as indecent exposure. The laws surrounding indecent exposure in Florida can be quite complicated and confusing. What follows is a basic overview of Florida’s laws on indecent exposure and what you need to know if you find yourself charged with such a crime in Florida courts.
In Florida, indecent exposure generally means the
- exhibition, or
- of sexual organs
- in a public place or within public view.
Generally in order to obtain a prosecution, the state must prove
- unlawful intent by the defendant,
- the act of exposure, and
- that the act was done in an illegal location.
In Florida, prosecutors must first show that the defendant had lascivious, lewd, or indecent intent. Simply being nude in public does not automatically make the act indecent exposure, though some may say that there is a strong presumption in Florida’s courts that one’s intent in being naked is at least indecent.
Also it is important to note that accidental displays are rarely seen as indecent exposure. “Wardrobe malfunctions” and the like do not generally meet the requirements for criminal intent under Florida laws. Nor does public urination, but that is often prosecuted as a different crime.
Finally, the prosecution must prove that the place where the exposure took place was illegal. Exposure in a public place meets the final element, and so does exposure in a private place owned by another. The prosecutor may also prove that the exposure was on a private place owned by the defendant but where the defendant knew or should have known that it could be seen by others.
Several defenses exist to indecent exposure in Florida. A few of them are listed in the statute itself, such as the situation of a mother breastfeeding her baby. Also listed in the statute is the situation of nudity at a place set aside for the purpose of nudity. For instance, a nude beach or an event organized for the purpose of being nude is not considered indecent exposure in Florida.
Another defense is that of accident. As discussed above, an accidental exposure of sexual organs that happens because of a slip of a garment is not considered intentional, much less lascivious, lewd, or indecent.
In Florida a conviction of indecent exposure is a first degree misdemeanor, which could lead to a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000. However, if the conviction is a defendant’s second or more, a conviction becomes a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
In addition, a few aggravating factors may raise the conviction to a second degree felony, such as in the case of a person over 18 indecently exposing himself or herself to a person aged 16 or under. However, if the defendant is under 18, the crime is a third degree felony.
A conviction of indecent exposure may also carry the penalty of being listed as a sex offender in Florida’s registry.