Displaying, exhibiting or exposing a person’s sexual organs in a public place (or private residence owned by another) can bring indecent exposure charges in St. Petersburg [Fla. Stat. § 800.03]. To bring a conviction, the prosecution must prove the defendant’s clear and “lascivious, lewd, or indecent intent.”
Though misdemeanor indecent exposure is not viewed as a harsh sex crime relative to other such charges, indecent exposure should not be taken lightly. You could face fines, probation, and incarceration if found guilty of indecent exposure in Florida.
Many times, indecent exposure can be difficult to prove, and just as often, people generally don’t understand the difference between this crime and merely an embarrassing moment. Accidental nudity or some other sort of public “wardrobe malfunction” with the absence of intent is not indecent exposure. Neither are the acts of nude sunbathing or public urination in and of themselves because there is generally no lewd intent. But in some cases, other misdemeanor charges that do not rely on the intent of the suspect might be appropriate.
A Fine Line Between Indecent Exposure and an “Oops” Moment
Florida state laws also allow for the prosecution for indecent exposure in a private home belonging to the defendant, but only if the defendant knew that – and intended – others would see the exposure. A person who stands in front of his open window and “flashes” the neighborhood can face charges of indecent exposure as well as if the host or attendee of a party surprisingly flashes others in attendance. But if a person is merely wandering nude inside his or her home and happens to pass by an open window, it does not necessarily constitute indecent exposure. However, if the suspect demonstrates “lewd or vulgar intent of a sexual nature” along with the direct exposure of the sexual organs and someone outside views the act as offensive, they can notify the police and the suspect might face charges. People caught “skinny dipping” in a public pool or the ocean may face indecent exposure if they engaged in lewd behavior.
Note that Florida law views the act of public breastfeeding as “an important and basic act of nature which must be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health and family values.” [Fla. Stat. § 383.015] As such, breastfeeding is protected, regardless of whether it takes place on public or private property [Fla. Stat. § 800.03].
In Florida, indecent exposure is a first-degree misdemeanor. A conviction can bring a sentence in the county jail of up to a year and/or a fine up to $1,000 [Fla. Stat. § 775.082 & 775.083].
The good news is that the state needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused acted with lewd or lascivious intent.
Even still, those facing charges of indecent exposure, like any sex-related offense, must take them very seriously. Consult an experienced criminal lawyer immediately. Goldman Wetzel offers a free evaluation of your case and can help with your defense. Contact us at 727-828-3900 or fill out our online contact form.