Obscenity Crimes for Teachers

The Florida legislature created third degree penalties under Section 847.012 for distributing harmful materials to minors or using minors in the production of these materials.

In late January of 2023, Many teachers felt the need to remove all books from their classrooms based on a fear that they might be prosecuted for this vague offense that broadly covers any “verbal descriptions” of “sexual conduct” that is harmful to minors.

A third degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Section 847.012(3) prohibits a person from knowingly selling, renting, or loaning for monetary consideration to a minor:

(a) Any picture, photograph, drawing, sculpture, motion picture film, videocassette, or similar visual representation or image of a person or portion of the human body which depicts nudity or sexual conduct, sexual excitement, sexual battery, bestiality, or sadomasochistic abuse and which is harmful to minors; or

(b) Any book, pamphlet, magazine, printed matter however reproduced, or sound recording that contains any matter defined in s. 847.001, explicit and detailed verbal descriptions or narrative accounts of sexual excitement, or sexual conduct and that is harmful to minors.

Section 847.012(5) prohibits any adult, including a teacher or certified educator, from knowingly distributing to a minor on school property, or posting on school property, any material described in subsection (3).

The statute is poorly drafted because Section 847.001 defines all kinds of things. Section 847.001(6) defines the term “harmful to minors” as follows:

As an “means any reproduction, imitation, characterization, description, exhibition, presentation, or representation, of whatever kind or form, depicting nudity, sexual conduct, or sexual excitement when it:

(a) Predominantly appeals to a prurient, shameful, or morbid interest;

(b) Is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable material or conduct for minors; and

(c) Taken as a whole, is without serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.”

Read more about how attorneys represent teachers charged with a crime in Florida and the disciplinary actions that can be taken against a certified educator.

This article was last updated on Monday, January 23, 2023.