Florida’s indecent exposure statute can be found in Chapter 800 of Title XLVI crimes. Under Florida Statute Section 800.03, the crime of indecent exposure is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. The crime is also called “lewd exposure of sexual organs.”
The crime requires an intention to be naked coupled with a vulgar or indecent intent, so evidence of an inadvertent “wardrobe slip” would not be sufficient under the statute. Although sunbathing naked might constitute disorderly conduct, it would not be sufficient for a charge of indecent exposure.
The courts in Florida have also found that the act of urinating in and on a public parking lot did not, as a matter of law, constitute a violation of indecent exposure statute.
In other words, the courts have held that for there to be a violation of Section 800.03, there must be a lascivious exposure of a sexual organ. This means that the perpetrator’s exposition or exhibition must involve an unlawful indulgence in lust, eager for sexual indulgence.
When the act of being naked in public was not coupled with any intent to be lewd or lascivious, then the criminal defense attorney can often file a sworn “motion to dismiss” under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.190(c) so that the judge can dismiss the case before trial.
Although a crime for indecent exposure is a misdemeanor, the crime is particularly serious because it involves an intention to be lewd or lascivious. Many people consider indecent exposure to be a type of sexually motivated crime.
A conviction comes with serious collateral consequences that can last a lifetime.
Attorney for Indecent Exposure Crimes in Tampa, FL
If you were charged with a violation of Florida Statute Section 800.03 for exposing your sexual organ in an indecent manner, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Tampa, FL.
With offices located in downtown Tampa, the attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent clients charged with a variety of sexually motivated crimes and misdemeanor offenses for indecent exposure.
Call (813) 250-0500 today.
Elements of Indecent Exposure Crimes in Florida
The elements of the indecent exposure in Florida Statute Section 800.03 include the following elements:
- The Defendant committed an act of:
- exposing a sexual organ; or
- exhibiting a sexual organ.
- The act occurred at one of the following locations:
- in public place; or
- on the private premises of another; or
- so near the private premises of another as to be seen from such private premises.
- The act was committed in the following way:
- in a vulgar manner; or
- in an indecent manner; or
- to be naked in public except in any place provided or set apart for that purpose.
The statute also provides a complete defense for a mother’s breastfeeding of her baby which does not constitute a violation of the statute under any circumstance.
Penalties for Exposing a Sexual Organ in Florida
A violation of Florida’s statute against exposing a sex organ or indecent exposure is a misdemeanor of the first degree punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
In many of these cases, the prosecutor will ask for 12 months of probation to complete counseling and other special conditions.
A conviction will cause a criminal record that will last a lifetime. Additionally, unless you get the case sealed or expunged, your mug shot will remain public on the Sheriff’s Office website every time someone searches for your name.
The History of Indecent Exposure Crimes in the United States
At common law, indecent exposure was a public nuisance and punishable as a misdemeanor. Indecent exposure was historically viewed as an offense against religion and morality that involved open and grossly scandalous lewdness. See 3 Wharton’s Criminal Law s 317 (Torcia, C., 14th ed. 1980).
The case of Rex v. Sedley, 1 Sid. 168 (1963), is often cited by commentators as support for the view that indecent exposure crimes involve open and grossly scandalous lewdness. Today, the common-law crime has been supplanted by statutory offenses in almost every jurisdiction in this country.
Statutes for indecent exposure vary somewhat as to wording, but a survey of the case law indicates that many of the same elements of the common law crime have been retained. See Annot., Criminal offense predicated upon indecent exposure, 94 A.L.R.2d 1353 s 10 (1964).
The Florida Supreme Court in State ex rel. Swanboro v. Mayo, 155 Fla. 330, 19 So.2d 883, at 884, (1944), concluded:
“(a)n act which might have been considered by the general public a few years ago as an indecent exposure of the person and lewd and lascivious in its character might today be not frowned upon, nor condemned by upright, honorable and virtuous people.”
The court recognized that a “change of attitude is illustrated by the fact that until recent times the waltz and the two-step were considered by a great many worthy and high-minded people as lewd and lascivious devices calculated to promote the works of the devil.” Id. at 884.
Examples of Lewd Exposure of a Sexual Organ in Florida
The case law in Florida provides several examples of conduct that the courts found to be sufficient to sustain a conviction for exposing a sexual organ under Florida Statute Section 800.03.
For example in Ross v. State, 876 So. 2d 684, 686 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2004), the defendant was accused of deliberately wearing short shorts without underpants that were substantially sure to lead to the exposure of his penis while shopping at a Walmart.
In the Ross case, a witness also testified that the defendant enhanced the extent of his exposure by continually tugging up on the shorts. Under those circumstances, the court found sufficient evidence to create a jury question of fact about whether the defendant acted in a “vulgar or indecent” manner under the statute.
Merely Being Naked Without a Lewd or Lascivious Intent
If it is alleged that the defendant was naked in public without a lewd or lascivious intent, the prosecutor might charge the crime as a second-degree misdemeanor for disorderly conduct pursuant to section 877.03, Florida Statutes.
The disorderly conduct statute provides in pertinent part: “Whoever commits such acts as are of a nature to corrupt the public morals, or outrage the sense of public decency … shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree….”
For example, in Moffett v. State, 340 So.2d 1155 (Fla.1977), the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the convictions of two women under section 877.03 for topless sunbathing on a public beach.
Merely being naked in public, however, is not enough for a conviction for indecent exposure. In Hoffman, the Florida Supreme Court made the following observation regarding section 800.03:
Because of the nature of the statute, the terms in question must be construed as necessarily relating to a lascivious exhibition of those private parts of a person which common propriety requires to be customarily kept covered in the presence of others.
This construction necessarily applies also to the language, “or so to expose or exhibit his person in such place, or to go or be naked in such place.” 250 So.2d at 893.
The First District Court of Appeal, relying upon Hoffman, held in Duvallon that “in order for nudity to be prosecutable under section 800.03, Florida Statutes, there must be a lewd or lascivious exhibition or exposure of the sexual organs.” 404 So.2d at 197.
Although the language in the statute prohibits merely going or being “naked in such place,” the Florida Supreme Court has construed Section 800.03 to also require that mere nudity is coupled with “lascivious” exposition or exhibition of the defendant’s sexual organs. See State v. Dwyer, 332 So.2d 333, 335 (Fla.1976).
The terms “lascivious” and “lewd” mean that the perpetrator’s exposition or exhibition involves “an unlawful indulgence in lust, eager for sexual indulgence.” Chesebrough v. State, 255 So.2d 675, 677 (Fla.1971).
Or, as defined by the supreme court in Boles v. State, 158 Fla. 220, 27 So.2d 293, 294 (1946), the term “lewd”, “lascivious”, and “indecent” are synonymous and connote wicked, lustful, unchaste, licentious, or sensual design on the part of the perpetrator.
For example, Burks v. State, 766 So.2d 468 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000) was a case with unique facts and circumstances. In that case, the defendant was hard of hearing and an alcoholic who lived deep in the woods in rural Florida.
The court found that the felt “more secluded on his property than he actually was.” Id. at 469. When reviewing the evidence, the court found insufficient to show that the defendant had a licentious design when he walked around his secluded property in the nude.
Finding a Lawyer for Indecent Exposure in Hillsborough County, FL
If you were charged with violating Florida Statute 800.003 for exhibiting or exposing a sexual organ in a vulgar or indecent manner then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm. With offices conveniently located in downtown Tampa, we are ready to help you fight the case.
Our attorneys also represent clients charged with indecent exposure in the surrounding areas including St. Petersburg and Clearwater in Pinellas County, New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, Brooksville in Hernando County, Bradenton in Manatee County and Bartow and Lakeland in Polk County, Florida.
Call (813) 250-0500 today to discuss the case.
This article was last updated on Friday, February 21, 2020.