Compared to some other crimes, exposing your sexual organs might seem trivial. However, it is a serious crime in Florida. According to Florida Statute 800.03, exposure of sexual organs or indecent exposure is the intentional and lewd exhibition of an individual’s genitals in a public place or someone else’s premises. Anyone who is accused of this crime will face serious penalties, including jail time and a permanent criminal record. Crimes of this nature can affect your life, your family’s life, and your future prospects. This is why it is important that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible.
If you have been accused of indecent exposure in Sarasota, The Law Place can help you to fight your charges. We know how to handle tough cases and can use our skills to have your charges reduced or even dismissed with the right defense strategy. Call us today for a free consultation at (941) 444-4444. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How Florida Law Defines Indecent Exposure of Sexual Organs
Florida Statute 800.03 states that it is against the law to exhibit or expose your sexual organs in a public place or on someone else’s private property in an indecent or vulgar manner. It also states that it is illegal to be naked in public unless the place you are in is set apart for that purpose. You can also be charged with this crime can if you expose your sexual organs in an indecent or vulgar manner close to private property where you would be seen. An exception is made for mothers who are breastfeeding their babies.
This crime, like all crimes in the State of Florida, must be proven by the prosecutor beyond a reasonable doubt. They must establish that you showed your sexual organs or exposed yourself on someone else’s private property or in public, that you intended to expose or exhibit yourself, and it was performed in an indecent, vulgar, lewd, or lascivious manner.
Common Terms in the Statute
The terms “indecent,” “lewd,” “lascivious,” and “vulgar” all generally describe the same thing. They refer to any acts of exposure that are performed lustfully, with sensual intent, unchastely, or wickedly. The prosecutor in these cases must establish that the exposure was performed in such a manner, and sometimes this is the weakest part of their case. An act cannot be considered vulgar, lewd, lascivious, or indecent unless it causes offense to another person.
For example, if you change your clothes in front of an open window and someone accidentally saw you, you most likely would not be found to have the intent to be convicted of the crime of indecent exposure.
Public vs. Private Places
In this statute, a “public place” is defined as any place designed or intended to be used frequently by the general public. For incidents of exposure of sexual organs that have occurred on or near the private property of another person, it must be established that someone was offended in order to secure a conviction.
Establishing Guilt in an Indecent Exposure Case
In order to convict someone of the crime of exposure of sexual organs in a criminal trial, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant was naked, or they exhibited or exposed their sexual organs.
- The defendant exposed their sexual organs in a public place, on the private premises of someone else, or so close to the private premises that they could be clearly seen.
- The defendant had a clear intention of exposing or exhibiting their sexual organs or nakedness in a vulgar, lewd, indecent, or lascivious manner.
- The exhibition, exposure, or nakedness was lewd, vulgar, or indecent
Proving all of these elements is no easy task, even for the most accomplished prosecutors. With the right criminal defense lawyer on your side, you may be able to give rise to doubt for one or more of these elements in your case and secure a dismissal.
When Indecent Exposure Is Considered a Sex Crime in Florida
Some examples of what would be considered indecent exposure in Florida include:
- Intentional masturbation in public.
- Intentional exposure of your sexual organs in a lewd or lascivious manner.
- Any intentional sexual act that does not involve actual sexual or physical contact with the alleged victim, for example, sadomasochistic abuse, sexual bestiality, or the simulation of any act sexual act.
Mere nudity alone or visibility of a person’s genitals is not sufficient grounds for an indecent exposure conviction. For example, if a female protester wore only a cardboard sign, with no clothing underneath, and this allowed exposure of the sides of her breasts and her buttocks, or if someone was nude at a specified nude beach, they could not be convicted under this statute, due to lack of lewd intention.
If you are unsure if your accusation warrants a charge of exposure of sexual organs, a qualified criminal defense lawyer can advise you. Call us for a free consultation, and we can explain what charges you should expect to face.
Breastfeeding in Public in Sarasota, Florida
Breastfeeding is one topical issue that is sometimes debated when it comes to exposure. According to Florida law, the act of breastfeeding a baby is insufficient to sustain an indecent exposure conviction. In fact, according to Florida Statute 383.015, breastfeeding is a protected act.
As stated under this statute, a mother may breastfeed her baby in any location she wishes. This could be a public or private space as long as the mother is otherwise authorized to be there. This is the case regardless of whether the mother’s nipple is exposed during breastfeeding. This is because breastfeeding is not a sexual act and because the mother’s right to feed her child is heavily protected.
The Penalties or Indecent exposure of Sexual Organs in Florida
In Sarasota and Florida in general, the crime of exposure of sexual organs is usually charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. Those convicted will face penalties such as one year in jail, one year of probation, and a fine of up to $1,000. However, usually, the worst consequence of these charges is not the misdemeanor charge but instead the permanent stigma that goes with accusations of vulgar or indecent behavior. A sex crime conviction that will remain on your criminal record may affect your ability to get a job, access housing, get professional licensing, or even attend college or graduate school. Certain areas of work could be totally off-limits due to the proposed risk of having someone convicted of a sex crime around young and vulnerable people.
This crime and the penalties associated with it become more serious if:
- The alleged victim is 16 years of age, and the alleged offender is less than 18 years of age. This is considered a third-degree felony offense, which is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
- The alleged victim is less than 16 years of age, and the alleged offender 18 years of age or older. This is considered a second-degree felony offense, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- The alleged victim is a current employee of the alleged offender. This is considered a third-degree felony offense, which is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
There are some other factors that may come into play when it comes to your sentence. For example, if you are a habitual offender or have a criminal record, the penalties could be more severe. In any case, it is in your best interest to avoid a criminal conviction for the exposure of sexual organs and seek the help of a professional lawyer who can fight to have your charges reduced or even dismissed.
Possible Defenses to Indecent Exposure in Sarasota
An experienced lawyer will build your defense based on the facts and circumstances of your case. But there are many possible defenses available to contest charges of indecent exposure in Sarasota. Some of the more common examples include:
- The exposure of your sexual organs was not intentional.
- The exposure of your sexual organs was for a non-lewd/indecent purpose.
- You were not aware of the presence of other people or your potential visibility to others.
- The alleged act of exposure occurred whilst you were breastfeeding your baby.
- The evidence against you is limited.
- There was no sexual intent.
- There was no witness to the act because it occurred on private property.
With the help of the right attorney, these charges can usually be negotiated down. For example, a more serious sex crime could be reduced to a misdemeanor indecent exposure charge due to insufficient evidence and failure to establish all of the elements that are necessary to prove a felony.
To find out more about how we could build a defense to fight your charges, call The Law Place for a free case evaluation.
Call The Law Place Today for a Free Consultation
Convictions for crimes of vulgar or indecent exposure come with longer-lasting consequences than just fines and prison time. If you have been convicted of a sex crime, it will remain on your criminal record, and this will result in significant difficulties when it comes to getting a job and renting a home. This is why it is crucial that you contact an experienced Sarasota criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible, so they can get to work on your case.
With over 75 years of combined legal experience between them, the attorneys at The Law Place have helped countless individuals fight their criminal accusations. We will work tirelessly on your behalf to ensure that you stand a chance at achieving a positive outcome for your case. Contact us today at (941) 444-4444 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Phone lines are open 24/7.