Florida Misdemeanors Attorney
In Florida, the crime of indecent exposure qualifies as a sex crime and can carry a punishment of a one-year prison sentence, 12 months of probation, and a $1,000 fine. A conviction for this offense can have far-reaching consequences, making it difficult for those with a criminal record to obtain employment, apply for housing, or join the military. Many of those who are charged with this crime never intended to break the law, so hiring an experienced attorney is essential to establishing a successful defense.
To sustain a charge of indecent exposure, the prosecutor must show that the defendant:
- Exposed his or her sexual organs;
- Was in public or on private premises belonging to someone else, or so near the private premises of another as to be seen from those premises; and
- Intended the exposure of his or her sexual organs to be in a vulgar or indecent manner.
The terms “lewd,” “indecent,” “lascivious,” and “vulgar” all mean an unlawful indulgence in lust or a licentious and obscene intent on the part of the accused. Mere nudity is not enough to sustain a conviction for indecent exposure, if the accused did not have a sexually-oriented lewd intent. Furthermore, to qualify as “vulgar,” the conduct must cause offense to someone viewing the act.
A public place means an area that is accessible to the general public. Places like parks, restaurants, buses, stores, and roads all fall within this broad definition.
In Florida, when the alleged indecent conduct occurs in a public place, the prosecution is not required to prove that someone was offended by the act. However, such a showing is required when the charge is being applied to conduct that took place on private property.
Breastfeeding, even when done in public, does not satisfy the elements of indecent exposure. In Florida, breastfeeding is a protected act. As long as a woman is authorized to be at a location, whether public or private, she may breastfeed an infant without fear of prosecution. This is true regardless of whether the woman’s nipple is uncovered during or incidental to breastfeeding.
If a charged individual never intended for the public to see his or her sexual act and it was reasonable to believe that no one would, that person may be able to argue lack of sufficient intent to act publicly. This is a common defense in instances where a defendant was in the privacy of his or her own home when the act was committed, but was unaware that he or she was visible to the public.
Another possible defense is the lack of lewd intent. Without proof that an individual was motivated by a lewd intent, a charge of indecent exposure cannot be established. Furthermore, if the exposure in question was unintentional, then the necessary intent required for a conviction will be lacking.
Sex crimes are serious offenses in Florida. If you have been charged with a sex crime like indecent exposure, an attorney’s guidance is essential to help you protect your legal rights. Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free consultation.