Indecent exposure to a child is considered a serious crime in Florida, punishable as a felony with a potential penalty of life imprisonment.
Indecent Exposure Offenses in Florida
Indecent exposure is defined by Florida Statute Section 800.03.
A person could be guilty of indecent exposure if they:
- Exposed a sexual organ
- Exhibited a sexual organ
Indecent exposure could occur:
- In a public place
- In a private residence or structure
- Sufficiently close to another private residence as to be witnessed from the premises
Contrary to popular misconception, the state will not ordinarily prosecute someone for indecent exposure unless the act had some demonstrable intent. The prosecutor must provide evidence that the defendant:
- Exhibited a sexual organ in a vulgar manner
- Exhibited a sexual organ in a lewd manner
- Contrived to expose their body in any place that does not ordinarily allow nudity
Section 800.03 provides several important exceptions for breastfeeding and lactating mothers.
Ordinary indecent exposure offenses are a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and fines of up to $1,000.
However, a person suspected of indecent exposure could face additional penalties if the alleged act was witnessed by a child.
Indecent Exposure to a Child
An indecent exposure charge could lead to jail time, fines, and a permanent criminal record. Anyone convicted of indecent exposure could also be compelled to register as a sex offender.
However, Florida does not typically prosecute indecent exposure as a very serious sex crime. But if prosecutors believe that a defendant exposed themselves to a child, or attempted to expose a child’s sexual organs, they face comparatively severe penalties.
Section 800.04 of the Florida Statutes, for instance, details “lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of persons less than 16 years of age.”
A person could be charged under Section 800.04 if they:
- Intentionally masturbate
- Intentionally expose their genitals in a lewd or lascivious manner
- Intentionally commit any other sexual act that does not require or involve actual physical contact with the victim, including but not limited to simulated sexual activities
Section 800.04 provides that:
- Any person 18 years of age or older who commits a lewd or lascivious exhibition is guilty of a second-degree felony
- Any person 18 years of age or younger who commits a lewd or lascivious exhibition is guilty of a third-degree felony
The Potential Penalties for Lewd or Lascivious Exhibition
The penalties for a violation of Section 800.04 are similarly dependent not only on the age of the alleged offender but the age of the victim:
- If the victim is younger than 12 and the perpetrator is older than 18, the crime is considered a “life felony,” punishable by a term of life imprisonment.
- If the victim is older than 12 but younger than 16, and the perpetrator is older than 18, the crime is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
- If the victim is younger than 12 and the perpetrator is younger than 18, the crime is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
- If the victim is older than 12 but younger than 16, and the perpetrator is younger than 18, the crime is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of up to $5,000.
Depending on the circumstances of the incident, Florida could also levy additional charges. Any person convicted of indecent exposure or lewd or lascivious exhibition may also be required to register as a sexual predator. Being listed on the state sex offender’s registry could cause severe reputational damage and make it substantially more difficult to seek gainful employment, maintain a permanent residence, and travel.
Contact an Okaloosa County Indecent Exposure Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one have been charged with indecent exposure in Okaloosa County, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.