Under Florida law, exposure of sexual organs, or “indecent exposure,” is a serious
criminal offense that has devastating long-term consequences for an accused. In
addition to the potential penalties, a conviction will subject the accused to a permanent
stigma and will permanently interfere with employment prospects, professional licensing,
college applications, and other aspects of your daily life. If you have been charged
with exposure of sexual organs or indecent exposure, contact an experienced Jacksonville,
FL Criminal Attorney for a free consultation. An attorney is a critical asset for
exploring potential defenses and avoiding the harsh consequences of a conviction.
How is Exposure of Sexual Organs (Indecent Exposure) Defined under Florida Law?
Under Section 800.03, Florida Statutes, it is unlawful “to expose or exhibit one’s
sexual organs in public or on the private premises of another, or so near thereto
as to be seen from such private premises, in a vulgar or indecent manner, or to be
naked in public except in any place provided or set apart for that purpose.”
To prove the crime of indecent exposure (exposure of sexual organs), the prosecution
must establish the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. The defendant exposed or exhibited his/her sexual organs or was naked;
2. The defendant did so in a public place, on the private premises of another, or
so near the private premises of another as to be seen from those private premises;
3. The defendant intended the exposure or exhibition of his or her sexual organs
or nakedness to be in a vulgar, indecent, lewd, or lascivious manner;
4. The exposure or exhibition or nakedness was in a vulgar, indecent, lewd, or lascivious
As used in the statute, the terms “vulgar,” “indecent,” “lewd,” and “lascivious”
mean the same thing. They mean an unlawful indulgence in lust or a wicked, lustful,
unchaste, licentious, or sensual intent on part of the person committing the act.
Acts are not vulgar, indecent, lewd, or lascivious unless such acts cause offense
to one or more persons viewing those acts, or unless the acts substantially intrude
upon the rights of others.
A “public place” is defined as any place intended or designed to be frequented resorted
to by the general public. For exposure cases involving an act that occurs in a public
place, there is no requirement that any person be offended by such act. State v.
Kees, 919 So. 2d 504 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist. 2005). However, a showing that
someone was offended is required for exposure cases involving an act occurring on
private property outside the view of the general public. Id.
In Florida, indecent exposure or exposure of sexual organs is classified as a first
degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.
What is Not Indecent Exposure in Florida: Nudity and Breastfeeding
Proof of mere nudity or exposure is insufficient to sustain a conviction for indecent
exposure. 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. Duvallon
v. State, 404 So. 2d 196, 197 (Fla. 1st DCA 1981). Lewd or Lascivious means that
there must be some type of sexually-oriented intent that is lustful and/or indulgent.
Chesebrough v. State, 255 So.2d 675, at 677, 678 (Fla. 1971). Thus, appearing nude
at the beach, sleeping nude on a dock, or urinating in public does not constitute
indecent exposure or exposure of sexual organs. SeeU.S. v. A Naked Person Issued
Notice of Violation No. P419490, 841 F. Supp. 1153 (M.D. Fla. 1993); Goodmakers v.
State, 450 So. 2d 888 (Fla. 2d DCA 1984); Payne v. State, 463 So. 2d 271 (Fla. 2d
The act of breastfeeding a baby is also insufficient to sustain a conviction for
indecent exposure. Under Section 383.015, Florida Statutes, breastfeeding is a protected
act and defined by the Florida legislature as “an important and basic act of nurture
which must be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health and family
values.” Thus a mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private,
where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple
of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.
Is Florida’s Indecent Exposure Statute Constitutional?
According to the Florida Supreme Court, yes. The indecent exposure law has so far
survived legal challenges brought on First Amendment (free speech) grounds and vagueness
grounds. Hoffman v. Carson, 250 So. 2d 891, 894 (Fla. 1971). This, however, is not
to say the law will survive all First Amendment challenges if the conduct forming
the basis of an exposure charge is sufficiently expressive and deemed “protected
Are There Defenses to Indecent Exposure or Exposure of Sexual Organs?
There are many defenses available to contest a charge of exposure in Florida. Often,
prosecutions of this charge attempt to reign in conduct that goes beyond the scope
of the statute. If the exposure was unintentional, or if it occurred without the
requisite “lewd” purpose, or if the exposure was not intended to be viewed by others,
this will provide a complete defense to the charge. The offense must furthermore
occur within a location specified in the statute, and must go beyond mere nudity.
Even where the defenses are weak, indecent exposure charges can often be negotiated
down to less serious charges, thus sparing the accused the harsh long-term effects
of a conviction.
If you have been accused of indecent exposure or exposure of sexual organs in Jacksonville,
FL, contact Hussein & Webber, PL to discuss your legal options. This is a serious
criminal charge with serious long-term consequences, and you should not plead without
first consulting with an attorney. All consultations with our Jacksonville Criminal
Attorney are free and confidential.