In Florida, sex on the beach is typically understood as a cheeky, sugary cocktail with peach schnapps. It’s romanticized in a classic scene in the 1950s film, “From Here to Eternity.” However, having actual sex on a beach in Florida can land you in handcuffs (and not in a good way). As a Fort Lauderdale defense lawyer, it seems an important fact to address because locals and tourists alike continue to run afoul of public indecency and lewd lascivious laws – and prosecutors don’t seem intent to cut them any slack.
Most recently, a married couple from Vermont vacationing on Sanibel Island were arrested by police, who had received complaints the pair were naked on the beach. Officers saw the woman naked in the water, summoned her over to them and gave her a towel. The husband walked up and asked why they could not be naked, as “we are all human.” Officers explained Sanibel is not a nude beach, and it’s against Florida law to be on a public beach with no clothing. Witnesses said they pair may have been having sex. The two were arrested on charges of indecent exposure. F.S. 800.03 states it is unlawful to exhibit one’s sexual organs in public (or on private premises so near as to be seen by those on public property) in a manner that is vulgar or indecent. It’s a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. (Mothers breastfeeding babies does not count.)
Although these two were charged with a misdemeanor, Fort Lauderdale defense attorneys have seen prosecutors pursue felony charges for Florida sex on the beach.
Three years ago, a couple was found guilty of having sex on a public beach in Manatee County, allegedly in broad daylight and where children were present. It was that last part that brought about the felony charge of lewd lascivious acts committed in the presence of people under 16. Defense attorneys alleged that whether any children actually saw this was pure speculation because no minors even testified. Ultimately, the couple accepted a plea deal – the woman sentenced to 60 days with credit for time-served and the man 2.5 years, due to a prior drug trafficking charge. The pair both had to register as sex offenders. Many commenting called even the more lenient outcome “absurd” given the allegations, but nonetheless, that remains Florida law.
Fort Lauderdale Defense Lawyer Can Help Fight Florida Indecent Exposure Charge
For an alleged offender to be convicted of indecent exposure in Florida, prosecutors must prove all the following:
- Defendant exposed or exhibited his or her sexual organs or was naked;
- Defendant did so in a public place or on private property so near to another as to be seen from there;
- Defendant intended the exhibition or exposure to be vulgar, indecent, lewd or lascivious;
- The exposure was in a vulgar, indecent, lewd or lascivious manner.
Proof of mere exposure or nudity isn’t sufficient to sustain a conviction in these cases.
As mentioned before, this offense is usually a misdemeanor, but can rise to a felony if done in the presence of minors under age 16. If defendant is less than 18, it’s still considered a third-degree felony. For someone over 18, it’s a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
If you are arrested for indecent exposure in Fort Lauderdale, it’s in your best interest to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Couple charged with being naked on Florida beach. Witness tells cops they saw something else, Nov. 27, 2018, By Sara Nealeigh, Bradenton.com
More Blog Entries:
Appeal Waiver in Criminal Plea Bargain at Issue in Case Before SCOTUS, Nov. 15, 2018, Fort Lauderdale Indecent Exposure Defense Attorney Blog