Public Lewdness

Exposing certain body parts in public isn’t just against societal norms it’s also a crime. You could be arrested and charged with public lewdness, which is also referred to as indecent exposure or public nudity. These charges are no joke and can have a serious impact on your future. The mark on your criminal record could hinder professional opportunities even if the act was due to extreme inebriation or was simply a joke.

If you’re facing public lewdness charges, the best thing you can do is protect your rights and liberty by contacting a qualified sex crimes attorney. Your attorney can create a sturdy defense and advise you on what the next best step for your case is.

Attorney for Public Lewdness in Broward County, Florida

Any kind of crime can have serious repercussions. However, public lewdness is a sex offense, so the consequences are incredibly severe. Depending on the circumstances, you could even be labeled as a sex offender if you’re convicted. Don’t take chances when it comes to your future and contact the sex crimes attorneys at Meltzer & Bell today.

Contact us now at (754) 755-8554 or fill out a virtual contact form to schedule your first consultation absolutely free. We will fight to drop or reduce your charges so you can move on with your life. Our attorneys are available to assist you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We practices throughout the Broward County area including Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Pompano Beach and Coral Springs.

Overview of Public Lewdness in Florida


What is Public Lewdness Under Florida Law?

In Florida, being undressed to a certain degree can land you with criminal charges. The term “public lewdness” is referred to as the indecent exposure of sexual organs according to Florida Statute Section 800.03. To find you guilty of public lewdness, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • You displayed your sexual organs or were otherwise unclothed;
  • You were in public, on someone else’s private property, or close enough to another’s private property for the exposure to be witnessed;
  • Your nudity or exhibition of sexual organs was purely for sexual gratification reasons or intended to be vulgar and lewd; and
  • Your nakedness or exposure was conducted in a vulgar or indecent manner.

It’s important to note mothers who are breastfeeding in public are exempt from public lewdness charges.


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Examples of Public Lewdness in Florida

An important element of a public lewdness charge is intent. Prosecutors cannot convict you if they can’t prove you had lewd or lustful intent when you committed the crime. One of the most common examples of public lewdness is when a person masturbates in public. This is because the offender receives sexual gratification when exposing their sexual organs in public.

However, others have been charged with public lewdness for more “innocent” acts. For example, the act of “streaking” or running naked through a public place can also get you arrested. Although most people streaking do it for harmless fun, it doesn’t mean you won’t face criminal charges for the act.

In some cases, a public lewdness charge can arise from a politically motivated protest. One instance of this is when a woman was arrested at a Florida Bernie Sanders rally in October 2018 for running topless through the card. She had no lewd or sexual intent, but rather had written politically charges messages on her arms and upper torso for the political convention. She was arrested as a result of her public indecency even though her actions weren’t sexually motivated.


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The Difference Between Public Lewdness and Lewd and Lascivious Exhibition

Public lewdness and lewd and lascivious exhibition are similar charges but have different outcomes and key differences. You can be charged with public lewdness for exposing yourself to anyone as long as it’s in public. However, you can only be charged with lewd and lascivious exhibition if you do any of the following to a person under the age of 16 years old.

  • Masturbate intentionally;
  • Expose your genitals to the person with lewd or lascivious intent; or
  • Intentionally engage in sexual activity that doesn’t involve physical or sexual contact with the victim during the exhibition

As you can see, you don’t need to necessarily be in public to be charged with lewd and lascivious exhibition. What makes the crime is who you’re exposing yourself to, which is a child under the age of 16. In addition, both charges have different outcomes if you’re convicted.

Public lewdness is a first-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Lewd and lascivious exhibition, on the other, has much harsher consequences. You could be charged with a second-degree felony for violating this law. The penalties for a second-degree felony include up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Another vital difference between the two crimes is whether you’re required to register as a sex offender. In Florida, a pubic lewdness conviction normally doesn’t require you to register as a sex offender. This differs from lewd and lascivious exhibition, which requires you to register as a sex offender for at least two years upon conviction.


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Additional Resources

Public Lewdness Laws in Florida – Visit the official website for the Online Sunshine, a collection of state laws and legislation in Florida. Access the site to read the Florida Statutes and find the elements, penalties and potential defenses for a public lewdness charge.

RAINN – Visit the official website for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network to learn more about sexual crimes and violence. Access the site to hear survivor stories, gain resources for those who are struggling with sex violence and more.


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Pubic Lewdness Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

If you or someone you know has been charged with public lewdness, it’s time you fought back. Contact the attorneys at Meltzer & Bell to learn more about our practice. We can set up your first consultation to discuss your charges in further detail. Simply call us at (754) 755-8554 today to learn more about our attorneys and what our plans are for attacking your charges.

Contact us or fill out an online form today. We are available all day; 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Our lawyers practice throughout the greater Fort Lauderdale area including Hollywood, Pompano Beach, Coral Springs and Pembroke Pines.


This article was last updated on September 4, 2019.

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