When Is Indecent Exposure Really Indecent In South Florida?
Not long ago, the British royal, Kate Windsor ex Middleton, was on a good will visit to Australia with her husband, Prince William. On one memorable occasion her billowing skirt blew up with a sudden gust of wind from an Australian Air Force helicopter that had landed to pick them up. All eyes were immediately fastened on the lady’s rear end, which unfortunately for her was totally uncovered by any underwear. Whether she had forgotten to fully dress herself, just hadn’t had time because of a busy schedule or did this habitually we will never know, but if it had happened in Florida would it have been considered “indecent exposure”?
It’s unlikely, according to a closer look at the Florida statute that covers such behavior in public. Accidental “wardrobe malfunctions” like the example above, breastfeeding in public, urinating in a park, even being nude on a beach are unlikely to be regarded as “indecent exposure” and therefore would be unlikely to lead to an arrest and a criminal charge with accompanying fines and/or imprisonment.
For that type of behavior to be considered a criminal act in Florida, the person has to have exposed their body parts, particularly their sexual organs, with intent to be “lascivious”. The words “lewd and lascivious” are a bit old fashioned and not the type of words that would be properly understood in everyday speech, but basically in legal terminology they imply that the person is being sexually aroused from his or her behavior.
A recent example of what could be termed “indecent exposure” is that of a Miami man, 43 year old Gil Medina, who allegedly exposed himself to a woman as she was about to cross Village Boulevard in West Palm Beach. According to the woman, he dropped his pants and touched himself while calling out to her. She apparently tried to take a photo of him with her cell phone but said that she was so shaken that she didn’t succeed, but did manage to ring 911.
Obviously, there was something suspicious about Medina’s behavior because when state troopers discovered him in some bushes near the highway he was reported to have his pants draped around his ankles together with his underwear and was allegedly still masturbating.
The woman was reported to have later identified him and Medina was charged with indecent exposure and then released on bail.
Indecent exposure or lewd and lascivious conduct in Florida, if proven, can lead to some stiff penalties. The charge is considered a first degree misdemeanor unless the “lascivious behavior” also involves a minor, in which case it becomes a felony.
Like other sex crimes, proving that “indecent exposure” actually took place may not be as easy as one might think as it can happen when only one other person was around and may depend heavily on that person’s eye witness account. The potential for exaggerated or even false testimony is always present and it is certainly important that anyone who has been accused of indecent exposure in public should make sure they are defended by an experienced Miami criminal defense attorney as the consequences of a wrongful conviction or unusually harsh conviction could be severe. The fact that the indecent exposure took place in one’s own home may not be a sufficient defense if the exposure can be seen by a member of the public and the intent to expose can be proven. So watch out what you do in the privacy of your bedroom if you have big floor to ceiling glass as in many of today’s glass towers, particularly around the Brickell Avenue neighborhood in Miami.
A successful conviction for a misdemeanor indecent exposure charge may lead to imprisonment up to a year in the county jail and a fine of up to a thousand dollars plus court costs and a criminal record that will last a lifetime. There are alternatives to conviction however. A good Miami criminal defense lawyer might negotiate a way for all charges to be dropped in exchange for your participating in a sexual offender class or program or performing community service hours. Instead of risking jail after an adverse ruling at trial, this may be a viable option.
If your Miami criminal defense attorney is successful in getting your case dismissed, reduced, nolle prossed, or if you are acquitted, the lawyer can then petition to expunge your arrest and court records if you are otherwise eligible. Your lawyer may also keep you from getting convicted by persuading the Judge to withhold adjudication of guilt, thereby avoiding a formal adjudication of guilt. Then if otherwise eligible, your lawyer can move to seal the arrest and court records from public view. Sealing and Expungement of criminal records is always a good idea after your case is over. But they are only options that are available if your lawyer wins your case. That’s why it’s important to have your criminal attorney in Miami’s number on speed dial. You never know when it will be your turn to dial it.
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If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: 305-644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.