Under Florida law, it is a crime to expose sexual organs in public or be naked in a vulgar or indecent matter. While this offense is typically a first-degree misdemeanor, recently-enacted law, HB 675 makes a second or subsequent violation a third-degree felony. The bill also makes it easier for officers to arrest people under this statute, eliminating the need to obtain a warrant. Florida Statutes section 901.15 is now amended to read:
A law enforcement officer may arrest a person without a warrant when:
(9) There is probable cause to believe that the person has committed:
(e) An exposure of sexual organs in violation of s. 800.03.
The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee noted that “[b]y increasing the likelihood of arrest and increasing the penalty for subsequent indecent exposures, the bill may prevent additional offenses and prevent an offender from fleeing, going into hiding, or becoming hostile when law enforcement returns to execute an arrest warrant.”
According to Carlton Fields’ 2020 Florida Legislative Post-Session Report, an officer cannot generally make an arrest for a misdemeanor offense unless (1) the officer has a warrant or (2) a warrant exception applies, or (3) the officer was present at the time of the offense. This means that prior to HB 675, officers had to obtain a warrant to arrest people for exposing sexual organs, or physically see the defendant expose themselves. HB 675 now provides an exception to the warrant requirement, allowing officers to make an arrest without a warrant AND without witnessing the offending conduct.