Legislation that would protect citizens from obscene conduct and improve prosecution of offenders, has been filed by Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando).
SB 1018 – Exposure of Sexual Organs, raises the penalty for exposing sexual organs in a vulgar or indecent manner, i.e., “flashing.” Under current law, a violation is considered a misdemeanor, meaning law enforcement cannot obtain an arrest warrant for a suspect. This requires law enforcement to catch a violator in the act in order to arrest.
The bill, along with HB 675 by Representative Amy Mercado (D-Orlando), raises the penalty to a third-degree felony, which would allow law enforcement to act without delay to apprehend an alleged suspect before they have an opportunity to reoffend or escalate their acts. In one instance, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office had nine separate cases related to one suspect who repeatedly drove into populated areas, opened his car door, and intentionally exposed his genitals.
“We know that when violators get away with this type of act, they often feel emboldened to continue,” said Stewart. “We want to give law enforcement the tools they need in order to stop this type of behavior in its tracks.”
“This bill will give law enforcement additional tools to act swiftly against those who victimize our residents and visitors with these disturbing lewd acts,” said Orange County Sheriff John Mina. “We appreciate Senator Stewart and Representative Mercado stepping up to help us further protect Floridians.”