Legislation that would improve prosecution of indecent exposure passed through committee stops in the Senate and House on Tuesday. SB 1018 by Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) and HB 675 by Representative Amy Mercado (D-Orlando) passed unanimously through Senate Criminal Justice and House Justice Appropriations, respectively.
The bills improve the ability of law enforcement to investigate and act without delay to apprehend a suspect before they re-offend or escalate their acts. The bills also escalate penalties, allowing for a more meaningful prosecution for individuals who show a pattern of this behavior.
“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.”
The bills also seek to close a loophole in the law that changes the offense based on the age of the victim. Currently, indecent exposure is a felony if the victim is under the age of 16, but is otherwise a misdemeanor.
“Without this legislation we are purposely allowing lewd and lascivious crimes to occur based on the age of the victims,” said Mercado.
“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.”