Exposing a Minor to Pornography

Under Fla. Stat. 847.013, it is unlawful to knowingly expose a minor to movies, shows, presentations, exhibitions, or representations that are considered harmful, which includes content that contains nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, sexual battery, bestiality, or abuse. When this type of material is involved, people are prohibited from:
  • Knowingly exhibiting, selling, or renting this type of movie to a minor in exchange for monetary consideration
  • Knowingly selling a ticket to a minor for admission to a movie or representation depicting sexual conduct
  • Knowingly renting, selling, or loaning a video tape to a minor that contains this kind of material
However, this law does not apply when a minor is accompanied by a parent, as it is assumed that the parent would explain the nature of the movie or representation and would filter any depictions that they deemed harmful.

Defining “Knowingly”

A person can only be convicted of this offense, if there is evidence that he or she knowingly exposed a minor to harmful material. Under Florida law, knowingly is defined as having general knowledge of, a reason to know, or a belief that justifies further inspection of:
  • The character and content of the material
  • The age of the minor
Further, defendants cannot raise any defenses about the age of a minor, including that:
  • They were not aware of the minor’s age
  • The minor lied about his or her age
  • They had a bona fide belief that the minor was over the age of 18 years old
  • The minor consented to viewing the material in question
Although defendants are not permitted to raise the defense that a minor lied about his or her age, minors who do misrepresent their age may face separate charges. This rule also applies to anyone accompanying a minor who lies about whether the child is underage.

Defendants who are accused of violating one of this statute’s provisions, can be charged with a first degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

What Qualifies as Harmful to Minors?

Before a person can be convicted of this offense, a prosecutor must be able to provide evidence that the movie, presentation, or exhibition allegedly shown to the minor was harmful. Under Fla. Stat. 847.001, harmful to minors means any reproduction, presentation, description, or exhibition that depicts nudity, sexual conduct, or sexual excitement, when it:
  • Appeals to an erotic or shameful interest
  • Is patently offensive to standards in the community as to what is considered suitable viewing material for minors
  • Is without serious artistic, literary, political, or scientific value for minors
Nudity is also specifically defined as the showing of the genitals, buttocks, or pubic area if they are not covered by fully opaque material. The showing of the breast also satisfies this definition if it is not covered below the top of the nipple. Representations of sexual excitement also fall under this category if they satisfy the remaining requirements and depict genitals in a state of arousal.

The content of a movie, show, or exhibition must satisfy these definitions before a person can be convicted of exposing a minor to pornography.

Application and Enforcement

In an effort to make the enforcement of this law uniform across the state, the Florida Legislature specifically preempted all existing county ordinances and municipal laws related to the exposure of minors under the age of 17 years old to harmful movies and representations. Further, counties and cities are also prohibited from adopting any ordinance related to what qualifies as the exposure of minors to pornographic materials.

Exposing a Minor to Obscene Material

In Florida, it is also against the law to knowingly sell, loan, rent, distribute, or transmit any obscene material to a minor. Material is obscene if it satisfies the following test:
  • The average person, applying community standards, would find that the material appeals to a prurient interest
  • The material depicts sexual conduct in a patently offensive manner
  • The material lacks serious artistic, literary, scientific, or political value
Under Fla. Stat. 847.001, a variety of materials fall under this category, including:
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Pamphlets
  • Periodicals
  • Comic books
  • Cards
  • Pictures
  • Drawings
  • Photographs
  • Movies
  • Images
  • Recordings
Those who are accused of this offense face third degree felony charges, which are punishable by 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
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