Is it legal to sunbathe naked in your backyard? What Florida law says about that

Tanning is a South Florida tradition. And for some, the best outfit for a day under the sun is no outfit at all.

Miami is home to plenty of birthday-suit sunbathers. You can find many of them at Haulover, just north of Bal Harbour, the site of the only official “clothing optional” beach in South Florida.

MORE: Does Florida have nude beaches? Here’s where you can find clothing-optional sites

But what if you don’t want to go to the beach? Can you sunbathe nude in your own backyard or on your apartment balcony?

Here’s what to know:

Can you let it all hang out at home?

It’s illegal in Florida to expose your “sexual organs” or be naked in public or on someone else’s private property “in a vulgar or indecent manner.” It is also illegal to be naked “so near thereto as to be seen from such private premises.”

To demonstrate that someone committed “unlawful exposure of sexual organs” while tanning naked on their property, prosecutors would need to prove all five of the following, according to jury instructions from The Florida State Bar Association:

The person was naked.

It could be seen from someone else’s private property.

The nudity was “vulgar, indecent, lewd, or lascivious.”

The person “intended” their nudity to be “vulgar, indecent, lewd, or lascivious.”

The nudity “caused offense” to at least one person.

The jury instructions also say that “proof of mere nudity” isn’t enough to find someone guilty. It also offers some synonyms for “vulgar,” among them wicked, lustful or sensual.

So, even if someone on their property sees you tanning naked on your property, and is offended by that, the state would still need to prove that you intended to be vulgar by being naked.

“It’s subjective,” said Brett Schwartz, a Miami criminal defense lawyer and founding partner of Hager & Schwartz. “Vulgar means different things to different people.”

Schwartz says that generally, if you’re on your own property, “you can probably do whatever you want, unless you were intentionally trying to be vulgar.”

MORE: Can you swim naked at the beach in Miami? Smoke, sleep or drink? What the laws say

What is the punishment for indecent exposure?

Naturists soak it all in at Haulover.
Naturists soak it all in at Haulover.

A first offense for “indecent exposure” in Florida is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and no more than one year in prison. A second violation of the law can be treated as a third-degree felony, punishable by a fine of as much as $5,000 and up to five years in prison.

So, if you’re planning to strip down on your condo balcony, you are likely safe from the law, though it is a gray area.

To be safe, it might be better just to head over to Haulover.

A man sits at the concession stand on a stretch of Haulover Beach open to nude bathers.
A man sits at the concession stand on a stretch of Haulover Beach open to nude bathers.