William Waldman was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for Lewd and Lascivious Exhibition this past Saturday. As a result of that arrest, Waldman was warned not to return to any city parks. However, when a park ranger involved in that arrest recognized Waldman at Holiday Park on Thursday, Waldman was arrested a second time for trespass. (Photo Credit: Broward Sheriff’s Office)
At this stage, these charges are only allegations and have not yet been proven, nor has Waldman plead guilty or no-contest.
William Waldman’s second arrest is going to pose a big problem for him in regards to his first bond. When a person is placed on bond, regardless of the offense, the main responsibility that person has is to not get re-arrested.
When a person is on bond in one case and then they get re-arrested in another, the prosecution has the right to motion the court to revoke the bond on the first arrest. This is because a re-arrest violates the most fundamental condition of any bond – to remain at liberty without re-offending.
In William Waldman’s case, it appears as though the new trespass charge has been given a $2,500.00 bond. This may be very temporary once sex crimes prosecutors learn he was re-arrested while on bond for Lewd and Lascivious Exhibition – especially since the new arrest concerns returning to city parks.
Based on his re-arrest, I would not be surprised if prosecutors filed a motion to revoke bond. In the alternative, this may have already happened when Waldman appeared in magistrate court.
For those who do not know, magistrate court in Broward County is manned by a very diligent and intelligent prosecutor. I have been in this courtroom many times and he is always prepared and quick to motion the judge to revoke bond when a defendant comes in with a re-arrest. As a result, Waldman may have already had the bond on his Lewd and Lascivious Exhibition case revoked.
This case presents a very typical example of good law enforcement intentions, but possibly insufficient evidence. According to news reports, William Waldman approached children at George English Park and asked them about school. Sometime thereafter, park rangers claim to have seen Waldman fondling himself inside his silver Acura.
The fact that this guy was caught playing with himself after he was seen chatting up some kids, tells me he is more likely than not a sex offender up to no good. I think that much is pretty obvious.
However, as a defense lawyer, my job is to make sure there is sufficient evidence to support the alleged crimes. While we may know what Waldman was likely up to, there has to be sufficient admissible evidence to support the charge of Lewd and Lascivious Exhibition.
To sustain this offense, the prosecution must prove that Waldman not only masturbated or intentionally exposed his genitals in a lewd or lascivious manner (meaning in a sexual manner), but that he did so in the presence of a person under 16 years of age.
In the absence of proof that William Waldman fondled himself in front of a child under 16 years of age, the charge of Lewd and Lascivious Exhibition cannot stand.
Instead, he may be facing charges for indecent exposure. The difference between these two offenses is huge. First, Lewd and Lascivious Exhibition is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, whereas indecent exposure is only a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. In fact, most people charged with indecent exposure will only get probation.
Given the facts of the case, I wonder if prosecutors will even be able to prove indecent exposure. To sustain a charge if indecent exposure, prosecutors must be able to prove that William Waldman fondled himself in public.
According to news reports, park ranger arrested Waldman after they observed him fondling himself in his silver Acura. The fact that he was inside his car poses tremendous problems for prosecutors.
The ultimate issue in this case will come down to how visible Waldman’s activities were to people outside of the car. Was it clear for all to see? Did he park in an area where people would see him? Or, in the alternative, was it necessary for park rangers to walk right up to the car and look right into the window to see what was going on? Was Waldman parked in a secluded area or in a spot that gave him a measure of privacy?
To be clear, I am NOT condoning these allegations. For God’s sake, masturbate at home!
However, the law is written a certain way for a reason. Consider these alternate scenarios:
1) Should it be a crime to change your clothing in your car?
2) Should it be a crime for consenting adults adults to have sexual contact in a car?
Lets face it, if you haven’t made out or fooled around in the backseat of a car, you likely didn’t go to high school in the United States!
In order to differentiate between innocent conduct and criminal conduct, the law was written to include very specific requirements before a criminal charge can be sustained.
In the case of William Waldman, the alleged facts make it clear that he was likely up to no good and may pose a danger to children. However, suspicion alone does not absolve the prosecution from its duty to present actual evidence in court.
Based on the information presented in the news media about William Waldman’s case, I do not think a prosecution for Lewd and Lascivious Exhibition is supported by the evidence. At best, the prosecution may have a case for indecent exposure, depending on how visible Waldman’s actions were to the public from the inside of his car.
Since it is clear that Waldman has been warned not to enter any of the city’s parks, rangers and police officers will need to keep a diligent watch for him to make sure he keeps away. If he returns, they should arrest him and charge him with trespass.
Finally, it should be emphasized that this analysis is strictly based on the information made available in the media and that William Waldman is innocent until proven guilty.