March 5

This Day in History

Crime

Mar 5, 1969:

Jim Morrison is charged with lewd behavior at a Miami concert

The Dade County Sheriff's Office issues an arrest warrant for Doors' lead singer Jim Morrison. He is charged with a single felony count and three misdemeanors for his stage antics at a Miami concert a few days earlier.

When Morrison first got word of the charges for lewd and lascivious behavior, indecent exposure, profanity, and drunkenness, he thought it was a practical joke. But he soon learned that Miami authorities were entirely serious. In fact, they later added an additional charge, simulated oral copulation on guitarist Robbie Krieger during the concert.

The trial did not begin until September 1970, when the prosecution trotted out witnesses who claimed to be shocked at the scene they had witnessed at the Doors concert. However, virtually every witness was somehow connected to the police or the district attorney's office. There was some question as to whether the popular singer had ever actually exposed himself on stage. But there was little doubt that he was so drunk that he had been able to do little more than mumble during the show. Morrison turned down a plea bargain arrangement where the band would play a free concert in Miami.

This turned out to be a mistake as he was convicted and sentenced to six months in prison and a $500 fine. Morrison died in Paris before he could serve the sentence. Twenty years later, Dade County, Florida, once again placed itself in the middle of rock concert controversy when they prosecuted 2 Live Crew for alleged obscenity on stage.

In December 2010, Jim Morrison received a posthumous pardon by the state of Florida, thanks in part to the efforts of outgoing governor Charlie Crist, who cited lingering doubts about the singer's actions.

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