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Does a Tryst on The Beach Deserve 15 Years of Prison?

The recent conviction of a couple that had a sexual encounter on a Florida beach in front of the public eye is drawing serious attention nationwide. The reason: the male defendant in the case could be sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The Florida Case

The case at the center of the public eye involves a Florida couple; the male defendant has a past criminal record for felony cocaine trafficking within the last three years, while the female defendant has no prior criminal history. The couple’s tryst was captured on camera by a concerned beachgoer, and the defendants decided to go to trial to fight the case rather than accepting a lower plea deal. The jury, however, was unconvinced, after watching the video, that the couple were “dancing” and “cuddling”, and the jury ended up convicting the couple with lewd and lascivious behavior. Because a three-year-old was a witness to the couple’s sexual act on the beach, the lewd and lascivious conviction has been ramped up to a felony, and the couple must register as sex offenders.

Lewd and Lascivious Conduct in Florida

Under Florida statute relevant to this case, lewd and lascivious conduct and exhibition is an offense charged against any person who exhibits behavior that is of a sexual nature and where the behavior is an intentional exposure of one’s genitalia or an intentional sexual act committed in the presence of any victim under the age of 16 years old. Performing any such conduct in front of minor aggravates the offense and becomes a felony.

Lewd and lascivious conduct and battery can also be where physical contact occurs against the victim by the offender through coercion, lack of consent, or forcing/encouraging/enticing a person under the age of 16 years old to engage in any sexual activity. An important exception outlined in the Florida statute is that breastfeeding in public is not considered to be lewd or lascivious conduct.

The Issue Surrounding the Case

Generally in lewd and lascivious conduct, especially where physical battery or activity does not physically involve a victim, the defendants will be able to plead down to a lesser degree and most likely the defendant would have to register as a sex offender like the couple in this present case. However, due to the state’s compelling interest in protecting public safety, it is in the state’s best interest to punish more severely any offenders with a past felony conviction within the last three years, which is the turning point for this case.

Recidivism in Florida and in the Criminal Justice System

Recidivism is the likelihood that an offender will return to the inmate population after already serving time for a prior offense. Nationwide, it is conservatively estimated that the recidivism rate for the inmate population is at least 50 percent, meaning that one in two inmates will return to prison within three years. Florida has a recidivism rate of 26 percent of its inmate population, according to the Department of Corrections, meaning roughly 1 in 4 prisoners will return to prison. However, Florida is well known for very rarely paroling its inmates, meaning that most likely the released inmate population is smaller than the national average.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

Being arrested for a felony if you have a past criminal background can have serious consequences. An experienced criminal defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik will advocate on your behalf and guide you through the criminal justice system. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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