Sex on the beach could earn you 15 years in prison
When I think of sex on a beach, my mind immediately goes to romance, cocktails and beautiful shots from From Here to Eternity. Never do I settle on illegal activity, but that is in fact what the state of Florida is calling it. A couple was arrested for having sex on the beach last summer and now face charges that could result in 15 years of jail time.
The couple in question is 40-year-old Jose Caballero and 20-year-old Elissa Alvarez. They were arrested on July 20, 2014, for having sex on Bradenton Beach, which is 45 minutes outside of Tampa, Florida. On Monday, they were found guilty after the jury deliberated for only 15 minutes.
The couple had somewhat of a plausible defense — they argued that Alvarez was just "dancing" on top of Caballero in order to wake him up, you know, as you do. However, after a video of the act surfaced and was shown in court, it proved highly unlikely that Alvarez was just dancing.
The video was taken with someone's phone and shows Alvarez moving on top of Caballero in a slow and sexual manner. Several witnesses also testified that a 3-year-old girl saw them since they were performing the act in broad daylight on a public beach. After the damning evidence was shown, the couple was charged and convicted of "lewd and lascivious exhibition" in the second degree (because it was in front of a minor).
While they have yet to be officially sentenced, the Assistant State Attorney Anthony Dafonseca said they intend to ask for a harsher sentence for Caballero, because he has a serious record. He was sent to prison for eight years for cocaine trafficking. If the state gets its way, it's likely Caballero will end up right back there for longer than his previous eight years.
The maximum prison time the state can ask for is 15 years. While that may seem high for such a misdemeanor, it's because Caballero had been out for less than three years before committing this more recent offense. According to the state attorney, the couple was given a "reasonable offer" to settle out of court, but they refused, convinced they would get off when the case went to trial.
All this uproar over a relatively benign act may seem excessive, but Florida takes its beaches very seriously since they're the state's prime tourist attraction. Dafonseca told the Miami Herald, "We're dealing with basically tourists, that came from Brandon and Riverview and West Virginia, and they're here on the beaches of Manatee County, our public beaches," Dafonseca said, referring to the witnesses. "So you want to make sure that this isn't something that just goes by the wayside. And that it is well known to the community, what will be tolerated and what won't be."
Due to the fact that Caballero is a repeat offender, the couple's lawyer believes if the prosecution asks for the maximum penalty of 15 years, the judge will have no problem sentencing as such. However, the jury is still out on what the prosecution will do. Dafonseca told BuzzFeed, “We’ll probably be seeking some incarceration, but in terms of how long… 15 years, we’re still debating that." Meanwhile Alvarez as a first time offender won't receive more than 60 days in jail.
Regardless of the outcome, it definitely will make me think twice about getting too romantic on the beach when I go on vacation!