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Couple convicted of Florida sex offenses could appeal

A couple who were arrested for allegedly having sex on a public beach recently went before a Manatee County criminal court to give their side of the case. They were unable to avoid conviction of the sex offenses, however, and will now face serious punitive measures. The Florida case is unusual in that there were no direct witnesses to any sex act, but a jury still found the two guilty of lewd and lascivious behavior.

The couple, a 40-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman, were arrested on a Bradenton beach after witnesses called police to say that they believed the pair to be having sexual relations in public. One woman told police that her 4-year-old daughter saw the pair, and six additional witnesses filed formal complaints with police. One woman, a great-grandmother, made a video of the two which was used as evidence in the trial.

Interestingly, none of the witnesses reported seeing sexual contact between the two. There were no reports of exposed genitalia, and no evidence of penetration. Witnesses simply stated that it "appeared as if" the couple were engaging in sexual acts. For the jury, the evidence was deemed sufficient to convict the couple.

The outcome of the Florida case is serious, due to the fact that both individuals will now be required to register as sex offenders, even though they did not commit the type of sex offenses that people usually associate with that registry. Sentencing has not yet taken place, but it is possible that the man could face significant jail time, as he was recently imprisoned for another offense. Should these individuals decide to pursue an appeal of the case, the level of evidence used to reach a guilty verdict could play a central role in the appeals process.

Source: The Washington Post, "Couple found guilty of having sex on a Florida beach, faces up to 15 years in prison", Elahe Izadi, May 5, 2015

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