After just 15 minutes of deliberation on Monday, a jury found a Florida couple guilty of having sex on the beach. They now both face time behind bars.
The conviction holds a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, and could also include up to $10,000 in fines, Bay News 9 reports.
Jose Caballero, 40, and 20-year-old Elissa Alvarez were charged with two counts each of lewd and lascivious behavior for their crime in July 2014. During the trial, a video of the two played in which Alvarez could be seen moving on top of Caballero in a sexual manner in broad daylight.
According to witnesses, a 3-year-old saw the couple. Now, both will have to register as sex offenders.
Assistant State Attorney Anthony Dafonseca reported that the state will pursue a harsher sentence for Caballero, since he has been to prison for almost eight years for a cocaine trafficking conviction. Alvarez reportedly doesn't have any priors. The state will recommend prison time for Caballero and jail time for Alvarez, the Miami Herald reports. Dafonseca also noted that since Caballero has been out of prison for less than three years, he faces the maximum punishment of 15 years behind bars.
Defense attorney Ronald Kurpiers reported that the couple was “devastated” by the verdict.
When asked why the case was such a big deal, Dafonesca replied that it was a matter of tourism.
“We’re dealing with basically tourists [the witnesses], that came from Brandon and Riverview and West Virginia, and they’re here on the beaches of Manatee County, our public beaches,” Dafonseca said. "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."
Family members of the convicted couple have argued that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. The defense even argued that Alvarez had been doing nothing but dancing, and some witnesses testified that they had not seen exposed genitals.
"My friend got only FOUR years for a DUI manslaughter conviction," one Reddit user wrote. "She was drunk and drove and killed a man on a bike. Four years."
State attorney Ed Brodsky noted that while the crime certainly wasn’t the crime of the century, the couple still violated Florida law.
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Photo Credit: Bay News 9, WikiCommons