A Florida fitness trainer, Elissa Alvarez, 20, and his girlfriend, Jose Caballero, 40, have been found guily in a notorious case where they were filmed having sex on a public beach in front of families with children. There is general agreement that Alvarez and Cabellero were disgusting and shocking in their conduct. There is little debate that they deserved to be arrested for lewd and lascivious exhibition, particularly with a videotape and calls to the police. However in a move that has become all-too-common , the prosecutors are set to punish the couple for not pleading guilty by pushing for an absurdly draconian sentence against Caballero of up to 15 years in jail.
Keep in mind that both Alvarez and Cabellero will have to register as sex offenders — a huge penalty that comes with social stigma and living restrictions. There is no need for a lengthy jail sentence. These two have been widely (and legitimately) called low-life pigs.
The two decided to go to trial despite the videotape and eyewitness testimony. They both insisted that they were not actually having sex. While it was a weak defense case, they have every right to seek a verdict. However, prosecutors now take the view that if they demand for a plea is ignored, they are relieved on any further duty to be reasonable and just in their indictments and sentencing arguments. I have seen this happen over and over again. It is vindictive and retaliatory against those who want to go to trial. I have had prosecutors tell me that “this is how the game is played” — you defy the state on a plea and they throw the book at you. However, the result is clogging our jails with excessive sentences and maintaining a crippling threat against those who simply want to seek a verdict on their charges. Assistant State Attorney Anthony Dafonseca voiced the same lack of any responsibility in seeking the maximum sentencing – blaming the couple the heavy potential sentence for seeking a trial: “We gave them a reasonable offer, what we felt was reasonable, and they decided it wasn’t something they wanted to accept responsibility for.”
Caballero is in the worst position because he served in the past for trafficking cocaine.
Once again, the conduct of these two deserves serious punishment, but 15 years? What do you think?