This week, Polk county criminal court Judge Fegers rules that the “civil penalty” in prostitution case can not be applied retroactively. This means that if you were arrested before January 1, 2013 before the$5,250.00 fine went into effect, you will NOT have to pay the fine.
This is due to the fact that our Florida and United States Constitution protect citizens from “Ex Post Facto” laws. Judge Fegers ruled that the legislature did not intend the statute to be applied retroactively which ended the matter. However, because the judge did s thorough job, he also analyzed the civil penalty under the “ex post facto doctrine”. This doctrine protects against laws that increase a penalty for the criminal offense AFTER the crime has been committed. The issue in essence was whether when a suspect is charged with violating Florida Statute 796.07(2)(f), the “civil penalty” is a punishment or a “civil remedy” that would not be subject to ex post facto analysis.
Judge Fegers order found that because of the language used in the statute (the word “penalty”), the amount of the penalty, and the imposition of the penalty as to specifically prescribed conduct constituting a specific criminal offense, that the $5,000.00 is a fine and a “penalty” and not a “cost”. This means that the court will not impose the “civil penalty” in excess of $500.00 for violations of Florida Statute 796.07(2)(f) for offenses that occurred prior to the change in the prostitution statute. The “civil penalty” was previously $500.00 for “johns” only.
This motion was filed on the limited basis of increasing the fine in cases where “johns” arrested before January 1 for those that did not resolve their cases quickly. I am still waiting for a ruling from Judge Ojeda as to whether the statute is constitutional on a number of other challenges and grounds. This ruling is expected within the next couple of weeks and will apply to prostitution offense committed after January 1, 2013. Judge Fegers ruling helps my motion because he has now declared the $5,000.00 fine a “penalty” which is a key argument in my motion. Attorney Larry Shearer did an excellent job writing the “Ex Post Facto” motion and arguing it to get this result.
If you have been charged with prostitution or any other crime, call an speak to an aggressive lawyer that will fight for you!
CALL AND SET YOUR FREE OFFICE CONSULTATION NOW!
You will not have to drive to another county. Office — Lakeland, Polk County.
Thomas C. Grajek 863-688-4606
Handling all felony and misdemeanor criminal cases in Polk County, Florida.