Where is the line when promoting live obscene shows in a bar? Three Florida men were arrested for promoting obscenity at a Polk County nightclub.
The arrests were made because law enforcement described the bar’s activities as a “violent public nuisance.” Under those circumstances, the police began an investigation of the business and arrested the bar owner, the event promoter and the head of security. The Winter Haven Police Department, the Florida Department of Financial Services and the State Attorney’s Office led the investigation. Three men were charged with a variety of crimes, including, but not limited to “live obscene shows.”
When the police inspected the nightclub they discovered nude women picking up money thrown on the floor in response to dancing routines on stage. The arresting team of officers indicated the bar was noted for incidents that disturbed the peace, fighting, unruly and loud crowds, and shootings. It appears, according to the police blotter, that in the past year, there have been more than 200 calls dealing with fights, property destruction, traffic complaints and shootings – mischief to serious injuries.
As a result of the lively activity at the bar, a neighboring store was forced to shut down on certain evenings when the nightclub patrons left for home. The police indicated they had tried to work out some kind of solution to reduce the nuisance and safety hazards posed by the bar, and allow store owners in the same vicinity the freedom to conduct business. The compromise did not seem to work, as the club owner allegedly did not live up to his promises and appeared to be using his establishment as a den for further illegal activities.
Ultimately, the police moved in and made arrests, stating their goal was keeping businesses that promoted illegal obscenity out of their community.
This is an interesting case in that, while the promotion of obscenity may be illegal, there may not be enough evidence to substantiate anything else. On the surface of this case, it appears local law enforcement possibly wanted to get even with the club’s owners and thus decided on a number of charges that would meet that end. The other interesting issue here involves freedom of speech in the promotion of live nude dancers. Although “other crimes,” which may refer to drugs or prostitution, are certainly grounds for arrest, it is questionable if the reason for the arrest – promotion of obscenity – is a legal means to an end.
This case may well be fraught with a variety of loopholes in terms of the investigation, the arrests and the charges. Those arrested would be best advised to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Thomas C .Grajek is a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, Lakeland, and Polk County Florida. To contact a Lakeland criminal defense lawyer or to learn more, visit http://www.flcrimedefense.com/ or call 863-688-4606.