Jones v. State, Nos. 81970

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtMcDONALD; GRIMES; KOGAN; KOGAN
Citation640 So.2d 1084
Parties, 19 Fla. L. Weekly S280 Quarry JONES, Petitioner, v. STATE of Florida, Respondent. Erik RODRIGUEZ, et al., Petitioners, v. STATE of Florida, Respondent.
Decision Date26 May 1994
Docket NumberNos. 81970,81992

Page 1084

640 So.2d 1084
63 USLW 2031, 19 Fla. L. Weekly S280
Quarry JONES, Petitioner,
v.
STATE of Florida, Respondent.
Erik RODRIGUEZ, et al., Petitioners,
v.
STATE of Florida, Respondent.
Nos. 81970, 81992.
Supreme Court of Florida.
May 26, 1994.
Rehearing Denied Aug. 15, 1994.

James B. Gibson, Public Defender and James R. Wulchak, Chief, Appellate Div., Asst. Public Defender, Daytona Beach, and Billy H. Nolas, Sp. Public Defender and Julie D. Naylor, Ocala, for petitioners.

Page 1085

Robert A. Butterworth, Atty. Gen. and Joan Fowler, Sr. Asst. Atty. Gen., West Palm Beach, for respondent.

Nina E. Vinik, Miami, amicus curiae for the American Civ. Liberties Union Foundation of Florida.

David A. Henson of Kirkconnell, Lindsey & Snure, P.A., Winter Park, amicus curiae for Florida Ass'n of Crim. Defense Lawyers (FACDL).

McDONALD, Senior Justice.

We review Jones v. State, 619 So.2d 418 (Fla. 5th DCA 1993), which upheld the constitutionality of section 800.04, Florida Statutes (1991). The district court certified the issue to this court as a question of great public importance. Id. at 422. We have jurisdiction pursuant to article V, section 3(b)(4) of the Florida Constitution. We approve the decision of the district court.

In case number 81,970, Quarry Jones, age eighteen, was charged and convicted of violating section 800.04, Florida Statutes (1991). Section 800.04 provides that any person who:

(1) Handles, fondles or makes an assault upon any child under the age of 16 years in a lewd, lascivious, or indecent manner;

(2) Commits actual or simulated sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, sexual bestiality, masturbation, sadomasochistic abuse, actual lewd exhibition of the genitals, or any act or conduct which simulates that sexual battery is being or will be committed upon any child under the age of 16 years or forces or entices the child to commit any such act;

(3) Commits an act defined as sexual battery under s. 794.011(1)(h) upon any child under the age of 16 years; or

(4) Knowingly commits any lewd or lascivious act in the presence of any child under the age of 16 years,

without committing the crime of sexual battery, commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. Neither the victim's lack of chastity nor the victim's consent is a defense to the crime proscribed by this section.

At trial Jones was denied the opportunity to raise consent as a defense. The court sentenced him to four and one-half years' imprisonment, to be followed by six months' probation. The district court affirmed the conviction.

In case number 81,992, Rodriguez, age nineteen, and Williams, age twenty, were also charged with violating section 800.04. The parties stipulated at trial that the girls with whom the defendants had sexual intercourse were fourteen years of age and consented to having intercourse. Neither girl desired to prosecute and the charges were instituted by the sister in Rodriguez and by the mother in Williams. The trial court held section 800.04 unconstitutional as applied and the district court reversed. The district court certified the issued to this Court as one of great public importance.

We first address the merits of the State's argument that the petitioners do not have standing to assert the claimed privacy rights of the girls with whom they had sexual intercourse. In Stall v. State, 570 So.2d 257 (Fla.1990), cert. denied, 501 U.S. 1250, 111 S.Ct. 2888, 115 L.Ed.2d 1054 (1991), we held that the sellers of obscene materials had vicarious standing to raise the privacy rights of their customers. The petitioners in the instant case, like the sellers in Stall, stand to lose from the outcome of this case and yet they have no other effective avenue for preserving their rights. State v. Saiez, 489 So.2d 1125 (Fla.1986). Therefore, the petitioners have standing to attack the constitutionality of the statute under which they were prosecuted. See, e.g., Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438, 92 S.Ct. 1029, 31 L.Ed.2d 349 (1972); Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 85 S.Ct. 1678, 14 L.Ed.2d 510 (1965).

As evidenced by the number and breadth of the statutes concerning minors and sexual exploitation, the Florida Legislature has established an unquestionably strong policy interest in protecting minors from harmful sexual conduct. 1 As we stated

Page 1086

in Schmitt v. State, 590 So.2d 404 (Fla.1991), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 112 S.Ct. 1572, 118 L.Ed.2d 216 (1992), "any type of sexual conduct involving a child constitutes an intrusion upon the rights of that child, whether or not the child consents ... [S]ociety has a compelling interest in intervening to stop such misconduct." Id. at 410-11. In Schmitt the issue involved the constitutionality of a statute making it unlawful to possess material depicting sexual conduct by children. The issue in the instant case involves the constitutionality of a statute making it unlawful to have sexual intercourse with a child under the age of sixteen. In both of these cases, the State intervened in an effort to protect the health, safety, and welfare of children who are inevitably vulnerable to the sexual misconduct of others.

The district court stated that it would seem "disingenuous" to rely on Schmitt for the conclusion that "anytime a minor is seduced, sexual exploitation has occurred." 619 So.2d at 420 n. 2. We are of the opinion that sexual activity with a child opens the door to sexual exploitation, physical harm, and sometimes psychological damage, regardless of the child's maturity or lack of chastity. Therefore, in the instant case, it is appropriate to consider the child protection policies discussed in Schmitt. The petitioners argue that the statute is unconstitutional as applied because the girls in this case have not been harmed; they wanted to have the personal relationships they entered into with these men; and, they do not want the "protections" advanced by the State. However, neither the level of intimacy nor the degree of harm are relevant when an adult and a child under the age of sixteen engage in sexual intercourse. The statutory protection offered by section 800.04 assures that, to the extent the law can prevent such activity, minors will not be sexually harmed. "[S]exual exploitation of children is a particularly pernicious evil that sometimes may be concealed behind the zone of privacy that normally shields the home. The state unquestionably has a very compelling interest in preventing such conduct." 590 So.2d at 410.

The State has the prerogative to safeguard its citizens, particularly children, from potential harm when such harm outweighs the interests of the individual. Griffin v. State, 396 So.2d 152 (Fla.1981).

Despite its intimate character, sexual conduct is highly regulated activity. At any given point, the picture that emerges of the complex web of legal regulation is impressionistic, and some features are difficult to discern. The law of sex, however, can operate as a value generating force when those who create or who are governed by it perceive in the law an underlying vision of appropriate sexual conduct.

Martha Chamallas, Consent, Equality, and the Legal Control of Sexual Conduct, 61 S.Cal.L.Rev. 777, 777 (1988). The legislature enacted section 800.04 based on a "morally neutral judgment" that sexual intercourse with a child under the age of sixteen, with or without consent, is potentially harmful to the child. Stall, 570 So.2d at 261 (quoting Paris Adult Theater I v. Slaton, 413 U.S. 49, 69, 93 S.Ct. 2628, 37 L.Ed.2d 446 (1973)). Although the right to be let alone protects adults from government intrusion into matters relating to marriage, 2 contraception, 3 and abortion, 4 the State "may exercise control over the sexual conduct of children beyond the scope of its authority to control adults." Anderson v. State, 562 P.2d 351, 358 (Alaska 1977) (upheld statute prohibiting fellatio with a child under sixteen years of age, regardless of consent).

The petitioners contend that section 800.04 should be struck down given our decision in In re T.W., 551 So.2d 1186 (Fla.1989), in which we held that the right to privacy encompasses a minor's right to terminate a

Page 1087

pregnancy. Under the statute at issue in T.W., a minor was permitted to consent without parental approval to any medical procedure involving her pregnancy or her existing child, except abortion. We recognized in T.W., for example, that a minor could be authorized to order life support discontinued for a comatose child. Id. at 1195 (citing In re Guardianship of Barry, 445 So.2d 365 (Fla. 2d DCA 1984)). Thus, the rationale for declaring a right of privacy in T.W. was based on the fact that a minor possessed a right of privacy with respect to other types of medical and surgical procedures. T.W. did not transform a minor into an adult for all purposes.

The rights of privacy that have been granted to minors do not vitiate the legislature's efforts and authority to protect minors from conduct of others. We agree with Judge Sharp and the legislature that Florida has an obligation and a compelling interest in protecting children from "sexual activity and exploitation before their minds and bodies have sufficiently matured to make it appropriate, safe and healthy for them." 619 So.2d at 424 (Sharp, J., concurring specially). Accordingly, we approve the decision of the district court upholding the constitutionality of section 800.04, Florida Statutes (1991), affirming the conviction in Jones, and remanding Rodriguez and Williams for appropriate action.

It is so ordered.

GRIMES, C.J., and OVERTON, SHAW and HARDING, JJ., concur.

KOGAN, J., concurs with an opinion.

KOGAN, Justice, concurring.

The case before us involves an issue so distinct from In re T.W., 551 So.2d 1186 (Fla.1989), that I am somewhat surprised this question ever became so confounded. I have considerable difficulty understanding how...

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58 practice notes
  • In re GT, No. 96-610.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • May 19, 2000
    ...an adult from statutory rape prosecution, even though the minor 758 A.2d 308 consented to the sexual activity. See Jones v. State, 640 So.2d 1084, 1087 (Fla. 1994). When the court confronted a similar question in a case where the sexual activities were between juveniles under the age of con......
  • State v. JP, No. SC02-2288
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 18, 2004
    ...been granted to minors do not vitiate the legislature's efforts and authority to protect minors from conduct of others." Jones v. State, 640 So.2d 1084, 1087 (Fla. 1994) (upholding the constitutionality of statute prohibiting sexual contact between adults and minors even when minors ostensi......
  • NORTH FLA. WOMEN'S HEALTH SERVICES v. State, No. SC01-843.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • July 10, 2003
    ...no "majority opinion" in that case. The State points to the following language in Justice Kogan's concurring opinion in Jones v. State, 640 So.2d 1084 On another relevant point, I must express some surprise at the rather widespread practice in Florida of referring to a "majority opinion" in......
  • State v. T.M., No. SC02-2452 (FL 11/18/2004), No. SC02-2452.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 18, 2004
    ...been granted to minors do not vitiate the legislature's efforts and authority to protect minors from conduct of others." Jones v. State, 640 So. 2d 1084, 1087 (Fla. 1994) (upholding the constitutionality of statute prohibiting sexual contact between adults and minors even when minors ostens......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
58 cases
  • In re GT, No. 96-610.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • May 19, 2000
    ...an adult from statutory rape prosecution, even though the minor 758 A.2d 308 consented to the sexual activity. See Jones v. State, 640 So.2d 1084, 1087 (Fla. 1994). When the court confronted a similar question in a case where the sexual activities were between juveniles under the age of con......
  • State v. JP, No. SC02-2288
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 18, 2004
    ...been granted to minors do not vitiate the legislature's efforts and authority to protect minors from conduct of others." Jones v. State, 640 So.2d 1084, 1087 (Fla. 1994) (upholding the constitutionality of statute prohibiting sexual contact between adults and minors even when minors ostensi......
  • NORTH FLA. WOMEN'S HEALTH SERVICES v. State, No. SC01-843.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • July 10, 2003
    ...no "majority opinion" in that case. The State points to the following language in Justice Kogan's concurring opinion in Jones v. State, 640 So.2d 1084 On another relevant point, I must express some surprise at the rather widespread practice in Florida of referring to a "majority opinion" in......
  • State v. T.M., No. SC02-2452 (FL 11/18/2004), No. SC02-2452.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 18, 2004
    ...been granted to minors do not vitiate the legislature's efforts and authority to protect minors from conduct of others." Jones v. State, 640 So. 2d 1084, 1087 (Fla. 1994) (upholding the constitutionality of statute prohibiting sexual contact between adults and minors even when minors ostens......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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