State v. Knighton, No. SC16–1426

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
Citation235 So.3d 312
Parties STATE of Florida, Petitioner, v. Ronnie J. KNIGHTON, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. SC16–1426
Decision Date01 February 2018

235 So.3d 312

STATE of Florida, Petitioner,
v.
Ronnie J. KNIGHTON, Respondent.

No. SC16–1426

Supreme Court of Florida.

[February 1, 2018]


Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, Florida, Celia Terenzio, Bureau Chief, and Jeanine M. Germanowicz, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach, Florida, for Petitioner

Carey Haughwout, Public Defender, and Tatjana Ostapoff, Assistant Public Defender, Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, West Palm Beach, Florida, for Respondent

PER CURIAM.

235 So.3d 314

The State of Florida seeks review of the decision of the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Knighton v. State, 193 So.3d 115 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016), on the ground that it expressly and directly conflicts with the decision of the Second District Court of Appeal in Harris v. State, 742 So.2d 835 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999), on a question of law. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(3), Fla. Const.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Knighton was charged with one count of lewd or lascivious battery. Knighton, 193 So.3d at 116. The information charged Knighton by specifically alleging penile union or penetration with the child victim's vagina. Id."During the charge conference, Knighton requested the jury be instructed on the lesser-included offense of unnatural and lascivious act. The State objected to the request, reasoning that there is nothing ‘unnatural’ about traditional penile-vaginal intercourse." Id. The trial court denied Knighton's request and the jury ultimately convicted Knighton of lewd or lascivious battery. Id.

The Fourth District reversed, explaining that Knighton was entitled to the unnatural and lascivious instruction because, agreeing with the Fifth District in Funiciello v. State, 179 So.3d 388 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015), "digital penetration and sexual intercourse between an adult perpetrator and a child victim constitute unnatural and lascivious acts in that such conduct is not in accordance with nature or with normal feelings or behavior and are lustful acts performed with sensual intent on the part of the defendant." Knighton, 193 So.3d at 117 (emphasis omitted) (quoting Funiciello, 179 So.3d at 391 ). Because Knighton, an adult, engaged in sexual intercourse with a minor victim, the Fourth District found that he was entitled to the unnatural and lascivious instruction. Id. The State then sought review of the Fourth District's decision in Knighton in this Court, alleging conflict with Harris, 742 So.2d 835.

In Harris, which also involved an adult perpetrator having sexual intercourse with a child victim, the Second District came to the opposite conclusion, holding that a defendant charged with lewd or lascivious battery is not entitled to an instruction on unnatural and lascivious act where penile union with a child victim's vagina is alleged in the information, regardless of the evidence adduced at trial. 742 So.2d at 838. The Second District reasoned that "the legislature intended for section 800.02 [unnatural and lascivious act] to be applied to different factual situations than would fall under section 800.04 [lewd or lascivious battery]. The term ‘unnatural’ in 800.02 distinguishes 800.02 from 800.04, and implies something more than what is covered by 800.04." Id.

This review follows.

ANALYSIS

Because this matter involves a solely legal determination based on undisputed facts, our standard of review is de novo. See Khianthalat v. State, 974 So.2d 359, 360–61 (Fla. 2008) ; Williams v. State, 957 So.2d 595, 598 (Fla. 2007).

At issue in this case is whether Knighton was entitled to an instruction on the permissive lesser included offense of unnatural and lascivious act.

We begin by defining lesser included offenses. Lesser included offenses fall into two categories: necessary and permissive. Necessarily lesser included offenses are those offenses in which the statutory elements of the lesser included offense are always subsumed within those of the charged offense. State v. Paul, 934 So.2d 1167, 1176 (Fla. 2006). A
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6 practice notes
  • In re Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases—report 2018-04, No. SC18-1113
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 15, 2018
    ...a Category Two lesser offense to instructions 11.7, 11.10(f), 11.18, and 29.13, and a new comment based in part upon State v. Knighton , 235 So.3d 312 (Fla. 2018), modifies that lesser-included offense, as follows:The courts do not require the State to allege the defendant's act was "unnatu......
  • De Aragon v. State, No. 4D17-2010
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • May 22, 2019
    ...a jury instruction on an alleged permissive lesser-included offense is a question reviewed de novo by this court. See State v. Knighton , 235 So.3d 312, 314 (Fla. 2018). Here, we must determine whether Appellant was entitled to a permissive lesser-included simple battery instruction on the ......
  • State v. Fiddemon, No. 4D19-0438
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • May 27, 2020
    ...is not to view any one or more of section 948.012(1) ’s three clauses in isolation. As our supreme court held in State v. Knighton , 235 So. 3d 312 (Fla. 2018) :[W]e will not look merely to a particular clause in which general words may be used, but will take in connection with it the whole......
  • Anderson v. State, No. 1D15–5433
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • May 25, 2018
    ...and (2) there is some evidence presented at trial establishing each element of the requested lesser-included offense. State v. Knighton , 235 So.3d 312, 315 (Fla. 2018) (quoting Khianthalat, 974 So.2d at 361 ).The offense of reckless driving involves driving a vehicle "in willful or wanton ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • In re Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases—report 2018-04, No. SC18-1113
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 15, 2018
    ...a Category Two lesser offense to instructions 11.7, 11.10(f), 11.18, and 29.13, and a new comment based in part upon State v. Knighton , 235 So.3d 312 (Fla. 2018), modifies that lesser-included offense, as follows:The courts do not require the State to allege the defendant's act was "unnatu......
  • De Aragon v. State, No. 4D17-2010
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • May 22, 2019
    ...a jury instruction on an alleged permissive lesser-included offense is a question reviewed de novo by this court. See State v. Knighton , 235 So.3d 312, 314 (Fla. 2018). Here, we must determine whether Appellant was entitled to a permissive lesser-included simple battery instruction on the ......
  • State v. Fiddemon, No. 4D19-0438
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • May 27, 2020
    ...is not to view any one or more of section 948.012(1) ’s three clauses in isolation. As our supreme court held in State v. Knighton , 235 So. 3d 312 (Fla. 2018) :[W]e will not look merely to a particular clause in which general words may be used, but will take in connection with it the whole......
  • Anderson v. State, No. 1D15–5433
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • May 25, 2018
    ...and (2) there is some evidence presented at trial establishing each element of the requested lesser-included offense. State v. Knighton , 235 So.3d 312, 315 (Fla. 2018) (quoting Khianthalat, 974 So.2d at 361 ).The offense of reckless driving involves driving a vehicle "in willful or wanton ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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