Florida Teens Who Allegedly Filmed Drowning Man Will Not Face Charges
The decision this month (June 2018) not to prosecute the Florida teens who allegedly “laughed” and “recorded a drowning man” is gaining news headlines of late.
The teens were accused of laughing as the disabled man struggled to stay afloat in a pond near his home last year, as was recorded in a video and posted on social media. They also reportedly admitted that they were smoking marijuana at the time.
Florida Does Not Have a Good Samaritan or Related Law
Previously, the police department recommended that the state attorney’s office prosecute for “failure to report a death.” However, the spokesperson for the Office of the State Attorney asserted that there is technically no Florida law requiring that someone provide emergency assistance, especially as applied to the facts of this case. In fact, Florida does not have any Good Samaritan laws at all that would obligate citizens to render aid or even call for help if someone is in distress. This makes prosecuting the teens just for the sake of making an example of them legally difficult. The State Attorney cannot pursue criminal charges without reasonable belief of proving a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
What Florida does have is what is known as the “medical examiners statute,” which obligates someone to report a death. This statute was reportedly designed to cover those who work in hospitals and nursing homes as caregivers. The purpose of the law appears to be oriented towards preventing citizens from tampering with evidence associated with a death in case of a potential homicide investigation. Originally, the police chief indicated that he would recommend charging the teens under this statute, even though the statute clearly does not apply to the circumstances.
Laws Going Into Effect as Of July 1
A law that would have set the tone for prosecuting the teens was proposed during the 2018 legislative session, but failed to receive sufficient support. In addition, in the potential case against these teens, there were a number of discrepancies concerning the time of death for the victim and the admissibility of the video.
However, it is still important to note that there are a number of bills that Gov. Rick Scott signed into law that will take effect on July 1 and include new criminal provisions. Some of these new laws, for example:
- Block minors from getting married in Florida: marriage is now barred for anyone under the age of 18, except for 17-year-olds who receive written consent from their parents or guardians (as long as the person they are marrying is no more than two years older than they are); and
- Place limits on prescriptions that doctors can write for acute pain (to try and control the opioid epidemic).
Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you are being charged with a crime in Florida and state prosecutors are clearly misapplying the law, just so that they can prosecute you and set an example, contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today to find out how we can help.