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Stoffel v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

May 16, 2018

Rafael Jacob Stoffel, Appellant,
v.
State of Florida, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

          On appeal from the Circuit Court for Okaloosa County. William F. Stone, Judge.

          Michael Ufferman, Michael Ufferman Law Firm, P.A., Tallahassee, for Appellant.

          Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Trisha Meggs Pate, Assistant Attorney General, Thomas H. Duffy, Assistant Attorney General, Tayo Popoola, Assistant Attorney General, and Steven Woods, Assistant Attorney General, Tallahassee.

          B.L. Thomas, C.J.

         Appellant, Rafael Jacob Stoffel, appeals his conviction and sentence for lewd or lascivious molestation of a child under the age of twelve. § 800.04(5), Fla. Stat. (2014). Appellant raises two issues on appeal: 1) whether the trial court erred by denying his request for a jury instruction on the lesser-included offense of battery; and 2) whether the trial court's imposition of the minimum-mandatory term of twenty-five years' imprisonment constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under both the Florida and federal constitutions.[*] We find no merit as to the second issue, but write to address Appellant's claim that he was entitled to a jury instruction on battery.

         I.

         Appellant took his nine-year-old stepdaughter, S.P., to a movie on a "daddy-daughter" date to celebrate her upcoming birthday. A few minutes into the movie, Appellant asked if he could touch S.P.'s breasts. S.P. consented and Appellant proceeded to put his hand underneath S.P.'s shirt and grabbed her breasts. After the movie, Appellant apologized to S.P. for his actions.

         Approximately a year after the incident, S.P.'s mother asked S.P. if Appellant had ever touched her inappropriately. S.P. then told her mother what occurred. S.P.'s mother then confronted Appellant about the incident, and Appellant admitted to touching S.P.'s breasts. Appellant expressed remorse for his actions and self-reported the incident by calling the Department of Children and Families (DCF). As a result, DCF sent its investigator and an Okaloosa County Deputy Sheriff to S.P.'s home. Recorded interviews were conducted with S.P., her mother, and Appellant. S.P. reiterated what had occurred during the movie. During his interview, Appellant stated that when he apologized to S.P for his actions, she stated, "Well, I did say yes." At the conclusion of the interviews, Appellant was arrested and charged with lewd or lascivious molestation of a child under the age of twelve.

         During trial, S.P. testified that Appellant touched her breasts for approximately two to three minutes and told her that she was "growing up" and "becoming quite the woman." Additionally, S.P. testified that she "felt like something was wrong, but I wasn't, like, exactly sure, and I didn't really know what was going on." Appellant testified and admitted to touching S.P.'s breasts for a few seconds. Both the State and defense counsel stipulated that, while Appellant was touching S.P., Appellant told S.P. "your chest is getting big."

         At the charge conference, defense counsel asked for a jury instruction on the lesser-included offense of battery. The trial court denied the request. The trial court, however, granted defense counsel's request for a jury instruction on the lesser-included offense of attempted lewd or lascivious molestation and a jury instruction for an unnatural and lascivious act.

         In its closing statement, the defense argued that Appellant did not have the lascivious intent required to be found guilty of lewd or lascivious molestation. The trial court then instructed the jury:

THE COURT: Lewd or lascivious molestation. To prove the crime of lewd or lascivious molestation, the State must prove the following three elements beyond and to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt: One, [S.P.] was under the age of 12 at the time of the offense. Two, Rafael Stoffel intentionally touched in a lewd or lascivious manner the breasts of [S.P.]. Three, Rafael Stoffel was 18 years of age or older at the time of the offense.
The words "lewd" and "lascivious" mean the same thing. They mean a wicked, lustful, unchaste, licentious, or sensual attempt on the part of the person ...

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