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Batiz v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Fifth District

October 25, 2019

YOVANY BATIZ, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Brevard County, Morgan Laur Reinman, Judge.

          James S. Purdy, Public Defender, and Susan A. Fagan, Assistant Public Defender, Daytona Beach, for Appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Andrea K. Totten, Assistant Attorney General, Daytona Beach, for Appellee.

          COHEN, J.

         Yovany Batiz, a Honduran citizen, was convicted by a jury of lewd or lascivious molestation of a person less than sixteen years of age.[1] On appeal, Batiz raises a number of issues. We affirm and write only to address Batiz's arguments related to state special maritime criminal jurisdiction pursuant to section 910.006, Florida Statutes (2018).

         Batiz was a cabin steward on a cruise ship. The alleged incident leading to the charges against Batiz occurred while the cruise ship was in international waters.[2]However, the State alleged in the information that the events occurred in Brevard County, Florida. At Batiz's trial, following the State's case-in-chief, Batiz moved for judgment of acquittal, asserting for the first time that the State failed to invoke the maritime criminal jurisdiction of the trial court because the information alleged that the events occurred in Brevard County, which was indisputably incorrect.[3] He alternatively argued that the State failed to prove jurisdiction pursuant to section 910.006. The trial court denied Batiz's motion.

         On appeal, Batiz maintains that the information did not invoke the maritime criminal jurisdiction of the trial court because the State failed to allege, pursuant to section 910.006, a maritime occurrence in the charging document.[4] He also maintains that the State's evidence was insufficient to prove that the trial court had jurisdiction pursuant to that statute.

         In enacting section 910.006, the Florida Legislature found that "Florida is a major center for international travel and trade by sea" and "has an interest in ensuring the protection of persons traveling to or from Florida by sea." § 910.006(1)(a)-(b), Fla. Stat. The statute establishes maritime criminal jurisdiction in Florida courts to hear charges based on acts or omissions on board ships outside the state in delimited circumstances. Id. § 910.006(1)(e). The circumstances provided are:

(a) There is a suspect on board the ship who is a citizen or resident of this state or a state which consents to the jurisdiction of this state.
(b) The master of the ship or an official of the flag state commits a suspect on board the ship to the custody of a law enforcement officer acting under the authority of this state.
c) The state in whose territory the act or omission occurred requests the exercise of jurisdiction by this state.
(d) The act or omission occurs during a voyage on which over half of the revenue passengers on board the ship originally embarked and plan to finally disembark in this state, without regard to intermediate stopovers.
(e) The victim is a Florida law enforcement officer on board the ship in connection with his ...

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