The cruise ship industry is a major source of revenue in Florida, and in fact, Florida law seeks to protect cruise-goers by extending subject matter jurisdiction to criminal acts that occur on cruise ships that leave Florida ports. However, the Third District Court of Appeals in Miami recently heard a Florida sexual assault case between two cruise boat crew members in a recent proceeding.
As mentioned earlier, the defendant was a crew member aboard a cruise ship and attempted to commit sexual battery against another crew member while the ship was in international waters. The defendant is a citizen of Grenada, and the victim is a citizen of Nicaragua. The cruise ship departed from Miami and returned to Miami, and almost all of the paying passengers boarded and disembarked in Miami. Following the attempted sexual battery, the defendant was taken into custody and confined to the brig of the ship until it returned to Miami, at which point Miami-Dade law enforcement took the defendant into custody. The defendant was then charged with battery, attempted sexual battery, and false imprisonment.
The defendant argued that the State did not have subject matter jurisdiction to prosecute him. The trial court denied the motion, and then the defendant pled guilty to attempted sexual battery and appealed to the Third District Court of Appeals.