What is it about Florida? Some of the craziest stories come from Florida, most involving criminals (and their hilarious mugshots). And those enforcing the law in the great Sunshine State are not exempt from strange and downright unbelievable actions.
Judges sit at the top of the criminal justice hierarchy, and for judges in Florida, they hold the power of sentencing some of the most creative and stupid criminals known to man. And for those people, the oddity of their crimes is reflected in the oddity of their sentencing. Judges in Florida sentencing criminals to weird punishments is sadly more common than you'd think. These weird Florida sentences range from the practical to the absolutely absurd. So before you think of committing a crime, you might want to take a peek at these funny sentences by Florida judges before booking your ticket.
Judge Peter T. Miller took a novel approach to punishing first-time shoplifters in Putnam County, FL. Instead of sending them to jail for 30 days as usual, he often forced these thieves to go to the store they stole from and march outside holding signs that explain what crime they committed. He believes it is a deterrent, as the community is small and the perpetrators cannot remain anonymous.
“You have to see them because this is also for the folks out there who obey the law,” Miller told a local news station. “They see that the punishment is something more than just a slap on the wrist. They can see this is what happens when you break the law. It’s maybe something they can point out to a child they’re raising.”
One court in Florida decided to take a new approached to educating young drivers after they realized fines weren't working. Rather than give them the ordinary sentence, Judge Louis H. Schiff had them create scrapbooks about road traffic accidents from newspaper clippings and had them raise their grade-point average. He then kept these scrapbooks for other defendants to go through while they are in court waiting for their own traffic infractions.
One judge in Bradford County, FL, took a novel approach to punishing petty criminals by giving them really unique sentences. Most boiled down to some form of to public shaming where the perpetrator held a sign in a prominent public place telling everyone what they did. The technique has largely been used against those convicted of theft or DUI and is seen as a way of stopping people from reoffending, as well as cutting down on fines or prison time. Considering how small the area is and how concentrated the population is, law officials believe it is also preventing others from committing similar crimes as they don’t want to go through the embarrassment of everyone finding out what they did.
In 2010, Alexandra Espinosa-Amaya ended up in more trouble than she would ever have imagined. The 24-year-old was ejected from a nightclub in Orlando while celebrating her birthday, prompting police officers to respond when they saw bouncers struggle with her. This eventually led to Alexandra pushing over an officer. The judge at her trial took a novel approach with her punishment, sentencing her to anger management classes and having to parade outside of the police station where the officer was located for four hours while telling people what she had done.