It seems as if Florida is making national headlines once again for its self-defense laws, this time for a situation in which most of America would have, without a doubt, done the exact same thing.
On Friday, June 18, 2014, at around 1 am, a Daytona Beach father beat 18-year-old Raymond Frolander to a bloody pulp after coming home to find the babysitter with his pants around the ankles, sexually molesting his 11-year-old son.
The father then called 911 and explained what he had done. When asked what weapon he used, the father merely responded, “My foot and my fist.” He could be heard in the background saying, “You are damn lucky, boy, that I love my God.”
The son later stated that he had been molested by the sitter since the age of 8. Frolander admitted to the abuse in an arrest affidavit.
Many commentators on the Internet maintain that the father should have gone a step further and finished Frolander off. Daytona Beach police indicate that there will not be any charges filed against the father since he was just acting like a dad and “doing what any dad would do.”
While I can’t imagine what the father must be going through and applaud his restraint under such intense emotional turmoil, from a legal perspective, I’m slightly troubled by the enthusiasm over this beat down.
Florida’s self-defense law, putting aside any special variations or allowances for protection of one’s home or property, is much like the model penal code and states,
Use of force in defense of person: A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force.
However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:
(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
In Florida, as with most jurisdictions, the father was legally justified in intervening because he saw both the threat of imminent bodily harm and a forcible felony being committed.
However, it’s important to note the situation would have been drastically different had he not caught Frolander in the act.
Our criminal justice system is set up to allow the government to inflict penalties on our behalf, not to facilitate vigilante justice. Death would be an easy way out for Frolander.
He’s 18 and his victim was under the age of 12, meaning that Frolander will be subject to Florida’s harshest penalties and mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
Why kill Frolander when he could have 25 years to life in prison? Mind you, sex offenders do not fare well in prison. Even when grouped with murderers and rapists, child molesters are still at the bottom of the totem pole and treated as such.
That kind of sentence would inflict far more pain, suffering and torture than any one-time beating.
Moreover, the stigma and registration requirements Frolander would be subject to as a tier III sexual offender will follow him for whatever life he has left after prison, if any.
In short, there are laws in place to administer a far more appropriate punishment than any physical beating ever could.
While I support the father’s actions and can say, without question, that I would have reacted the exact same way had one of my loved ones been in peril, I hope we all resist the urge to encourage physical retribution by harmed parties as an alternative to the law.
The situation isn’t always this black and white; had the father heard about the abuse the day after, sought out Frolander and then beat him within an inch of his life, he would have been guilty of attempted murder.
My sincerest condolences to this family. I only hope that Frolander continues to suffer the same pain and shaming for the duration of his life as an inmate in prison.
Photo Courtesy: Facebook