I used to think that paying less for something was a good deal. Lower price = better deal, right? Now I’m a bit older, and my position has evolved (‘evolved’ is a condescending term, right?). It’s not always a good idea to go with the lowest price. Often, paying more for something means you’re getting a better value. So, finding the lowest priced burger, or steak, or car, or attorney—is not a good idea. Quality matters, value matters. And on that note, this article is worth what you paid for it.
Anyway, one of my favorite restaurants is Bern’s Steak House. Whenever I’m in Tampa, I try to hit Bern’s, and I consider it an excellent value. When I mentioned this to a friend who likes steak, he quipped that he can’t afford expensive steak houses. I don’t consider Bern’s expensive. A mere $34 buys a small filet, plus salad, plus loaded baked potato, plus French onion soup, plus two side items. That’s a lot of food for under $35. My friend says Outback does the same thing for $17, half the price. I say Bern’s at twice the price is a bargain, he says I’m paying too much.
Pricing tends to be relative, yet We The People have a constitutional protection against our government charging us too much bail, or too much of a fine. Excessive fines are banned by the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. How can we tell if a fine is too expensive for the crime? That question was recently addressed in State v. Cotton, 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 2859 (Fla. 2nd DCA February 26, 2016).
Cotton was convicted of soliciting a prostitute, something perfectly legal in Nevada and most of the planet–but illegal in Florida. Solicitation is a second degree misdemeanor, meaning that, a conviction can put you in jail for up to 60 days, and possibly a maximum fine of $500. In case you’re wondering how serious this crime really is, Florida has no lower criminal act than a second degree misdemeanor. That being said, the solicitation statute changed a few years ago by adding a mandatory fine of $5,000. Yes, you heard me. Let’s say you “holla” out of your vehicle for a street walker to enter your car for sex–that will get you a $5,000 fine. Not $2,850. Not $4,432. You must get the full $5,000 fine. This seems a bit excessive, doesn’t it? If you molest a child, there’s no $5,000 mandatory fine. If you beat your wife in front of the child you just molested, there’s no mandatory $5,000 fine. I could go on, but you get the idea. Continue Reading