November 17, 2017 By Erin Elizabeth
It appears the State of Florida has far too much time on its hands (or the governor is directing them to keep them off his corrupt trail); they have been threatening Heather Kokesch Del Castillo of Fort Walton Beach with A YEAR IN JAIL unless she stops telling people what to eat. 1
Del Castillo isn’t going up to total strangers and telling them what they should and should not eat. No, she is consulting with people about dietary and nutritional advice, mostly over Skype and Google hangouts, for a fee. This is her job.
However, although she’s a licensed holistic health coach in the state of California, in Florida she is not, so the state has “declared her an unlicensed dietician and fined her more than $750. She faces misdemeanor charges if she doesn’t shut her mouth, with further fines of up to $1,000 for each incident and possibly even a year in prison.”2 (To become a licensed dietician in Florida requires a bachelor’s degree in the appropriate field, 900 hours of supervised practice, fees and a completed test. For a license she already has in California- on top of a Bachelors and Masters degree!)
And so, Del Castillo has turned to the lawyers at the Institute for Justice, for help:
“The advice Heather offers is pure speech, no different from the constitutionally protected speech of the cookbook authors whose philosophies and recipes she recommends to her clients. In fact, under Florida law, it would be perfectly legal if Heather published her advice in a book. And under binding Supreme Court precedent, laws that restrict speech based on its subject matter are subject to the most rigorous level of constitutional scrutiny. Moreover, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the mere fact that a person is paid for their speech has no effect on its level of constitutional protection.”3
After a licensed state of Florida dietician reported her, an investigator with Florida’s Department of Health posed as a potential customer and asked Del Castillo for info about a weight-loss program. By responding to the question, even though she never claimed to be a licensed dietitian, the Department of Health said that she was behaving like a licensed dietitian anyway.
This is beyond absurd.
We will obviously update you with any new information we receive about Del Castillo’s case.