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If you are charged with a sexual assault crime, the penalties can be severe. A compassionate sex crime defense attorney understands that even those who are exonerated with a “not guilty” verdict can be negatively impacted long-term.
Your choice of sex crime lawyer is important because of Florida’s tough laws on these offenses, such as the sexual battery description and punishments (“Sexual battery”: Title XLVI, Chapter 794.011), Florida Sexual Predators Act (Title XLVI, Chapter 775.21), and sex offender registration provisions (“Sexual offenders required to register with the department; penalty”: Title XLVII, Chapter 943.0435).
One of the most widely known types of charge for which a sex crime attorney is needed is possession of child pornography. This crime has been a recent focus of arrests in Polk County, with up to 50 people arrested at once and accused of this life-altering, potentially reputation-crippling charge. In sting operations that extensive, people are often falsely accused and have their privacy invaded.
Your sex crime defense attorney at Fulmer Law, PA, will be caring about the gravity of your situation while leveraging the legal expertise to develop your case, using the details of the charges and evidence to your advantage.
A sex offender, or sexual offender, is defined under Florida law as a person who has been convicted of certain sexual crimes, whether in Florida or elsewhere. Generally speaking (see full details on the official Florida website), adults who get convictions for any of the following must register: most cases of sexual battery (F.S. 794.011); human trafficking (F.S. 787.06(3)); certain activities understood as “sexual misconduct” (F.S. 393.135(2), 394.4593(2), 916.1075(2), and 985.701(1)); most cases of digital pornography(F.S. 847.0135); illegal sexual interaction with (F.S. 794.05), kidnapping (F.S. 787.01), false imprisonment of (F.S. 787.02), improper video capturing of (F.S. 810.145(8)), luring and enticing (F.S. 787.025(2)(c)), hiring as a prostitute (former F.S. 796.03), sex-related purchasing or selling of (former F.S. 796.035), sex-related performance by (F.S. 827.071), or obscene behavior in the presence of (F.S. 847.0133) children; buying or selling of children for pornography (F.S. 847.0145), sending child pornography via digital means (F.S. 847.0137), or sending pornography to children (F.S. 847.0138); inappropriate (lewd and lascivious) behavior in front of either a child under age 16 (F.S. 800.04) or a disabled/elderly person(F.S. 825.1025); or illegal debt and racketeering crimes (F.S. 895.03) that involve illicit sex activity.
Sexual predators are strictly delineated by Florida law. The term refers to anyone who has a conviction for a violent sex crime (F.S. 775.21) and has a court order describing them as a predator. The term may also refer to someone who has been involuntarily committed for mental health (per the Florida Jimmy Ryce Sexually Violent Predator Act) with a court order assigning them predator status.
If you are considered a sexual predator or sex offender according to Florida law, you must go to your local sheriff to register. The following personal details will be required: your photograph, name, birthdate, social security number, home address, all personal phone numbers, email addresses, and “internet identifiers” (typically usernames for online accounts), employer and workplace address, race, sex, height, weight, eye color, hair color, fingerprints and palm prints, tattoos or other unique features, details related to your car, criminal record, and passport/ immigration paperwork and specifics related to any professional licensure. In most cases (except as described in Chapter 119, F.S.), all those elements become public record.
Depending on the crime, you will have to return to the sheriff to re-register either every six months or every three months (F.S. 943.0435(14)(b)) for the rest of your life. Whenever you move or change your name, you need to get a new driver license within 48 hours. You will be listed within the searchable public sex offender portal, the Florida Sexual Offender/Predator Registry (F.S. 775.21 and 943.0435).
The Florida Sexual Offender/Predator Registry is updated as new information is entered into or received by the state’s database.
If you are a juvenile and you received an adult conviction for sex crimes that require registration, in most cases (meeting the parameters of F.S. 943.0435 or 775.21), you must register as a sex offender through your local sheriff. You also have to register if you were adjudicated delinquent (F.S. 943.0435(1)(a)1.d).
Even if you are only here for a trip, to attend college, or are in Florida for employment, you have to register within 48 hours of your arrival at a temporary residence. You must also go to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles within 48 hours after completing registration. You have to register in every county that is a location for your temporary home, workplace, or school. Fuller details are available through the Florida state website.
If you are traveling outside Florida but within the United States, you have to physically go to the sheriff’s office 48 hours prior to your planned departure and provide address information where you will stay. If you are traveling internationally, you must visit the sheriff’s office 21 days ahead of time and provide detailed travel information, i.e. flight numbers. Unexpected travel can sometimes get exceptions to these timeframes. Consult a criminal law attorney if you have any questions.
The so-called “Romeo & Juliet Law” (F.S. 943.04354) provides exceptions that allow you not to have to register as a sexual predator or offender if the sexual interaction was consensual, the victim’s age was at least 13 and no more than 4 years younger than you, and it is your only registerable sex crime – provided that your petition is approved by the court.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FLDE) is charged with posting sexual predator and offender information to the Internet through its site – details provided through registration (such as a photo and address). Anyone can access this information through the state’s Offender Search system. People can also get email notifications when sexual predators or offenders move into their neighborhood through the Florida Offender Alert System. Related to individuals, you can buy their criminal history for a small fee, as described on the FDLE site. You can also contact the local Clerk of Courts for information on specific crimes.
People who think that a sexual offense has taken place can contact their local police or sheriff. They can also contact the Florida Computer Crime Center if they observe sex trafficking or child pornography online. Finally, they can report the absence of a sex offender from the address in the public registry to their local law enforcement as well.
Civil commitment is the process through which a person may be institutionalized for psychiatric issues that could cause them to commit sex crimes, per the Jimmy Ryce Civil Commitment Act (F.S 394.910-394.932).
Florida state law does not make it unlawful for a sex offender to live in a certain location or with others who are in the public registry (F.S. 775.215). Nonetheless, there are sometimes local codes that restrict where offenders or predators are allowed to reside, with whom they are allowed to interact, and allowable proximity to certain parts of the community. You can get that information from your local sheriff.
Offenders or predators are allowed to live in the same residence as children, unless specifically directed by a court ruling (available via the Department of Corrections or Department of Juvenile Justice).
There are certain situations in which a person can be removed from the sexual offender registry. The person may hire a criminal defense attorney to petition the court for so-called “Romeo & Juliet” offenses that involve a victim between 13 and 17 years, as long as the person is no more than four years older than the victim. A sexual offender can also submit a petition if it has been more than 25 years since they were under any kind of state monitoring or incarceration for certain offenses. There is a list of exceptions outlined on the Florida state website. Note that accepting or denying these petitions is at the court’s discretion, and most sexual offenders that fall outside of these exceptions will remain on the registry for life.
In the state of Florida, sex offenders are permitted to have computers, access the Internet, use email, and set up social media accounts. Nonetheless, it is possible that the court will establish specific parameters related to a certain individual (accessible via the Department of Corrections or Department of Juvenile Justice).
If you are not currently being supervised by the Florida Department of Corrections or Department of Juvenile Justice, you can use an online portal called the Cyber Communications System to make changes to some registration information: email addresses, online usernames (“Internet identifiers”), phone numbers, workplace, and student status. If you are currently being supervised, these changes should be addressed face-to-face with your probation officer.
When a sex offender or predator dies, they stay within the public registry for one year.