The consequences of not registering as a sex offender in Florida, if you are required to do so, are serious. Not only can you be tried by the State of Florida, you can also be tried by the federal government and if convicted, sent to a federal prison. The rules regarding registration in the Sunshine State are strict and officials expect you to know what they are any time you reside or visit there.

One of the issues with a “failure to register as a sex offender” charge is that by its very definition you already have a prior record. The reason you are required to register is that you were convicted of a sex offense. The court system typically views failure to register as defiance, which doesn’t sit well with the judge. In some cases, failure to register might be due to an honest misunderstanding about what was expected; however, you will need to speak to an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney if you expect to use “misunderstanding” as an explanation for your failure to register.


Florida requires sex offenders to register with local law enforcement in any county that the sex offender will reside in for more than two weeks. The registration must be completed within the first 48 hours of arriving in that county, whether it is because the offender was released from incarceration to that county or moved there from elsewhere.  If coming from out of state, the general rule is that if your conviction would mandate registration in the previous state, then you are required to register in Florida.


You are required to appear at your county sheriff’s office in person each year during the month of your birthday and again during the sixth month after your birthday, or four times a year, depending on the type of conviction you have. All sexual predators must report four times a year. While there, someone will go over all of your information with you to be sure it has not changed without being reported. Some of the information you are required to provide includes:

  • Name
  • Birth Date
  • Social security number
  • Age, gender, race, weight, height and hair/eye color
  • Where you are working
  • Complete information about your vehicle

You will also have your photograph taken and you will be fingerprinted.

In addition, you are required to report to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles within 48 hours of reporting to the first sheriff’s office meeting to inform the DHSMV of your sex offender status. They will take a photograph and renew your license or identification card.  Each time you move or change your name, you must repeat this process within 48 hours of the event. This is so the Department of Safety can maintain a current address and photo of all sex offenders.

Failure to properly register as a sex offender in Florida is a third degree felony. If convicted you can be sentenced to prison for up to five years. Florida complies with the requirements of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, or SORNA, which strengthens sex offender registration laws. What this means to you is that if you fail to register as a sex offender you can also be charged in a federal court and if convicted be sent to a federal prison. An experienced Clearwater, Florida criminal defense attorney can help you determine how often you must report and what information is reportable to advise you of how best to remain in compliance. Call 727-531-2926 or by fill out our online contact form below. Let’s start preparing your defense today!