As criminal defense attorneys in Clearwater Florida, we have been asked questions about sex offender laws in Florida. Like many other states, Florida requires that person who have been convicted of molesting and abusing children must register with local authorities in an effort to keep our communities safe. In fact, Florida has some of the toughest sex offender laws in United States. For example, sex offenders must register for life and Florida makes all sex offender information public regardless of the severity of the crime.
In this article, we explain what you need to know Florida’s sex offenders laws including the different levels of sex offenders, registration as a sex offender in Florida, where a sex offender may or may not go in Florida, where a sex offender may or may not live in Florida, whether a registered sex offender may travel, the penalties for not registering as a sex offender in Florida, Florida sex offender registry removal, and much more.
Who is Considered a Sex Offender Under Florida Law?
Generally speaking, a sex offender is someone who has been convicted of a sex crimes act where state or federal laws require them to be placed on the Sexual Offender Registry. Florida’s laws are very broad in defining who is considered a sex offender. Sex offenders include people who have been convicted of various crimes such as:
- Sexual Misconduct
- Kidnapping of a Minor
- False Imprisonment of a Minor
- Luring or Enticing a Child
- Human Trafficking
- Unlawful Sexual Activity with Certain Minors
- Lewd or Lascivious Offense with a Minor
- Video Voyeurism of a Minor
- Child Pornography
Additionally, Florida recognizes similar convictions for sex crimes in other states.
In Florida, What is the Difference Between a Sex Offender and a Sexual Predator?
Sex offenders and sex predators are both required to register with the state of Florida. Sexual predators are defined differently in the state of Florida and are considered to be the more serious of the two. Someone will be classified as a sexual predator if he or she has been convicted of at least one first degree felony sexual misconduct charge or two second degree sexual misconduct charges. Sexual predators have stricter registration requirements.
Florida Sex Offender Registration
If you have been designated a sex offender, you will have to register with the local authorities in Florida several times a year. Additionally, sex offenders must:
- Keep the local police informed of their presence in Florida’s counties;
- Inform police of travel plans through other counties in Florida; and
- Update their personal information every year including occupation and place of employment, residential information, vehicle information, and all phone numbers and email addresses.
Registered sex offenders living in Florida must report it if they plan to move or to travel out of state. Moreover, there are numerous registration requirements under the law that are set forth in Florida Statute 943.0435.
How Long Do You Have to be Registered as a Sex Offender in Florida?
If you plead to a sex offense that requires sex offender registration in Florida, you must register for the rest of your life.
What Happens if You Fail to Register as a Sex Offender in Florida?
In Florida, failure to register as a sex offender is a 3rd degree felony punishable as follows:
- For a first offense, a mandatory minimum term of 6 months with electronic monitoring.
- For a second offense, a mandatory minimum term of 1 year with electronic monitoring.
- For a third or subsequent offense, a mandatory minimum term of 2 years with electronic monitoring.
Where Can Sex Offenders Live in Florida?
In Florida, a sex offender can’t live within 1000 feet from a school, a daycare, a playground, or a park where children play. There are some local ordinances that may have stricter geographical requirements. Sex offenders should check with their registration agency before planning a move.
Can a Sex Offender Go to Disney?
No. Disney does not allow registered sex offenders to be guests at Disney’s parks. Additionally, if you are on sex offender probation, a condition of the probation will be no contact with children and no working with children.
Do Sex Offenders Who Visit Florida Have to Register?
If an out-of-state sex offender vacations, visits, goes to school, or works in Florida for a period of 3 or more days during any calendar year, then the offender must:
- Report in person to the sheriff’s office within 48 hours of visiting Florida; and
- Within 48 hours from registration with the sheriff’s office, report in person to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) with a copy of the completed sexual offender/predator registration form to obtain a valid Florida identification card or driver’s license.
Can a Florida Sex Offender Move to Another State?
Perhaps. If you plan to move to another state, you must meet specific requirements in order to do so. Additionally, be aware that the reporting requirements are more stringent for sexual predator registration. Speak to your local reporting agency for detailed instructions on this process. You will also need to make sure the state you are moving to will accept supervision and you will also need to meet all of their requirements for the transition. If you are on probation in addition to registration, you must get permission from the probation officer and possibly the judge who ordered your probation.
Florida Sex Offender Registry Removal
If you’re a registered sex offender in Florida, you may have questions about how to be removed from Florida’s registry. Obviously, if you’re a registered sex offender, your freedom and employment opportunities are limited. There are very few options for removal from Florida’s sex offender registry which are as follows:
- Full Pardon
- Post-Conviction Relief – a procedure for requesting that a conviction or sentence be corrected or vacated.
- Moved to Florida with a sex offender designation from another state, and that designation was removed
- After 25 years, you may petition the court for removal but with very strict limitations
- You meet the requirements under Florida’s “Romeo and Juliet” law (applies to certain offenses involving persons who were no more than 4 years older when he or she engaged in a consensual sexual relationship with another individual aged 13 to 17)
Additionally, under Florida law, only a few offenses qualify for removal from the registry which are:
- Lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of persons less than 16 years of age;
- Sexual performance by a child; and
- A lewd or lascivious exhibition using a computer online.
How Can I Look Up Registered Sex Offenders in Florida?
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement maintains a website – The Sex Offenders and Predators Search. You can also sign up to receive e-mail alerts when a registered sexual offender or predator moves into your neighborhood.
Criminal Defense Attorneys in Clearwater Florida
If you have questions about Florida’s sex offender laws or you need legal help concerning any of the issues we explained in this article, please contact our office for a free consultation.