For example, State Attorney General Bill McCollum has expressed his concerns that some of the county ordinances restricting where convicted sex offenders may live have gone too far. But for every person who raises a concern about the fairness and justness of current sex offender registration requirements, there are many more calling for the state to pass even harsher penalties. This is especially true at the local level in Florida, where counties and municipalities have been taking steps to expand the scope of their local sex offender ordinances.
Florida has some of the most restrictive sex offender registration and sentencing laws in the nation. Under state law, there are two separate designations for those convicted of crimes mandating sex offender registration: sexual predators and sexual offenders. The state reserves the sexual predator designation for the most dangerous offenders who have been convicted of a capital, life or first-degree felony sex crime or two or more second-degree felony sex crimes.
The court must issue a written finding designating a person as a sexual predator. Current law requires life-time registration for those who have been convicted of certain crimes.
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These crimes include:. If the sex offender has been released from incarceration, then he or she is required to register in-person with the local sheriff's department within 48 hours of establishing residency in the state. If the offender is still in the custody of a Florida prison or jail, then the institution will handle the registration.
Those who have been convicted of an offense mandating registration as a sex offender in another state also must register with the Florida sex offender registry upon moving to Florida. In some cases, those who keep a permanent residence in another state but work or go to school in Florida also must register as a sex offender. The information provided by the sex offender, including his or her picture, is made available to the public in an on-line database. Those who fail to register, provide incomplete or false information, or fail to meet any of the other legal requirements imposed upon them will be charged with a third-degree felony and may be sentenced to additional jail time and other penalties.
State and local law impose restrictions on where certain convicted sex offenders may live after serving their sentence. Florida state law prohibits those convicted of certain sex crimes against a child under 16 years of age from living within 1, feet of a school, day care center, playground, park or other place frequented by children. Some county and municipal ordinances impose even more restrictive residency requirements. For example, in Miami-Dade County, certain registered sex offenders are prohibited from living within 2, feet of a school, day care center, park or playground.
The county also recently added "child safety zones" to its ordinance, which prohibits sex offenders from loitering within the feet extending from schools, day cares, parks and school bus stops. The Miami-Dade ordinance has received national attention for effectively forcing sex offenders into homelessness with over 70 offenders living underneath the Julia Tuttle Causeway Bridge. Currently, there more than municipalities in Florida that impose greater residency restrictions on convicted sex offenders than required by state law.
State law also places restrictions on where certain registered sex offenders may work. In cases where the victim was a minor, sex offenders cannot volunteer or work at any business, school, day care, park, playground or other place where children regularly are present. Sex offenders are treated uniquely under state and federal law as the only offenders whose punishment does not end once they have completed their court-imposed sentence. For many, the punishments they suffer after finishing their sentences are much harsher than those they received from a judge.
Do Florida Sex Offender Registration Requirements Go Too Far?
While the state's interest in monitoring the activities and limiting the contact with children of the most dangerous offenders is understandable, the law also makes it difficult for those who do not pose a risk of reoffending to re-enter society and attempt to re-establish their lives. Florida and other states need to recognize that not everyone who has been labeled as a sex offender poses the same risk to society and treating them all the same is a grave injustice. If you or a loved one have been accused of a sex offense charge, contact an experienced sex crime defense attorney today at We offer flexible criminal defense payment plans for those who are currently fighting one or more criminal charges.
I know there are violent sexual predators that need to be punished, but this seems like punishment far beyond reasonable for what my son did. The over-breadth in scope is matched by over-breadth in duration: the length of time during which a former offender must register and be included in online registries is set arbitrarily, based on the nature of the crime of conviction and not on any assessment of the likelihood that the former offender continues to pose a safety threat.
Indeed, legislators are steadily increasing the duration of registration requirements: in 17 states, registration is now for life.
Yet former sex offenders are less and less likely to reoffend the longer they live offense-free. Unfortunately, only a few states require or permit periodic individualized assessments of the risk to the community a former offender may pose before requiring initial or continued registration and community notification. If former offenders simply had to register their whereabouts with the police, the adverse consequences for them would be minimal. Jameel N.
When people see my picture on the state sex offender registry they assume I am a pedophile. My life is in ruins, not because I had sex as a teenager, and not because I was convicted, but because of how my neighbors have reacted to the information on the internet. Former offenders included on online sex offender registries endure shattered privacy, social ostracism, diminished employment and housing opportunities, harassment, and even vigilante violence.
Their families suffer as well. Registrants and their families have been hounded from their homes, had rocks thrown through their home windows, and feces left on their front doorsteps. They have been assaulted, stabbed, and had their homes burned by neighbors or strangers who discovered their status as a previously convicted sex offender. At least four registrants have been targeted and killed two in and two in by strangers who found their names and addresses through online registries. Other registrants have been driven to suicide, including a teenager who was required to register after he had exposed himself to girls on their way to gym class.
Violence directed at registrants has injured others. The children of sex offenders have been harassed by their peers at school, and wives and girlfriends of offenders have been ostracized from social networks and at their jobs. Among laws targeting sex offenders living in the community, residency restrictions may be the harshest as well as the most arbitrary.
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The laws can banish registrants from their already established homes, keep them from living with their families, and make entire towns off-limits to them, forcing them to live in isolated rural areas. For example, former sex offenders in Miami, Florida have been living under bridges, one of the few areas not restricted for them by the residency restriction laws of that city. There is no evidence that prohibiting sex offenders from living near where children gather will protect children from sexual violence.
Indeed, the limited research to date suggests the contrary: a child molester who does offend again is as likely to victimize a child found far from his home as he is one who lives or plays nearby. A study by the Minnesota Department of Corrections found that individuals who committed another sex crime against a child made contact with their victim through a social relationship. Moreover, the laws apply to all registered sex offenders regardless of whether their prior crimes involved children.
It is hard to fathom what good comes from prohibiting a registered offender whose victim was an adult woman from living near a school bus stop. Stories of the senseless impact of residency restrictions are legion. She is registered as a sex offender because she had oral sex with a year-old when she was Some lawmakers admit to another purpose for residency restriction laws. For those who do pose a threat to public safety, they should be able to reside in communities where they can receive the supervision and treatment they need, rather than be forced to move to isolated rural areas or become homeless.
In most states, children age 18 and younger who are convicted of sex offenses can be subject to registration, community notification, and residency restrictions.
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The recently passed federal Adam Walsh Act requires states to register children as young as Some of the conduct reflects the impulsiveness and perhaps difficulty with boundaries that many teenagers experience and that most will outgrow with maturity. In some cases it seems nothing short of irrational to label children as sex offenders. Human Rights Watch spoke with a father whose year-old son was adjudicated for touching the genitals of his five-year-old cousin.
According to child development experts, many children move past the misdeeds of their youth, although some will require special support and treatment to do so. Although there is little statistical research on recidivism by youth sex offenders, the studies that have been done suggest recidivism rates are quite low.
For example, in one study only 4 percent of youth arrested for a sex crime recidivated. Research also indicates that most adult offenders were not formerly youth offenders: less than 10 percent of adults who commit sex offenses had been juvenile sex offenders. Applying registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws to juvenile offenders does nothing to prevent crimes by the 90 percent of adults who were not convicted of sex offenses as juveniles. It will, however, cause great harm to those who, while they are young, must endure the stigma of being identified as and labeled a sex offender, and who as adults will continue to bear that stigma, sometimes for the rest of their lives.
Current registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws may be counterproductive, impeding rather than promoting public safety. For example, the proliferation of people required to register even though their crimes were not serious makes it harder for law enforcement to determine which sex offenders warrant careful monitoring. Residency restrictions push former offenders away from the supervision, treatment, stability, and supportive networks they may need to build and maintain successful, law abiding lives. Many child safety and rape prevention advocates believe that millions of dollars are being misspent on registration and community notification programs that do not get at the real causes of child sexual abuse and adult sexual violence.
They would like to see more money spent on prevention, education, and awareness programs for children and adults, counseling for victims of sexual violence, and programs that facilitate treatment and the transition back to society for convicted sex offenders.
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Sexual violence and abuse against children are, unfortunately, a worldwide problem. Yet the United States is the only country in the world that has such a panoply of measures governing the lives of former sex offenders. It is the only country Human Rights Watch knows of with blanket laws prohibiting people with prior convictions for sex crimes from living within designated areas. To our knowledge, six other countries Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Japan, and the United Kingdom have sex offender registration laws, but the period required for registration is usually short and the information remains with the police.
South Korea is the only country other than the United States that has community notification laws. Officials in Australia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom have considered and in each case rejected the adoption of universal community notification laws although in some cases, police are authorized to notify the public about the presence of a convicted sex offender in the neighborhood.
How to Measure 1, Feet for the Sex Offender Residential Restriction | UNC School of Government
After reviewing the experience of the United States, they concluded that there is little evidence that community notification protects the public from sex crimes, and that such laws are often accompanied by vigilante violence against registrants. Increasingly severe registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws have encountered little public opposition.
Proponents of sex offender laws say their first priority is protecting the rights of victims. Yet few public officials who have supported registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws have done so based on a careful assessment of the nature of sex crimes and the best way to prevent sexual violence. Protecting the community and limiting unnecessary harm to former offenders are not mutually incompatible goals.
To the contrary, one enhances and reinforces the other.
Related summary of sex offender law 1000 feet school
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