Sex Offender Laws in Florida
Florida has very strict sex offense and sex offender laws. In addition to a possible prison sentence, a sex offense conviction will impact how someone convicted of a sex offense may go about their lives long after they have served time.
For these reasons, it is important for anyone accused of a sex offense to vigorously defend against the charges and utilize all available defenses to sex-related crimes. It is also important for anyone convicted to carefully ensure they are following Florida law applicable to convicted sex offenders to avoid getting into further trouble.
Today, we're answering some of the most frequently asked questions about sex offender laws in Florida.
FAQs About Florida Sex Offender Laws
Who is Considered a Sex Offender under Florida law?
In Florida law, a sexual offender (commonly called a “sex offender”) is someone who has been charged and convicted with one of the sex-related crimes listed in Florida's Criminal Law Statutes.
The sex offender classification is very broad (some have argued too broad) and includes a wide array of crimes including the commission or attempted commission of:
- Sexual misconduct
- Sexual battery
- Unlawful sexual activity with a minor
- Human trafficking
- Video voyeurism of a minor
- Lewd or lascivious behavior in the presence of a minor
What is the difference between a sex offender and a sexual predator in Florida?
Florida law classifies sex offenders into levels based on severity of the crimes committed and the likelihood that the person convicted is likely to re-offend. The third level is the most severe and individuals that fall into that class are classified as “sexual predators.” Sexual predators have more stringent requirements to follow.
How Long Do You Have To Be Registered as a Sex Offender in Florida, and What Happens if You Fail to Register?
In Florida, sex offenders are registered for life. Failure to register is a third-degree felony. The offense carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence which ranges from six months to two years depending on how many times the offender has failed to register.
Do sex offenders from another state have to register if they visit Florida?
Usually, yes, but the process is different from the permanent resident registration. If a convicted sex offender from another state is in Florida for more than three days in a calendar year, they must report in-person to the local sheriff's office and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).
Can you be removed from Florida's sex offender registry?
In very limited circumstances, it is possible to get removed from Florida's sex offender registry. Whether removal from the sex offender registry is possible will depend on the type of sex offense, the amount of time that has passed, and whether there were any legal proceedings to remove or vacate the sex offense judgment. Due to the complexities, it is best to consult with a Florida criminal law attorney if you are wondering if you are eligible for removal.
How can you search Florida's sex offender registry?
Anyone can search Florida's sex offender registry by name, nearby address, or other criteria on the (Florida Departmen of Law Enforcement) FDLE website.
Where can sex offenders live and work in Florida?
There are strict prohibitions on where convicted sex offenders can live and work in Florida. Most notably, sex offenders are generally prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of a daycare, playground, or park where children play. These living restrictions do not apply to convicted sex offenders that have been released and committed the subject crime before October 1, 2004. In addition to these state-level restrictions, there may be even stricter local ordinances that further narrow the locations where sex offenders can live or work. There may also be restrictions set out as part of the sex offender's parole.
Sex offenders are prohibited from working in any business where children are regularly present. Additionally, even if a sex offender is permitted to work at a location, many businesses do not want to hire sex offenders which can make obtaining a job very difficult.
Can a Florida sex offender move to another state?
Yes, sex offenders that are off of probation can generally move out of Florida to another state. However, there are strict requirements that must be followed which vary based on individual circumstances, such as the crime the offender was convicted of, as well as where they are moving to. For this reason, it is advisable for sex offenders to consult with an attorney before beginning the moving process.
Can a sex offender go to Disney World in Florida?
Sex offenders are not allowed to go to Disney World in Florida. It is unclear from Disney's publicly available policies whether the Disney corporation itself allows sexual offenders to enter its parks. However, Florida law prohibits convicted sex offenders from loitering near where children are congregating. Disney World is well-known to be a place where children congregate. Thus, convicted sex offenders may not go to Disney World.
Attorney John Rutkowski is a former deputy and prosecutor who now defends clients against criminal charges throughout Florida, including Punta Gorda, Venice, Cape Coral, Ft. Meyers, and the surrounding areas. Contact Mr. Rutkowski at (941) 888-0709 or here for a free telephone consultation.