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Failure to Register as Sex Offender

Florida law demands constant accountability from convicted sex offenders, even long after they’ve served their prison and probation terms.

Authorities require sex offenders to register their whereabouts at regular intervals with state and local officials. This information is all public record, readily accessible online – complete with photos and address information. It is applicable those convicted of sexually-motivated offenses both here and in other jurisdictions.

Failure to register as a sex offender in Florida is a criminal offense in and of itself. It’s generally classified as a third-degree felony, punishable by a maximum five years in prison. Under some circumstances, it may even be considered a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. That such severe penalties could be imposed for simply failing to file paperwork is arcane and ultimately hasn’t been shown to bolster public safety. Still, courts across the country have firmly upheld these laws.

At The Ansara Law Firm, our sex offender defense lawyers in Fort Lauderdale know these requirements can be a bureaucratic nightmare, effectively amounting to a sentence after a sentence. They are, in a sense, punishment for crimes one might commit in the future. Not even convicted murderers are subject to the same kind long-term scrutiny, tracking and public humiliation.

If you are arrested for failure to register as a sex offender, you cannot assume this to be something you can simply work out with local law enforcement or your probation officer. It is imperative that you contact an experienced attorney for assistance.

Who is a Sex Offender in Florida?

Authorities report there were 67,000 registered sex offenders in Florida in 2015 – nearly double the 34,000 counted in 2005.

F.S. 775.21 is known as the Florida Sexual Predators Act. It outlines the legislative intent of sex offender designation and registration, which is that repeat sexual offenders, offenders who use violence or those who target children are a danger to society, and are more likely to re-offend and use violence when they do.

Legislators say this justifies:

  • Long incarceration terms
  • Specialized, long-term supervision after release
  • Resident restrictions
  • Prohibition from working with children
  • Invasive registration requirements

There are two designations of sexual offender in Florida:

  • Sexual Offender
  • Sexual Predator

A sexual offender is someone who was convicted of (or pleaded no contest to) a sex offense involving a minor and who was released from sanction (prison, probation, fine, etc.) on or after Oct. 1, 1997. Some of the offenses involved include (but aren’t limited to) child pornography, procuring a child under 18 for prostitution purposes or sexual performance by a child under 18.

A sexual predator is someone who was convicted of a first-degree felony sex crime or two second-degree felony sex crimes within 10 years that occurred on or after Oct. 1, 1993.

What are the Requirements for a Sex Offender in Florida?

The complete list of registration requirements is found in F.S. 775.21 and F.S. 943.0435. Under the umbrella of federal law, there is the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking ( SMART). That office oversees adherence to SORNA, which is the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which outlines the minimum guidelines for sex offender registration and notification nationwide.

Under state law:

  • Sexual predators and/or juvenile sexual offenders adjudicated delinquent have to report to the local sheriff’s office in the county where he or she resides or is otherwise located four times a year, starting with his or her birth month and then every 3rd month thereafter.
  • Sexual offenders convicted as adults have to register with the sheriff’s office either two or four times a year, depending on the severity of the underlying offense.
  • A sexual offender convicted of serious crimes against children have to register four times a year.

Offenders also have to report within 48 hours every time they move to a new residence – even if it’s only temporary. After first registering with the sheriff’s office, they must again register within another 48 hours with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Those who are transient have to register every 30 days.

There is a laundry list of information offenders are required to provide, including:

  • Name
  • Birth date
  • Race
  • Height
  • Hair color
  • Eye color
  • Tattoos or other identifying marks
  • Any transient, temporary or permanent address
  • Dates of current or known future out-of-state residences
  • Make, model, color and license of all vehicles owned or driven
  • All phone numbers
  • All electronic email addresses and “internet identifiers”
  • Information about any professional licenses he or she holds
  • Information about any school he or she attends
  • Employment information
  • Volunteer information
  • Driver’s license information
  • Photograph
  • Fingerprint
  • Genetic material
  • “Any other information deemed necessary by the department”

Given the severity of the penalties that may be imposed as a result of failure to comply with these requirements, offenders accused of failing to register must consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Contact the experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (954) 761-4011.

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