Sexual Offender Laws in Florida

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Background on Florida's Sexual Offender Laws

“Jessie” Lunsford, a small-town 9-year-old, wanted to be a fashion designer and Olympic swimmer when she grew up. Unfortunately, those childlike dreams were brutally cut short, when in 2005 she was abducted from her home, raped, and buried alive by a registered sex offender.

In response to her tragedy, and in addition to the murder of 13-year-old Sarah Lunde by another registered sex offender, Florida enacted laws that would informally become known as “Jessica’s Law” to increase criminal and civil penalties for sexual offenses. 

What Do Florida’s Sexual Offender Laws Do?

“Jessica’s Law” sets a minimum 25-year prison sentence for individuals convicted of sexual crime involving a child under 12. It also requires GPS tracking after the convicted have been released.

Also, Florida law provides that being a sexual predator is an “aggravating” factor for a murder charge. This affects the potential imposition of the death penalty, making it easier for the prosecution to argue in its favor.

Can Someone Convicted of the Rape of a Child Be Sentenced to Death?

Although Florida statutes allow for a death sentence in the event of a child rape, a 1991 Florida Supreme Court decision prohibited the use of the death penalty in a child rape case where there has been no murder. Additionally, in 2008, the United States Supreme Court banned the imposition of the death penalty for child rape.

Registration as a Sex Offender

Like other states, sex offenders in Florida are required to register with the local authorities, and their information will be made public pursuant to the national 1994 Megan’s Law. Sex offenders must:

Furthermore, registered sex offenders must at least live a half-a-mile from any place where children congregate. As a result, sex offenders have been evicted from their apartment if it has a pool. Due to the potential difficulty of finding a place to stay, many may wind up living under bridges. Regardless, they need to keep their probation officer informed as to their whereabouts to facilitate meetings.

Registration in Florida is for life, although sex offenders may petition for removal after 20 years provided they have committed no misdemeanor or felony offenses. 

Should I Consult a Lawyer?

Sexual offenses are very serious, particularly those where a child is involved. If you believe you may be facing charges for a sexual crime, you should consult a local attorney immediately.

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Last Modified: 04-10-2014 02:32 PM PDT

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