Sex Crime Law in Florida
“Jessie” Lunsford, a small-town 9-year-old, loved to clean the bathroom from top to bottom – window sills, floor, and tub. She kept her clothes “professionally” folded, and wanted to be a fashion designer and Olympic swimmer. Unfortunately, those childlike dreams were brutally smothered out when, in 2005, she was abducted from her home, repeatedly raped, and buried alive by a registered sex offender.
In response to this and the murder of 13-year-old Sarah Lunde by another registered sex offender, Florida enacted the Jessica Lunsford Act to increase penalties. The Act sets a 25 year minimum prison sentence, and requires GPS tracking for sex offenders convicted of a crime involving a child under 12.
Also, this Florida Act provides that being a sexual predator is an “aggravating” factor for a murder charge, which makes application of the death penalty easier. While Florida has 36,078 sex offenders, it only has 6,293 sexual predators, who have committed more violent, heinous crimes. Although Florida has a child rape death penalty statute, a 1991 Florida Supreme Court decision prohibited the death penalty in the case of a child rape with no murder. (In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court banned the death penalty for child rapes.)
Registration as a Sex Offender
Like other states, sex offenders in Florida are required to register, and their information will be made public pursuant to the national 1994 Megan’s Law. Sex offenders must keep the local police informed of their presence in and travel plans through other counties, and must update a long list of personal information every year. Registration in Florida is for life, although sex offenders may petition for removal after 20 years, provided they have committed no misdemeanors or felonies.
Registered sex offenders must live farther than a half-a-mile from any place where children congregate. As a result of this, sex offenders have been evicted from their apartment if it has a pool. As Miami’s most unwelcome residents, many have started living under bridges in the warm Florida climate, where a probation officer visits every morning because they are not allowed to be transient.
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Last Modified: 03-28-2012 03:22 PM PDT
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