When a person learns that they are either under investigation or wanted in connection with a sex crime, it’s understandable how they might feel panicked. Indeed, Florida’s longstanding commitment to being “tough on crime” means those convicted of sex crimes can expect to face steep fines and, more significantly, lengthy prison sentences.
As alarming as this reality is, those who find themselves in these situations must understand that there are other collateral consequences associated with a sex crime conviction. For instance, these men and women will find themselves forced to deal with a societal stigma that makes once easy everyday tasks incredibly difficult and subject to onerous registration requirements.
The purpose in discussing this information is not to make already anxious people that much more apprehensive about the future, but rather to further impress upon them the gravity of their situation and how in these scenarios knowledge is power.
Indeed, the more a person knows about how state law works, the more confident they can feel about proving their innocence and, as we’ll start exploring, the road ahead in the event of a conviction.
Sexual offender v. sexual predator
At the outset, it’s important for people to understand that state law recognizes two classes of people convicted of sex crimes: sexual offenders and sexual predators.
In general, a sexual offender is anyone who meets one or more the following conditions:
- Has been convicted of a qualifying sexual offense in Florida or another jurisdiction; Qualifying sexual offenses include everything from human trafficking and sexual battery to unlawful sexual battery with minors and other forms of prohibited sexual misconduct.
- Has been released from incarceration, and/or is currently serving probation or parole for a qualifying sexual offense committed on or after October 1, 1997.
- Has established or maintained a transient, temporary or permanent residence in Florida, and has a registration requirement here or in another jurisdiction.
- Has been adjudicated delinquent on or after July 1, 2007 for one of several delineated sex crimes and was at least 14-years-old when the offense was perpetrated.
In general, a sexual predator is anyone who meets one or more the following conditions:
- Has been convicted of a sexually violent offense in Florida and is the subject of a written court order designating them as such.
- Has been civilly committed via the Jimmy Ryce Sexually Violent Predator Act and is the subject of a written court order designating them as such.
We’ll explain why this distinction matters as far as registration requirements are concerned in future posts. In the meantime, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible if you are either under investigation or have been charged with any sort of sex crime.