Florida Sexual Offender Registration Requirement Analyzed by Court

When a person is required to register as a sexual offender it can impact his or her life long after the sentence for any crime is served. Florida strictly construes the sexual offender registration requirements, and a person may be required to register as a sexual offender even if he or she was not initially notified of the requirement. Recently, the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District, discussed the parameters for the requirement, in a case in which it overturned the trial court’s order obviating the defendant’s obligation to register as a sexual offender following a kidnapping conviction. If you are a resident of  Clearwater and are charged with a sex crime, it is prudent to consult a diligent Clearwater sex crime attorney to discuss your rights.

The Defendant’s Arrest and Conviction

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and convicted of multiple crimes arising out of a kidnapping in 1994. He was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison, which was followed by five years of probation. He was sentenced to additional imprisonment due to probation violations and was not released from supervision until 2006.

It is alleged that the Florida legislature enacted a law three years after the defendant’s conviction, that required sex offenders to register with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). A sexual offender designation is based on criteria set forth under the law, and kidnapping is one of the enumerated offenses that require a person to register as a sexual offender.

Reportedly, the defendant was never notified of his requirement to register as a sexual offender, however, until 2018. He subsequently filed a motion to delete the statutory requirement that he registers as a sexual offender, arguing the doctrine of laches should prohibit the court from enforcing the requirement twelve years after the defendant was released from supervision. The court granted the motion, and the State appealed.

Sexual Offender Designation Under Florida Law

Upon review, the appellate court found that the trial court improperly granted the defendant’s motion. Specifically, the appellate court stated that the requirement that sexual offenders register with the FDLE was clearly mandated by the law, and therefore, the trial court was not permitted to deviate from the terms of the statute absent express authority.

Rather, the trial court was required to apply the law as it was written, regardless of whether it deemed equitable relief appropriate. The court further explained that a trial court may not carve out exceptions to a clear and authoritative statute, as doing so would violate the powers granted to the legislature. As such, the appellate court quashed the trial court’s order.

Consult a Capable Criminal Defense Attorney

A designation as a sexual offender can permanently harm a person’s reputation and rights. If you live in Clearwater and are faced with charges of a sex crime or any other crime that may require you to register as a sexual offender, it is in your best interest to consult a capable Clearwater sex crime defense attorney to discuss your options for seeking a favorable outcome.  Attorney William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a skillful criminal defense attorney who will zealously advocate on your behalf. You can reach Mr. Hanlon at 727-897-5413 or via the online form to set up a free and confidential meeting to discuss your charges.

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