Changes to Florida Sex Offender Laws Will Become Effective Oct. 1

Changes to Florida's sex offender lawsIn March 2016, Governor Rick Scott approved House Bill 1333 (HB 1333), which makes a few fairly significant changes to the current Florida sex offender laws.

The bill, initially introduced by Representative Baxley just three months prior to its approval, amends several sections of law related to sexual predators and offenders so that it more closely conforms to the federal Adam Walsh Act.

Amongst other things, HB 1333 revises certain reporting and registration requirements, clarifies the laws for offenders under the Romeo and Juliet laws, and harshens the stipulations for offenders whose cases involved battery against elderly persons.

Below are some the primary upcoming changes to Florida’s sex offender registration laws, which will take effect October 1, 2016.

Parents must also register as sexual offenders.

Prior to HB 1333, the law excluded parents from having to register as a sex offender in cases involving their children. The bill eliminated all language in current legislation that shields parents. Once the bill takes effect, a parent or guardian may have to register as a sexual predator or offender if he or she commits one of the following offenses and the offense had a sexual component: kidnapping, false imprisonment, or luring or enticing a child.

Offenders must report more thorough information to the FDLE.

The new laws also modify the types of information that offenders must submit to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) online reporting system. Under the new rules, offenders must report changes in their transient residences, home telephone numbers, cell phone numbers, employment information, and any change in status at an institution of higher education.

They also have to register all email addresses and Internet identifiers with the department through the department’s online system or in person at the sheriff’s office before using them. The bill stipulates that offenders have only 48 hours to report the changes, and that failure to report changes as required will be a third-degree felony.

Only certain offenders under Romeo and Juliet laws are exempt from registering.

The bill clarifies that the Romeo and Juliet exception only applies to offenders when the acts were consensual. If an offender was convicted under § 943.0435, and the act was consensual, the defendant does not have to register as a sexual predator and is not subject to customary sex offender registration requirements.

Lewd and lascivious battery upon an elderly person requires permanent registration.

HB 1333 also stiffens the registration requirements for certain offenders in cases involving elderly persons. Specifically, the bill requires offenders designated as a sexual offender for convictions of lewd and lascivious battery upon an elderly person to report quarterly and for life. The new rule also prohibits such offenders from being eligible for removal from registration requirements.

What other important changes will HB 1333 bring about?

In addition to the above changes, some of the other major features of HB 1333 include the following:

  • There are changes to which court a sexual offender must petition for removal from registration requirements. Call our sex crimes defense attorney at 727-828-3900 for more info about how to petition for removal.
  • There are also clarifications regarding the appropriate entity to which a sexual offender must report.
  • The bill modifies the reporting requirements for international travel. The law states: “For international travel, the sexual predator shall also provide travel information, including, but not limited to, expected departure and return dates, flight number, airport of departure, cruise port of departure, or any other means of intended travel.”
  • There is a new requirement that sexual offenders that take online courses at Florida higher education institutions must report such information to the FDLE. The FDLE will notify the institution of the offender’s presence.

The law contains rather complicated language and structure, but you can read Florida’s sex offender registration laws in their entirety on the Senate’s website. This version of the laws, which will take effect in October, details all the changes that HB 1333 makes to the current legislation. The underlined parts are additions and the stricken words are deletions.

For more information about Florida’s sex offender laws or for legal advice for you case, contact our criminal defense attorneys at Goldman Wetzel: 727-828-3900.

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