Many criminal offenses involve collateral consequences, which are essentially side effects of a conviction that may not be stated in court, but to which you are nonetheless bound. As such, these consequences can impact you in various ways as you move throughout your life. However, among all types of criminal offenses, sexually motivated offenses entail some of the most demanding collateral consequences.
Sex offender probation is, in our opinion, the most difficult and arduous form of controller supervision. Therefore, this article provides an overview of the collateral consequences that follow a conviction for a sexually motivated offense, details the main requirements of sex offender probation, and sheds light on the lifelong obligations of registered sex offenders. Although this article provides a general overview of the consequences of a sexually motivated offense, it is by no means a substitute for individualized counsel from an experienced sex crime attorney.
One of the main concerns when dealing with a sexually motivated offense is sex offender probation. If you are placed under supervision as part of your sentence for any of the following offenses, the court must impose special sex offender probation conditions:
The additional sex offender probation rules that will be imposed for the above offenses are as follows:
The court may designate another 8-hour period if the offender’s employment precludes the above specified time, and the alternative is recommended by the Department of Corrections. If the court determines that imposing a curfew would endanger the victim, the court may consider alternative sanctions.
Active participation in and successful completion of a sex offender treatment program with qualified practitioners specifically trained to treat sex offenders, at the probationer or community controlee’s own expense is required. If a qualified practitioner is not available within a 50-mile radius of the probationer or community controlee’s residence, the offender shall participate in other appropriate therapy.
There will be a prohibition on any contact with the victim, directly or indirectly, including through a third person, unless approved by the victim, a qualified practitioner in the sexual offender treatment program, and the sentencing court.
If the victim was under the age of 18, there shall be a prohibition on living within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare center, park, playground or other place where children regularly congregate, as prescribed by the court. The 1,000-foot distance shall be measured in a straight line from the offender’s place of residence to the nearest boundary line of the prohibited place, and not by a pedestrian or automobile route.
If the victim was under the age of 18, there will be a prohibition on contact with a child under the age of 18 except as provided in this paragraph. The court may approve supervised contact with a child under the age of 18 if the approval is based upon a recommendation for contact issued by a qualified practitioner who is basing the recommendation on a risk assessment. Further, the sex offender must be currently enrolled in or have successfully completed a sex offender therapy program. The court may deny supervised contact with a child at any time and is to make the assessment based upon the criteria listed in the statute.
If the victim was under the age of 18, there shall be a prohibition on working for pay or as a volunteer at any place where children regularly congregate, including, but not limited to:
The court may also designate additional locations to protect a victim.
Unless otherwise indicated in the treatment plan provided by a qualified practitioner in the sexual offender treatment program, there will be a prohibition on viewing, accessing, owning, and possessing any obscene, pornographic, or sexually stimulating visual or auditory material, including telephone, electronic media, computer programs, or computer services that are relevant to the offender’s deviant behavior pattern.
There shall be prohibition on accessing the internet or other computer services until a qualified practitioner in the offender’s sex offender treatment program, after a risk assessment is completed, approves and implements a safety plan for the offender’s accessing or using the internet or other computer services.
There is a requirement that the probationer or community controlee must submit a specimen of blood or other approved biological specimen to the Department of Law Enforcement to be registered with the DNA data bank.
There will be a requirement that the probationer or community controlee make restitution to the victim, as ordered by the court under the governing statute, for all necessary medical and related professional services relating to physical, psychiatric, and psychological care.
Submission to a warrantless search by the community control or probation officer of the probationer or community controlee’s person, residence, or vehicle is required..
As part of a treatment program, participation in annual or more frequent polygraph examinations to obtain information necessary for risk management and treatment, and to reduce the sex offender’s denial mechanisms is required. A polygraph examination must be conducted by a polygrapher who is a member of a national or state polygraph association and who is certified as a postconviction sex offender polygrapher, where available. The polygraph examination shall be paid for by the probationer or community controlee. The results of the polygraph shall be provided to the probationer’s or community controlee’s probation officer and qualified practitioner, and shall not be used as evidence in court to prove that a violation of community supervision has occurred.
Maintenance of a driving log is required. There will be a prohibition against driving a motor vehicle alone without the prior approval of the supervising officer.
There shall be a prohibition against obtaining or using a post office box without the prior approval of the supervising officer.
If there was sexual contact, a submission to, at the probationer or community controlee’s expense, an HIV test is required. The results of the HIV test will be released to the victim or the victim’s parent or guardian.
When deemed necessary by the community control or probation officer and his or her supervisor, and ordered by the court at the recommendation of the Department of Corrections, there will be electronic monitoring.
There will be a prohibition on visiting schools, child care facilities, parks, and playgrounds without prior approval from the offender’s supervising officer. The court may also designate additional locations to protect a victim.
There shall be a prohibition on any and all of the following, without prior approval from the court:
The court must impose these conditions in addition to any conditions that would be imposed regularly as a part of probation. Additionally, some of these conditions only apply if there was an actual child victim – whether your crime had a child victim is a matter of fact and law that should be resolved at sentencing. If there is no child victim - for example, if there was a police officer acting as a child for a sting - then some of these conditions do not apply. Many of the child victim conditions impact where you can live, so it is critical the Court make a written finding there was no child victim.
The other main consequence of a sexually motivated offense is the requirement of registering as a sex offender. Being a registered sex offender imposes long term affirmative obligations on you, in addition to the conditions that may be required from being a convicted felon. These obligations continue even once you are done with probation, therefore you should consider the designation of sex offender to be a lifetime designation. Although theoretically possible, it is extremely difficult to be removed from the sex offender registry.
A registered sex offender must adhere to the following rules:
Within 48 hours of being released from custody, or within 48 hours of being convicted if not in custody, you must report in person at the Sheriff’s Office either in the county in which you reside or the county in which you were convicted.
At the Sheriff’s Office, you must provide a plethora of identifying information about yourself, ranging from your social security number, to identifying marks such as tattoos, to the VIN number of all vehicles you own. Any change in this information must also be promptly reported.
Within 48 hours of fulfilling these reporting obligations, you must then also go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to receive a new driver's license indicating your status as a sex offender.
You must report to the Sheriff’s Office each year on the month of your birthday and during the sixth months following your birthday to reregister.
Even leaving the State of Florida cannot be done without notifying the Sheriff’s Department in advance.
Failure to comply with all the requirements of the sex offender registration statute is punishable as a third-degree felony. If you are designated as a sexual predator, even more stringent reporting requirements apply. For example, you will be required to reregister every third month after your birthday rather than only the sixth month after.
Additionally, if the judge does not sentence you to prison for violating the requirements of sex offender registration, the court is now required to impose a mandatory minimum term of community control with electronic monitoring.
In addition to the requirements of sex offender probation and sex offender registration, there are other consequences of pleading guilty to a sexually motivated crime of which you should be aware.
For instance, before even reaching the stage of probation, a sentence of incarceration imposed for a sexually motivated offense is not subject to gain-time. The granting of gain-time is a procedure by which the Department of Corrections gives an inmate additional days of credit towards an earlier release date. The award of gain time is outside the control of the trial court and we cannot make your representations about how much gain time, if any, you will receive.
By statute, you must serve at leave eighty five percent (85%) of your sentence, even if you have accumulated additional gain time. However, if you are sentenced to serve a jail or prison sentence for certain enumerated sexually motivated offenses listed below, you WILL NOT BE eligible for reduction through gain-time. You still receive credit for any time served, however. The following offenses are sexually motivated offenses for which you are not eligible to receive gain-time:
Furthermore, if you are required to register as a sex offender, your offense is considered a sexually violent offense, and you have received any sentence of incarceration, a state attorney may seek to have you civilly committed under what is commonly referred to as the Jimmy Ryce Act. If you are already a sexually violent offender, and you are arrested and sentenced to a term of incarceration for any offense, the state attorney must refer you for civil commitment proceedings.
Lastly, this is all concerning state laws of Florida. Local governments can impose even more stringent restrictions regarding where you may reside. Some cities have changed their laws so sex offenders cannot live within 2,500 feet of almost any location, essentially making some less fortunate individuals homeless. Thus, although the general consequences and requirements of Florida sex offender laws are outlined above, it would be prudent to inquire about any specific local municipal ordinances for any city/town where you may wish to reside. If not, there may be legal challenges, and while you may be able to argue that you are "grand-fathered" in, it is still something you will need to investigate.
Please note that Florida laws do change. However, our experience is that they generally change for the worse when viewed from the perspective of someone trying to survive as a registered sex offender. Therefore, it is entirely possible that new and more restrictive laws will be passed in the future. We cannot predict the future, but urge you to keep yourself current on changes in Florida sex offender laws that will impact you, such as sex offender registration requirements and restrictions on where you can live.
While this article seeks to provide an overview of the requirements for sex offenders in Florida and the collateral consequences they will face from a conviction, it is by no means a substitute for individualized advice from an experienced attorney. If you or a loved one have been accused of a sexually motivated crime, please don’t hesitate to contact our firm so one of our experienced sex crime lawyers may assist you in obtaining the most favorable outcome possible for your case. Call our office 24/7 at 386.222.6677 to schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable sex crime attorney today.