Carrying the label of “sex offender” or “sexual predator” is a heavy burden to bear. It will change every part of your life. That is why it is so important to fully understand Florida’s sex offender registration requirements. If you don’t register, you could face felony charges and up to five years in prison!
What Are Florida’s Sex Offender Registration Requirements?
Convicted sex offenders are held to unwavering standards when it comes to continued registration, long after they’ve served their sentences. Sex offender registration lasts for life, affecting residency, job opportunities, professional licenses, and one’s reputation.
According to Florida Statutes 943.0435, sexual offenders and sexual predators must:
- Report to and register in person at their local sheriff’s office within 48 hours of:
- Being released from prison; and/or
- Establishing any sort of temporary or permanent residence in Florida.
- Report to and register in person at their local sheriff’s office:
- Two times a year (for sexual offenders);
- Four times a year (for sexual predators and juvenile sex offenders); and
- Every 30 days (for offenders or predators with temporary residences).
- Register in person at their local Driver License Center of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles within 48 hours of their initial registration, and re-register if they get a new vehicle, renew their license, or get a new driver’s license.
- Report any relevant changes since their last registration, including employment status, contact information, name, phone number, e-mail address, residence, etc.
There are no exceptions or adjustments to these requirements unless the offender was unable to register because the location or center was closed for the weekend, on a holiday, or because of a natural disaster.
What Do You Have to Do to Register as a Sex Offender?
Registering in person is quite a process. An offender will need to provide their name, birthdate, social security number, gender, race, weight, height, eye color, hair color, tattoos or other identifying marks, palm prints, fingerprints, photo, employment information, address, vehicle identification number, license plate, make and model of their car, and contact information. The offender will also need to provide a description of the crime or crimes, plus the date and location of the conviction or convictions. If the offender is attending a school of any kind, they must provide detailed information on that school.
Once you’re registered as a sex offender, your information can be found online. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Sexual Offender and Predators Search tool allows searches by name, location, and more. You can even search by university and campus to see if any registered offenders are working or volunteering at a specific location. These are public records and can be viewed by anyone.
What Are the Penalties for Failing to Register?
In Florida, a person who fails to register as a sexual offender or sexual predator may face up to 5 years in prison, 5 years of probation, and a $5,000 fine. These are severe penalties, and prosecutors will make every effort to see them enforced. Additionally, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 21 months in prison that judges are required to implement—unless there are specific mitigating factors that would warrant a lesser sentence.
Challenging Charges of Failing to Register as a Sex Offender
Just because you’ve been accused of failing to register or another sex offender violation in Florida, this does not mean that you can or should be convicted. You have the right to an attorney. You have the right to challenge these allegations, and a skilled legal professional can build a defense that asserts your innocence, exposes violations of your constitutional rights, and more. If you’re taken into custody because you didn’t register, involve an attorney as soon as possible.
Choose a Skilled Tampa Sex Crime Attorney
Failing to register as a sex offender in Florida is a third-degree felony and is severely punished. Instead of losing hope, contact a Tampa sex crime lawyer at Thomas & Paulk. We are experienced criminal defense attorneys who have helped thousands of clients across Florida in the face of serious charges, including sex offender registration violations. Call (813) 321-7323 to get started!