Being forced to register as a sex offender can make almost everything in your life more difficult. It can impact where you can live, who will rent or sell to you, whether you can get a loan and your chances of securing a job. The restrictions placed on those who have to register vary by county and municipality and essentially enhance the term of punishment handed down after a conviction. A mistake can lead to lifelong punishment that isn’t necessarily in line with the initial act. Want to learn how to get off the sex offender registry? Here’s what you need to know about getting off the list in Florida.
What is the Sex Offender Registry?
The Florida Sex Offender Registry is a publicly searchable database that provides information about individuals who have been convicted of certain sexual offenses.
In accordance with Florida Statute 943.0435, individuals who have been convicted of one of the following crimes—whether in Florida or in another state—must register as a sex offender within 48 hours of completing their sentence or moving into the state:
- Child molestation
- Child prostitution
- Child pornography
- False imprisonment
- Lewd and lascivious offenses (public exposure, nudity, and other offenses)
- Sexual battery (this includes spousal rape, date rape, and statutory rape)
- Sexual performances by a child
- The selling or buying of minors
- Unlawful sexual activity with minors
Those convicted of sexual crimes must provide up-to-date information regularly. If they get a new car or move, they have to report it as soon as possible. The information in the registry includes:
- Name (including aliases)
- Date of birth
- Social security number
- Height and weight
- Hair and eye color
- Tattoos or other identifying marks
- Fingerprints and palm prints
- Occupation and place of employment
- Residential address
- Vehicle information (Make, model, license plate number)
- All telephone numbers
- All email addresses, social media handles, and messaging account username
- Conviction information
- Passport information
- Immigration status/documentation
- Professional license information
This is a searchable database, which means that anyone from the public can go in and get details about you. They can even set up notifications to be alerted if you move. It can feel like an invasion of privacy and a threat to your security.
This database has made returning to “normal life” practically impossible for individuals who have served their time following a sex crime conviction. Fewer work opportunities, limited housing, and over vigilant neighbors have even created a situation in Miami-Dade County where dozens of convicted sex offenders are homeless and living under a bridge.
How Long Do I Have to Register?
Registering as a sex offender is a lifelong commitment that is part of the sentence for most sex crimes—even if the conviction occurred when the defendant was a juvenile.
If you’ve been convicted of one of the crimes listed above, then you have 48 hours from your release to register as a sex offender. You will be expected to check-in and update your registry either 4 times a year or twice a year (depending on the seriousness of your conviction). Plus, if you make any changes, like moving, you will have 48 hours to update that information on your driver’s license and on the registry.
Failing to register within the time limit can lead to felony charges and imprisonment.
How to Get Off the Sex Offender Registry in Florida
Not everyone can apply to get off the sex offender registry. Because the sex offender registry is for life, only those who have been on the registry for 25 years and who have not been convicted of additional offenses may apply to have their names removed.
In addition, individuals who were initially convicted of the following offenses cannot be removed from the registry:
- False imprisonment
- Lewd and lascivious battery where the victim is under the age of 12
- Lewd and lascivious molestation where the victim is under the age of 12
- Lewd and lascivious battery on an elderly or disabled person
- Sexual battery (rape)
Eligible individuals will need to petition the criminal division of the circuit court where they were initially convicted. Individuals whose initial conviction occurred out of state will need to petition the criminal division of the circuit court in their new jurisdiction. Because there is no clear process for doing this, having a Tampa attorney help you is key.
Alternatively, if there is new evidence in your case, you may be able to have your conviction appealed. For example, if you were convicted in a case with child hearsay and the child later changed their story, you may be able to appeal your conviction in light of the new evidence. For individuals who were charged with offenses that are not allowed to petition for removal from the sex offender registry, this may be the only way to get yourself removed from the registry.
If you are pardoned or if your conviction is overturned in some other manner, you can also petition to be removed from the registry.
Once your petition is approved, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will scrub your name from the registry, allowing you to return to near anonymity.
Want Off the List? Get Help
Florida has some of the nation’s strictest sex crime laws. While movements to amend those laws are gaining steam, it’s important that you continue to register as a sex offender to avoid additional criminal charges. While activists work to change or abolish current sex registry laws, you can still apply to be removed from the list as long as you meet the above requirements. Don’t just stop registering! Make sure you follow the current rules so that you aren’t further penalized.
Want help? To improve your chances of getting removed from the sex offender registry, get a knowledgeable Tampa defense attorney on your side.
Alternatively, if you’ve only recently been charged with a sex offense or believe you are being investigated on a sex charge, seek a Tampa sex crimes lawyer immediately to protect your rights and your future.