In Florida, sex crimes are taken very seriously by the courts, especially violent crimes. However, a guilty verdict does not automatically mean that a person will need to spend time in jail to serve out their sentence. For some, the prosecutor may offer the alternative sentence of probation.
It is essential to understand how probation works and what rules are in place, as they are especially strict for sex offenders. If you have been accused of a sexual violation: take the time to learn more about probation, whether it’s the right option for you, and how an attorney can help.
What Is Sex Offender Probation?
A sex crimes attorney may secure a probationary sentence rather than prison time for their client. This means that a defendant will live at home to complete their sentence. However, they will need to be supervised by a probation officer who will ensure they are not violating the conditions of their sentence.
This form of sentencing is similar to parole, which you may have heard of. However, parole is a condition of early release from prison, whereas probation is put in place of any jail time. It still features restrictions that greatly reduce freedom and quality of life as punishment for offenses.
What Are the Laws for Sex Offender Probation?
Per Florida Law, the following restrictions are typical of a sex offender probation ruling. These rules may change depending on the details surrounding your case. When put on probation, you will be assigned a probation officer who will enforce these rules and keep close watch to make sure you are obeying them.
- Reporting to Your Officer. Failure to appear when scheduled will be directly reported and punished.
- Enrolled on the Sex Offender Registry. This will mean that you need to report your enrollment status whenever required and may bar you from living at addresses within 1,000 feet of a place where children congregate or work in jobs involving children.
- Curfew. The defendant will need to be at home from 10 pm to 6 am or another 8-hour period deemed by the officer.
- Outpatient Treatment Program. Defendants must participate in a sex offender treatment program and successfully complete it (deemed by a therapist) within four years of sentencing. The defendant must also undergo a mental health assessment at their own expense.
- No Contact with the Victim or Any Children. There may be exceptions, but the court must deem them so. Do not assume that the court will be understanding after you have violated this rule. You must get permission first.
- No Pornography.
- No Internet Access. Exceptions to this rule are available but must be court-approved.
- Submit to Providing a DNA Sample and Undergoing HIV Testing. The defendant’s DNA will be logged by law enforcement, and the victim will be informed of the defendant’s HIV status.
- Searches without a Warrant. Officers may search a defendant’s property without a warrant.
- Submit to Polygraph Exams, Random Drug Testing, and Electronic Monitoring.
- Restrictions on Driving and Travel. A defendant’s probation officer must approve these.
- No P.O. Box.
- Pay the Costs, Fines, and Expenses of the Court.
Any violation of these could result in a lengthy prison sentence that may then be followed by further restrictions even outside of prison.
What They Mean for You
For many, an offer to go on probation rather than spend time in prison may seem like a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t want to avoid prison time?
However, serious considerations must be made before accepting any deal from a prosecutor. Not following the rules will result in prison time, making the deal useless. And, considering one-third of those on probation or parole fail to complete their programs without violations, you must be honest with yourself to avoid joining this statistic.
So take a good look at the rules. If you are unsure you will be able to lead a life outside of prison without any violation, you may end up serving the remainder of your sentence in prison anyway.
Your probation officer will be very strict with the rules. You must assume that your officer will note every step you take out in the world, and you will not be able to get away with any violations. If this is a problem, be honest with your attorney about your concerns so they can fight for the best sentencing outcome for you.
Who Is Eligible for Sex Offender Probation?
For those guilty of a sexual offense, probation rather than prison time is a possible alternative that a prosecutor can offer. However, not everyone may be given this offer, and it is certainly not a guarantee.
Probation is typically extended to defendants who are more likely to complete the requirements successfully. For example, a first-time offender has more incentive to avoid any violations. Less violent crimes and signs of remorse can also motivate a prosecutor to avoid a trial and offer probation.
If You Believe You are Eligible
Contact an attorney now if you are being charged with a sexual crime, but believe you are eligible for probation. Having a trusted attorney on your side can increase your chances of getting probation and getting the necessary exceptions you need to carry out your sentence without violations.
For example, you will need to get court-approved exceptions for any contact you have with children or internet access. But, if this will pose a problem for successfully completing your job or living in your current home, you may be able to receive permission from the judge. Navigating this process is unwise without an attorney; before trying to negotiate your sentence, you must be properly represented.
Contact Mike G Law for Legal Help
If you are facing legal rulings for sex crimes in Florida, you will want an experienced attorney fighting for your case. Any negotiations for increased freedoms should not be taken lightly, and should be approached by a professional. If you are looking to serve a probation sentence, or otherwise need legal counsel for your case, contact our team at Mike G Law.