Florida Sex Offenses and Why They are Different?
The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) program Florida categorizes sex offenses as unlawful sexual contact, sexual intercourse, behavior, or conduct, sexual gratification, and inability to give consent. Examples of these sex-related offenses include incest, rape, sex with minors, or indecent exposure. Florida is known to be one of the states with the harshest sex crime laws, and the offenses are punished differently based on individual factors like the age of the victim or use of a deadly weapon.
What is a Florida Sex Crime?
Sex crimes in the State of Florida have varying definitions and penalties. Sex-related crimes include sexual battery, incest, child pornography, sexual misconduct, and lewd or lascivious offenses. Below are examples of Florida sex crimes and their definitions according to the state statutes:
- Incest, as defined under the Florida statute 826.04, states that a person who marries or has sex with an individual to whom he or she is related by blood is punishable according to the penalties stated in statutes 775.082, 775.083 or 775.084.
- Lewd and lascivious behavior in statute 798.02 implies that if an individual, married or unmarried, is found guilty of such conduct, the individual will be sentenced according to 775.082 or 775.083.
- Sexual battery as per statute 794.011 is the penetration of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person or object, without the victim's consent. Cases, where the victim is impaired physically or mentally due to drugs, alcohol, or age, are included. The attached punishments can be found in statutes 775.082, 775.083, 775.084, or 794.0115.
What are the Different Types of Sex Offenses?
Under the Florida statutes, the different types of sex offenses in Florida are:
- Incest: Incest is a third-degree felony in Florida that occurs when relatives have sexual intercourse or marry each other. Typically, the punishment for this offense does not exceed five years of imprisonment.
- Exposure of Sexual Organs: The display of sexual organs in public and private places where it is not permitted is punishable by Florida's laws. Such violation is classified as a misdemeanor of the first degree, and anyone caught in the act might serve a jail term that does not exceed more than one year.
- Lewd or Lascivious Offenses Committed in the Presence or on an Elderly or Disabled Person: Sexual misconduct such as vaginal, oral, or anal penetration with a sexual organ or object against an elderly or disabled person is a felony of the second degree, and the offender may be imprisoned for not more than 30 years.
- Lewd or Lascivious Display Towards an Employee: An employer found committing lewd or lascivious exhibition in the presence of an employee is chargeable for a felony of the third degree, and the punishment attached is a jail term not exceeding ten years.
- Unnatural and Lascivious Act: Committing an unnatural and lascivious act is punishable, and it is classified as a misdemeanor of the second degree. If found guilty, the perpetrator will be incarcerated for a specified period, typically not more than 60 days.
- Offenses against students by a person of influence: Florida's laws do not support sexual conduct, lewd conduct, or romantic relationship by an authority figure with a student in an educational facility. Anyone guilty of this act has committed a felony of the second degree and will be sentenced to jail for not more than 30 years.
- Lewd and Lascivious Behavior: In Florida, any lewd and lascivious behavior towards a person, especially a minor, is a felony of the second degree. The punishment therein is a jail term of up to 30 years.
Sex Offender Levels of Classification in Florida
Through the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), the State of Florida classifies sex offenders in the state into three (3) tiers based on the severity of their offenses;
Tier 1 Offenses:
Offenders under this tier are required to register for a minimum of 15 years while also verifying their registration annually. Florida does not use this tier during its registration process as its sexual offenders are required to register for life and verify their registration twice in a year while sexual predators also register for life and verify their registration quarterly. Some offenses which require the Tier-1 registration include:
- False imprisonment
- Sexual battery committed on victim 18 years of age or older
- Video voyeurism (victim under the age of 18)
- Lewd or lascivious act on or in the presence of an elderly person or disabled person.
- Sexual performance by a child (possession)
- Computer pornography
Tier 2 Offenses:
SORNA regulation requires offenders under this tier to register for a minimum of 25 years while verifying their registration biannually. Here are some of the offenses under Florida statutes that would require a Tier-2 registration:
- Sexual battery (solicitation or an act of sexual battery of a child under 18, who is under the offender's watch)
- Unlawful sexual activity with certain minors
- Procuring person under age 18 for prostitution
- Buying or selling of minors into prostitution or sex trafficking
- Lewd or lascivious battery
Tier 3 Offenses:
Under this tier, the Florida statutes require its sexual predators to register for life and verify their registration every three months. Some of the offenses that fall under this category include:
- Sexual Predator Criteria i.e., an offender who has previously been convicted of certain sex offenses
- Sexual battery
- Lewd or Lascivious Battery
- Lewd or Lascivious Molestation (offender convicted as an adult, victim 13-15 years of age and the touching is without clothing of the genitalia)
How Do I Find A Sex Offender Near Me in Florida?
In 1997, Florida's Public Safety Information Act was passed to alert Florida residents about sex offenders in the state. To this end, all sex offenders in the State of Florida were documented by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), and these records became public. Citizens of Florida may access sex offender information online, by mail, or in person.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement manages a public website where the details of registered sex offenders/predators are posted. Interested persons will be able to see the offender's photo and other descriptions about the predator. Florida residents can also sign up on the Florida Offender Alert System where an email notification will be sent when a sex offender moves within a certain radius stated by the subscriber, or anywhere in the state. Lastly, a person's criminal history can be accessed on the FDLE website, and charges apply.
Interested persons may query the Clerk of Courts' Office in the county where the sex offender was brought to justice. The county of conviction is typically stated on the Florida sex offender registry, and by clicking on it, a list of all Florida Clerk of Court websites will be presented.
To obtain details of sex offenders in Florida, residents may visit the local arresting law enforcement agency in the county where they live.
Florida Sex Offender Registry
Maintained by The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Sexual Offenders and Predators Search contains a list of current sexual offenders and predators in the State of Florida. The list is updated regularly to ensure that the information contained in it is up to date and accurate. The details of offenders provided on the database include name, physical features, status, crime report, address, designation, and photographs. Interested parties may access the registry online and search by city, zip code, county, name, and radius.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
What are the Sex Offender Restrictions in Florida?
According to Florida statutes, some of the restrictions of sex offenders in Florida are as follows:
- Sex offenders whose victims are minors (less than 16 years old) may not live within 1000 meters of any playground, school, park, or childcare facility. Furthermore, violators are not to share candies to children during Halloween or wear costumes during any festivities.
- A person found on the sex offender registry may not act as an athletic coach in Florida.
- Florida sex offenders are to observe a compulsory curfew from 10:00 pm to 6:00 pm daily.
- Sex convicts are restricted from internet access or other computer services until a risk assessment is completed.