Florida has strict rules regarding registration of convicted sex offenders and predators. The Florida Sex Registry database lists all Florida residents who have been convicted of a sexual offense. As well as personal information, offenders are required to provide details of their employment or education establishment, Social Security number, driver's license number and a current photograph. The offender is obligated to update these details up to four times a year, depending on their offense. Registered sex offenders who move across state lines must also notify the state that they move to of their offense. Except in rare situations, listing on the Florida Sex Registry is for life and, with such wide publicity, being on the registry can have huge implications for anyone whose details appear on it.
Also, if you move to Florida and were convicted of an offense in another state that Florida considers a Sex Offense, you will have to register as a sex offender in Florida.
Wherefore art thou, Romeo?
In certain circumstances, it is possible to avoid having to provide details to the sex offenders' registry. Known as the Romeo and Juliet law, a provision in the Florida Statute allows for an application to be made to court that one's personal details not appear on the Registry. The application can be made only under very specific circumstances:
- The person convicted must not have any other convictions
- The offender must be no more than 4 years older than the victim
- The victim is older than 14 and younger than 17 at the time of the offense
- The offence committed was consensual
- Non registration does not conflict with federal law
The law only applies to offences committed on or after July 1, 2007. If the above circumstances are met, an application can be made to the court prior to the sentencing or disposition of the offender. This system is not designed to be easy and precise time limits also apply.
The logic behind the exemption is to distinguish between sexual predators and first time technical offenders who engage in consensual sex, sparing the latter the potentially massive negative repercussions of having to register as a sex offender.
If you have been charged with a sex offense and are concerned about the consequences including the requirement of Sex Offender Registry registration, it is in your best interests to speak to a criminal defense lawyer regarding your case. They can help you understand your rights under Florida and federal laws.