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Florida's Statutes on Sexual Predators
by Amber Maccione
The state of Florida defines a sexual predator as a person who has committed one of the “one is enough” sexual predator offenses or a person who has re-offended in a sexual capacity (“second-strike”) after already being considered a sexual predator (98-02: Guidelines to Florida Sex Offender Laws 1998). Once convicted of the “one is enough” offenses, the state of Florida labels you a sexual predator with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), all law enforcement has information in their databases, and the area in which the sexual predator is living is notified of their presence.
Under Chapter 794, a sexual predator’s act can be labeled as capital felony, life felony, or first degree felony with some cases being second or third degree felonies (Ramage 1997 & Sammis 2012). Sexual battery against a minor is the sum of what most of Chapter 794 offenses include. The persons who are the predators can range from someone over 18 or under 18 to someone in law enforcement or a person having custodial authority over the minor. Consent is not considered unless the persons are within a four year age range of each other and there is no custodial authority involvement (Ramage 1997).
There are also numerous other ways to be labeled a sexual offender besides sexual battery. Some other ways to be charged as a sexual offender would be kidnapping/false imprisonment of a minor, luring or enticing a child, procuring a minor to prostitute, sex trafficking, lewd or lascivious offenses, and having material that shows a child in a sexual manor such as child pornography. In Florida, law enforcement has been working hard to target sex crimes on the internet through craigslist.com and backpage.com. Law enforcement is trying to get young girls out of the huge sex trafficking ring that has plague Florida as well as get sexual predators off social media that is targeting our young females and propositioning them for sex.
Once convicted of a sexual predator crime, you are required to register with FDLE and/or the sheriff’s office in your area. If on parole or probation, the department of corrections usually makes sure to notify the above parties and update the database of your information. If having moved into Florida or moved to another jurisdiction within the state of Florida and are no longer under the department of corrections, you are required to register yourself within 48 hours of your temporary permanent residence by going to the local FDLE or sheriff’s office in that jurisdiction. Also, all sexual predators are required to go in person to the DMV to update their photo id and/or license so that the information can be sent to FDLE (98-02: Guidelines to Florida Sex Offender Laws 1998 & The 2012 Florida Statutes 2013).
The state of Florida also has laws in place to ensure that sexual predators do not strike again. The state limits the areas in which a sexual predator can live and also the areas in which a sexual predator can enjoy life. For example, let’s say someone was charged and convicted on one account of sexual battery with a person less than 12 years of age. That sexual predator would not be allowed to live within 1,000 feet of any school, park, playground, or daycare (Florida Laws and Related Information 2006).
Part 1 or 4 (Debra Lafaye)
Part 2 of 4 (Debra Lafaye)
As stated before, some of the charges for punishment and recommendation of punishments can fall under capital felony, life felony, and first degree felony, but some sexual offenses are misdemeanors such as breaking their living requirements by living within 1,000 feet of a daycare (Florida Laws and Related Information 2006). According to the Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, Florida, persons who violate sexual predatory laws in Florida can range from probation to life in prison depending on the situation. Debra Lafaye, for example, was convicted of sexual battery with a minor under Chapter 794 because she had custodial authority over the student. She avoided doing thirty years as would have been the law's suggestion. She took a plea deal and was placed on house confinement and served probation for her sexual predatory offenses. When sentencing someone convicted of a sexual predatory crime, punishment under Florida law comes down to what the defense and prosecution legal teams agree upon as a plea bargain and what the judge deems reasonable justice for the offender (Sammis 2012 & Factors Relating to the Sentencing of Sex Offenders 2006).
Part 3 of 4 (Debra Lafaye)
Part 4 of 4 (Debra Lafaye)
Florida does a very thorough job when it comes to making sure sexual predators are caught and prosecuted, although in such cases as the Debra Lafaye case, they were rather relaxed. One issue though that should be taken into review would be in cases where a minor has lied about their age or in cases where the sexual predator is a minor.
In regards to cases where a minor has lied, I think that should be taken into account before the accused is sentenced to five years in prison and labeled as a sexual predator. For example, my step-mother’s friend's son met a young lady at a house party. She wore a lot of make-up and was dressed rather provocatively. She lied and said she was 18 years of age. One night, her father caught her sneaking out of the house. When interrogated by her father, she finally admitted she was dating and having sexual relations with my step-mother’s friend’s son who was 21. The father was furious because his daughter was only 14 years of age. He prosecuted the man and he had to serve five years behind bars and register as a sex offender.
Another example of how the law fails someone is in regards to sexting. Numerous students in middle school and high school would admit that they have participated in sexting. The one thing though is that these pictures are considered child pornography under Florida law and anyone who has these are guilty of a sexual offense. Some minors (boys to be exact) have been charged with possessing child pornography and are now labeled as sexual predators for it. I think this is a little harsh especially since the photos were of their girlfriend or ex-girlfriends.
Although there are some flaws when it comes to Florida law, Florida is one state that is very aggressive when it comes to protecting children against sexual crimes and making sure those that violate these laws are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. For the most part, Florida is a great model to other states on how to crack down on sexual predators and how to make sure these predators do not strike again by making sure those in the community are aware of there residence and making law enforcement informed through a statewide database of information about each sexual predator that lives within its state borders.
(1998). “98-02: Guidelines to Florida Sex Offender Laws.” Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Retrieved from http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/Content/getdoc/46e8a13b-1e57-4ede-8ffb-073d62fa9ffe/lb9802_12-18.aspx
(2006). Factors Relating to the Sentencing of Sex Offenders. Office of Economic and Demographic Research. Retrieved from http://edr.state.fl.us/Content/special-research-projects/criminal-justice/FactorsRelatingSentencingSexOffenders.pdf
(2006). “Florida Laws and Related Information.” Florida Sexual Offenders and Predators. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Retrieved from http://offender.fdle.state.fl.us/offender/FloridaLaws.jsp
(2013). “The 2012 Florida Statutes.” The Florida Legislature. Retrieved from http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfmApp_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0900-0999/0943/Sections/0943.0435.html
Ramage, M. (1997). “97-02: Florida’s Sexual Predator, Sexual Offender, and General Felon Registration and Notification Procedures as of October 1, 1997.” Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Retrieved from http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/Content/getdoc/1863692c-cef5-48e4-8a2e-93bfdff688e2/lb9702_8-22.aspx
Sammis, L. & Sammis, J. (2012). “Tampa Attorney Explains Florida’s Sexual Battery Statute.” Sammis Law Firm, P.A. Retrieved from http://www.criminaldefenseattorneytampa.com/PracticeAreas/SexuallyMotivatedCrimes/SexualBattery.aspx#Florida_Penalties_Sexual_Battery
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