Signs Declaring Sexual Predators’ Residences Possibly Causing Increase in Fear to Register in Florida

Convicted sexual predators in Bradford County, FL, now have red reflective warning signs outside the homes. Eighteen sex predators in particular who live in Bradford found large red signs outside their homes last week that read, “A convicted sexual predator… lives at this location. The signs are only being posted at the homes of sexual predators, not sex offenders. A predator is someone who had been convicted of a first-degree felony and is either a repeat offender or their crimes are violent with a victim under 12.The signs cost about $10 a piece.

There are some major differences in the requirements of the charge between sexual offenders and sexual predators. The primary difference between the two is the number of times throughout the year that the offender must register; sexual predators must register four times annually and sexual offenders need to register only bi-annually. While the charges differ in type and severity of act, the requirements for registration are almost identical. If one fails to register as required by law, one could possibly be arrested and face numerous other penalties, including jail time.

What happens after one is required to register though? No one wants their registration as anything sexual out for the public to see and hear about. However, police may notify the public of a sexual predator’s designation. According to FL Statute 775.261, the sheriff of the county or the police chief of the municipality where the sexual predator resides shall notify the community and the public of the presence of the sexual predator in a manner that is deemed appropriate by the sheriff or the chief of police. Upon notification of the presence of a career offender, the sheriff or police chief may notify the community and the public of the presence of the career offender in a manner deemed appropriate by the sheriff or the chief of police.

The major problem with this statute is that the sheriff or police chief in the location that the offender lives has broad discretion in the manner of informing the public. This can be in the form of having a website available for citizens to view the locations of sexual predators, or even having pamphlets sent out to each citizen’s mailbox informing them of predators. However, there are major problems with signs outside of an individual’s home, predator or not.

One has a right to privacy in one’s home. Even if one has done something wrong and been convicted, one may still reasonably expect that one will not be subject to other crimes caused by other people for a designation of what one is, which designation in some cases, results from a correct conviction on previous charges, but a false conviction on the last, making one a career criminal.

The major problem with signs outside of career offenders’ houses, even though some did in fact harm others with their sexual acts, is that some ordinary citizens get angry at sexual offenders, either because of another’s sexual misconduct towards them personally or harm to a loved one. Some have been known to actively seek out sex offenders and harm them, either via property damage or even physical violence.

Some offenders are scared to register as a sexual offender because of this very problem. Remember though, failing to register as a sex offender is a felony. Also remember that some registration laws can be rather strict, requiring those convicted of a sex crime to register in whatever state they move to or work in. Some sexual offenders, who after decades have probably moved on from the conviction, are still forced and are therefore still fearful of the danger in exposure of one’s past all over again, which will be guaranteed to happen unfortunately if one fails to register.

One in a situation such as this should obtain an experienced Jacksonville sex crimes defense attorney to fight for one’s case and ensure one’s rights, defenses, and options are known and protected. One cannot fight this battle alone. With the help of an experienced attorney, one can be sure that a simple mistake like failing to register will not become a bane on one’s life and become a thing of the past.

The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.

Additional Source: Florida Sex Offenders ID’d with signs outside their homes, Lucy Valencia, CBS 13

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