What You Need to Know About Florida’s Sex Offender Classification Levels

July 21, 2021 Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes

An individual added to Florida’s sex offender registry will suffer major consequences – both personal and professional. These consequences can range from limitations on jobs the individual is able to have all the way to where they can live. Since the consequences are severe and life-long, it is important to stay informed regarding Florida’s sex offender laws.

What Offenses Will Land an Individual on the Registry?

Under Florida law, specifically Florida Statute 943.0435, in order to be placed on the sex offender registry list, an individual must be convicted of a “qualifying offense.” As of 2019, over 73,000 registered sex offenders and predators resided in the state of Florida. Offenses that will land an individual on the sex offender registry include:

  • Kidnapping
  • False Imprisonment
  • Lewd and Lascivious Offenses
    • This can include offenses like lewd and lascivious battery, public nudity, and other similar offenses)
  • Sexual Battery
    • This can include date rape, statutory rape, and spousal rape.
  • Child Molestation
  • Unlawful Sexual Activity with a Minor
  • Sexual Performance by a Child
  • Selling or Buying Minors
  • Child Sex Work
  • Child Pornography

In Florida, if an individual has been convicted of one of the above-listed crimes here, or a similar crime in another jurisdiction, they will need to register with the state.

What Levels are Used to Classify Sex Offenders?

In Florida, there are three levels used in classifying sex offenders. These levels are codified in Florida Statute 775.21, “The Florida Sexual Predators Act.” These levels are delineated by the severity of the sexual crime and bear their own legal consequences. The levels are as follows:

Level 1 Sex Offender

This classification is the least serious of the three and is used for individuals who have committed lower-level crimes wherein the court deems the offender less likely to reoffend. The legal consequences for this classification are much less severe than the other two – the individual must only report to the local sheriff’s department two times a year. Individuals classified as Level 1 Sex Offenders also have an easier time eventually being removed from the registry. Level 1 offenses usually include charges that the court deems to be “one-offs,” meaning that the individual likely does not have a criminal nature. Examples of this would include charges for streaking on campus or a younger adult with no priors receiving a nude photograph from a minor.

Level 2 Sex Offender

This classification is more serious than Level 1 but less serious than Level 3 and is used for individuals who the court believes are more likely to reoffend. The court factors in the individual’s criminal history and the severity of the instant crime charged in making this determination. Similar to Level 1, an individual can be removed from this classification after a certain period of time. The consequences are a bit more severe than Level 1 – Level 2 Sex Offenders must report to the local sheriff’s department four times in a year. Depending on the severity of the instant crime, Level 2 Sex Offenders might also face other consequences and restrictions.

Level 3 Sex Offender

This classification is the most severe out of the three. Individuals classified as Level 3 Sex Offenders are officially deemed “sexual predators.” This classification will include individuals who have at least one felony charge of first-degree sexual misconduct or two felony charges of second-degree sexual misconduct. Differently from Levels 1 and 2, an individual classified as a Level 3 Sex Offender, or sexual predator, can never be removed from the registry. Similar to Level 2, they must report to the local sheriff’s department four times in a year. Those deemed Level 3 Sex Offenders, or sexual predators, will face the most severe consequences and restrictions, including where they can or can’t work, live, or be present.

How Long Does an Individual Remain on the Sex Offender Registry?

For those classified as Levels 1 or 2 Sex Offenders, removal is possible with petition, but only in certain scenarios, including:

  • The instant crime that placed the individual on the registry was pardoned
  • The individual was on the registry for at least twenty-five years without committing any felony or misdemeanor offenses
  • The individual is qualified under the Romeo and Juliet

However, just meeting the requirements set forth above does not guarantee an individual’s removal. The final decision for removal remains up to the judge.

What Happens if an Individual Fails to Register?

Severe legal consequences await those who refrain from registering when required to do so. Under Florida law, failing to register as required by statute is a felony offense. Consequences will differ based on the individual’s prior criminal history and the severity of the instant crime, but the individual will likely face either or all of: fines, probation, parole, or prison time. Failure to register could also serve as the basis for a judge’s denial of a petition to be removed from the registry, even if all requirements are met.

Tallahassee Sex Crimes Attorney

As is reported above, sex crimes bear severe consequences. The classification levels used under Florida law will dictate many of the consequences these individuals will face for the rest of their lives. If you or a loved one have been accused of a sex crime, it is incredibly important to retain a knowledgeable Tallahassee criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to explore your options. Don Pumphrey and the members of the legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm have decades of experiences representing individuals charged with sexual offenses and will fight to ensure you receive the best defense possible. Call (850) 681-7777 or send an online message today for an open and free consultation with an attorney in our legal team.

This article was written by Gabi D’Esposito

gabi d'esposito pumphrey law

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