As of June 2021, there were 30,146 sexual offenders and predators living in Florida communities.
|Registered Sex Offenders and Predators Living in Florida Communities|
|Source: OPPAGA analysis of FDLE Sexual Offender/Predator Registry, June 2021.|
Sexual offenders and predators living in Florida communities are subject to many requirements and constraints.
Registration. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) maintains the Sexual Offender/Predator Registry, a statewide searchable system for collecting and disseminating information to both the public and law enforcement agencies. With few exceptions, all qualifying sexual offenders and predators must maintain registration with FDLE for the duration of their lives. These persons must register in-person with the sheriff in the county where they live within 48 hours of establishing a residence or experiencing any change in information required to be provided pursuant to statute. Sexual offenders must re-register at their county sheriff's office either two or four times a year depending on their offense. Sexual predators, some sexual offenders, and juvenile sexual offenders must report four times a year.
Information available to the public includes the offender's address, photo, a physical description including any tattoos, a description and tag number for all vehicles registered to the offender, as well as the date and type of sex offense. Additional information available to law enforcement includes work address, home or cellular telephone number, and a description and tag number of any vehicles registered to individuals who reside with the offender, as well as any email or internet identifiers.
Identification. Sexual offenders and predators must update their Florida driver license or identification card within 48 hours after any change to their name or address. These cards have color markings on the front that identify the individual as a sexual offender-'943.0435, F.S.' or sexual predator-'SEXUAL PREDATOR'.
Notification. Sexual offenders and predators are required to report to law enforcement officials when they are enrolled, employed, or volunteer at an institution of higher education. This information is both shared with the institution and posted to the Sex Offender/Predator Registry. Additionally, sexual predators are subject to community notification including, notice to licensed child care facilities and schools within a 1-mile radius of the predator's residence.
Residency Restrictions. Sexual offenders and predators convicted of specified offenses in which the victim was less than 16 years of age may not reside within 1,000 feet of any school, child care facility, park, or playground. However, local governments can impose municipal or county ordinances that further prohibit where some or all sexual offenders can live. As of March 2021, there were 190 such ordinances in 51 Florida counties.
Address Verification. Sexual offenders and predators are subject to address verification that, at a minimum, includes regular face-to-face contact between a law enforcement official and the offender/predator. Most sheriffs' offices conduct at least one, in-person address verification at an offender's residence per year, with many sheriffs conducting three or more per year for predators. The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) is responsible for verifying the addresses of offenders and predators under its supervision.
Supervision. Some sex offenders and predators are supervised in the community by the FDC. Most of these offenders are subject to high levels of supervision by specialized probation officers. Some are also subject to statutorily defined conditions including a mandatory curfew and submitting to a warrantless search of their person, residence, or vehicle. Further, some are subject to electronic monitoring. As of June 2021, the FDC supervised 5,951 persons registered as a sexual offender or sexual predator.
In addition to the sexual offender and sexual predator categories that are defined by criminal law, there is a third category defined by civil law—the sexually violent predator.
The Jimmy Ryce Involuntary Civil Commitment for Sexually Violent Predators' Treatment and Care Act, Ch. 394 Part V, Florida Statutes, provides for the civil confinement of a group of sexual offenders who, due to their criminal history and the presence of mental abnormality, are found likely to engage in future acts of sexual violence if they are not confined in a secure facility for long-term control, care, and treatment. The Florida Legislature enacted this law in 1998 to protect the public by keeping those sexual predators from reentering society until they have been judged fit for release from custody.
The act creates a civil commitment process for sexually violent predators after they have served their criminal sentence or term of confinement. The commitment process involves four stages.
If the commitment process is not completed prior to the end of an offender's prison sentence, he is detained by court order and transferred to the Florida Civil Commitment Center (FCCC) to await the outcome of commitment proceedings.
The Florida Civil Commitment Center (FCCC) is an accredited 720-bed, highly secure, therapeutic facility in Arcadia, Florida, that was specifically designed and constructed to house the Sexually Violent Predator Program. Only offenders detained or committed under the Jimmy Ryce Act are housed at this facility. FCCC is operated by Wellpath Recovery Solutions, which provides all treatment and rehabilitative services.
Since the program's inception, over 80,300 offenders have been referred to the program for screening and assessment. The DCF multidisciplinary team has recommended 1,955 of these offenders for commitment. As of April 2021, the commitment center housed 546 individuals: 408 civilly committed predators, 137 detainees awaiting completion of commitment procedures, and 1 non-committed offender who remained in custody under a court-ordered stipulated agreement.
The Sexually Violent Predator treatment program consists of four levels of cognitive behavior modification. Staff annually assesses the treatment progress of committed residents. Persons committed to the state under the Jimmy Ryce Act are detained until the court determines that they are no longer a threat to public safety. As of April 2021, 338 offenders have been released following a court finding that they no longer met the criteria to be a sexually violent predator. Of this number, 72 had reached level four, the program's most advanced level of treatment.
2021 Legislative Changes. The Florida Legislature enacted Chapter 2021-139, Laws of Florida, which altered time-sharing requirements with a minor child. Previously, there was no blanket provision prohibiting a person who has committed a sexual crime from exercising time-sharing with their minor child. Further, the law presumed that parental responsibility should be shared by both parents, unless the court found it would be detrimental to the child. Although the court was required to acknowledge in writing when it considers evidence of sexual violence in evaluating the best interests of the child, it was possible to have been convicted of a sexual crime and be entitled to time-sharing with a minor child. This law change created a rebuttable presumption against parental responsibility and time sharing for parents who are convicted, or have had adjudication withheld, for specified sexual offenses, if at the time of the offense
However, the presumption against parental time-sharing may be rebutted if the court makes a specific finding that the parent poses no significant risk of harm to the child and that time-sharing is in the best in interest of the child.
2020 Legislative Changes. Chapter 2020-81, Laws of Florida, creates an exception to statute of limitation provisions for specified sexual battery offenses committed against minor victims. Titled Donna’s Law, the act stipulates that prosecution of sexual batteries may be commenced at any time, as long as the victim was younger than 18 years of age at the time the offense occurred. The bill applies to offenses committed on or after July 1, 2020.
The 2020 Legislature also passed Chapter 2020-84, Laws of Florida, which expedites the arrest process for indecent exposure and increases the penalty for a second or subsequent offense. Among the bill’s provisions, it allows an officer to conduct a warrantless arrest if the officer reasonably believes the person has committed indecent exposure. The bill makes a second or subsequent indecent exposure offense a third degree felony. The bill also clarifies that exposing of sexual organs by a mother breastfeeding her baby, or a person who is merely naked at a place provided or set apart for that purpose is lawful, and not a violation of Florida's indecent exposure statute.
Websites of Interest
Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Sexual Offenders and Predators, Frequently Asked Questions
Office of Economic and Demographic Research, Criminal Justice Reports List
U.S. Department of Justice, Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website
Center for Sex Offender Management
Performance measures and standards for the Department of Children and Families may be found in its Long Range Program Plan and Performance Dashboard that reports the department's performance on external and internal measures for its various programs. The dashboard allows the user to view performance at both a statewide and geographic region level.
Performance measures and standards for the Department of Law Enforcement may be found in its Long Range Program Plan.