Can Sex Offenders Be Removed From The Registry In Florida?
Back in the 1990s, many pundits believed that sex offender registration laws were the best thing since sliced bread. Since then, these laws have been harshly criticized by many, even the advocates who pushed for them. There’s almost no evidence that these registrations are effective, and they prevent former offenders from re-integrating into society.
Despite this criticism and lack of evidence, Florida still has very harsh sex offender registration laws, and the penalties for non-registration are severe. Nevertheless, a few escape provisions are available. The advocacy of a Tampa criminal defense attorney doesn’t end once the defendant’s initial sentence ends. Instead, a lawyer maximizes a defendant’s chances of using one of these escape hatches.
A pardon application is not a shot in the dark. Most governors at least seriously review about 10 percent of the pardon applications they receive. Presentation and timing usually make the biggest difference.
Pardon applications don’t go directly to the governor. Instead, a designated staff member typically reviews them and makes recommendations to the governor. So, a Tampa criminal defense lawyer must address the envelope, and the contents, to that staff member. Personal invitations are much more appealing than generic invitations.
Timing is almost as important. Good timing means presentation at the proper time. Sometimes, governors make public statements about overly harsh laws that turn defendants into victims. Additionally, governors often grant pardons as their terms are about to expire, so they don’t have to face the fallout.
Timing also means the defendant’s sentence is in the rearview mirror. Technically, governors have the power to issue pardons as soon as the judge’s gavel falls. However, a successful outcome is much more likely if the defendant completed his/her sentence at least ten years ago and has had no criminal law issues since then. A demonstrated hardship over that period of time, such as difficulties finding employment, helps as well.
On a similar note, a sex offense conviction may not be final. Successful appeals are possible. Typically, a Tampa criminal defense lawyer must prove that a serious pretrial or trial error affected the trial’s outcome, or that the judge abused his/her discretion in some way.
Twenty-Five Year Removal
A twenty-five year removal petition is much like a pardon petition, but the success rate is much higher.
Under Florida law, defendants are eligible for removal if they have had no run-ins with the law over the past quarter century. However, that’s just the minimum qualification.
To lay the groundwork, a lawyer usually must convince the defendant’s supervision officers to agree to the petition. An agreement not to oppose the petition may also be sufficient. Additionally, the judge must believe the removal is in the best interests of the defendant, as well as in the best interests of society. Removal is almost always in the best interests of the defendant. The best interests of society is another matter.
On a similar note, Florida law also includes a Romeo and Juliet registration exception. This exception applies if the defendant and alleged victim were between 13 and 17, the defendant was less than two years older than the alleged victim, the alleged victim consented, and the defendant has an otherwise clean criminal record.
Count on a Reliable Hillsborough County Attorney
A criminal charge is not the same thing as a criminal conviction. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, contact the OA Law Firm. Virtual, home, and jail visits are available.