Usually, an individual who is required to register as a sex offender must register at least once a year and report any change of address within as little as three days. Furthermore, he or she must produce vehicle information, a recent photograph, and a DNA sample. Those who are forced to register as sex offenders are required to abide by stringent residency restrictions, which can force individuals out of urban areas, away from family, and into unemployment.
If a person fails to comply with just one of these many requirements, he or she can be charged with failure to register, and the penalties are severe. Failure to register as a sex offender is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.
Does a Prior Criminal History Impact These Consequences?
Yes, if you have a prior criminal conviciton and fail to register as a sex offender, then a judge could be required to enhance the sentence of a person convicted of failure to register to an even higher minimum prison sentence than mandatory 21 months in prison otherwise required under Florida's criminal code.
What Reasons are Acceptable for Missing a Reporting Deadline?
Courts and police officers accept few excuses for failing to register or failing to report a change in address. However, there are some circumstances that are defenses to failing to register as a sex offender.
There are certain locations where a person must visit to register. If the required reporting date falls on a date that that office building or sheriff's office is closed because of recognized holidays, natural disasters, or normal weekend closures, then the person attempting to provide registration information is expected to arrive the next day that location is open for business.
At times, other acts of god will be considered by the court as a defense for missing a reporting deadline. For instance, if you are unconscious and in the hospital after an automobile accident, the court will consider that reason as an excuse for missing a deadline. However, even if a close family member is in the hospital, you would likely not be excused from timely reporting to the appropriate office.
Have You Been Charged With Failing to Register as a Sex Offender?
If you have been charged with failing to register as a sex offender, it is important that you talk with an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you understand how your side of the story might lead to a defense under Florida law.
Developing a defense strategy is important and should be taken very seriously. The consequences of being convicted last long after the mandated prison sentence and can affect the rest of your life.
The professionals at the OA Law Firm are practiced in representing clients in your situation and understand how stressful it can be to face these charges alone. Contact us today for a free consultation.