Florida law requires sex offenders - whether convicted of their crimes within the State of Florida or outside the State of Florida - to register with local law enforcement agencies.
Florida law basically defines a sexual offender as somebody who has been convicted of a sex crime.
For purposes of the sexual offender registration requirements, it does not matter whether the person was convicted of their crime (adjudicated guilty) or whether adjudication was withheld.
Florida law requires that a sexual offender shall report in person at their county sheriff's office within 48 hours after establishing a permanent or temporary residence, after being released from prison or jail, or after being convicted.
So that means if you are in court and you accept a plea that makes you a sexual offender, within 48 hours of accepting that plea, you must go to the sheriff's office and register.
All counties in Florida have true sheriff's offices. In Miami-Dade County, the Miami-Dade Police Department is the county sheriff's office.
The person must provide their name, date of birth, social security number, and physical characteristics (height, weight, eye color). They must also provide law enforcement with their address, phone number, and all other contact information.
The sexual offender must also inform law enforcement of their place of work or school. The sexual offender must also provide fingerprints and a photograph every time they register. A sexual offender must register multiple times a year. A sexual predator (whose reporting requirements are different and are covered under a different statute) must register more frequently.
This is only a fraction of what a sexual offender is required to do. The designation poses a very tough restriction on a person's life. Failure to register as a sexual offender is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. However, since many sex offenders have sex crimes in their past, they can be enhanced under Florida's "Career Criminal" statutes and may face more time.
Eric Matheny is a Miami sex crimes attorney and Broward sex crimes attorney.