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Visiting Florida with a Sex Crimes Record? Don’t Forget to Register

A familiar feature in the news is the police hunt for those convicted of sex crimes after they have failed to register under state laws. For example, this week, in Punta Gorda, Florida, a man was arrested after failing to register as a sex offender. According to the Herald Tribune, 32-year-old Eugene Chaney had previously been forced to leave his apartment because it was located too close to schools, playgrounds, and day care facilities. When police visited the apartment, Mr. Chaney had already vacated, but he did not register his new address, as required by Florida law. Later, Mr. Chaney was found in Port Charlotte and was arrested for failing to register as a sex offender. In Brooksville, Florida, a related story broke the news last week.  WTSP.com reported that 34-year-old Jason Lamont was being sought by police after failing to register as a sex offender. Police issued a warrant for his arrest and asked for assistance from the public to apprehend Mr. Lamont.

With frequent stories regarding the failure of sex offenders to register under Florida law, and the search for them by police, it is without question that convicted sex offenders should understand the requirements for registering as a sex offender or sexual predator. One tricky problem that can arise, especially for convicted sex offenders who are relocating to Florida, is the requirements for simply visiting the state.

If a convicted sex offender is visiting the state of Florida, does he or she need to register? The answer is yes.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, convicted sex offenders must comply with registration requirements even if they are only visiting, attending school or temporarily working in Florida. There are two layers to the law, which are important to note.

First, federal and state law both require that convicted sex offenders register in the jurisdictions in which they live, work, or go to school. So, right off of the bat, even if a sexual offender is only temporarily going to the state of Florida, both the law in that state, and federal law dictate that he or she must register as a sex offender. Sex offenders must register with a temporary address. A visitor, temporary worker, or student who is also a registered sex offender is subject to and must abide by Florida’s registration laws, while he or she is in the state.

Secondly, convicted sex offenders who are visiting Florida from out of state must report in person to the sheriff’s office within 48 hours of establishing a temporary residence in the state. A temporary residence is a residence that is not the person’s permanent residence, but where he or she will stay for at least five days. If the convicted sex offender does not have a permanent residence in Florida, his or her temporary address is the place where he or she is employed, practices a vocation or goes to school for any period of time. In addition to reporting to the sheriff’s office, a convicted sex offender must also report in person to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and must give a copy of a completed sexual offender registration form, in order to obtain a Florida identification card or driver’s license.

If a convicted sex offender fails to properly register,
even if only visiting Florida, he or she may face third degree felony charges. If you have been charged with committing sex crimes or with failing to register, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal law attorney. Contact the attorneys at Hanlon Law today for a confidential consultation.