Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Florida passes laws that are TOUGH on sex offenders

7/27/05 State Update from NCVC: During the 2005 Legislative Session, the following sex offender-related bills were sent to Governor Jeb Bush, who signed them during May and June:

"The Jessica Lunsford Act," HB 1877 , is a comprehensive bill that makes numerous changes to existing laws dealing with sex offenders. Provisions include: designating convicted offenders who have committed a first degree sex offense or two other sex offenses as sexual predators; requiring designated sexual offenders to be monitored by electronic GPS units; requiring in-person re-registration twice annually; and requiring state agencies to study the effectiveness of reporting requirements and recidivism rates. This bill is named after a nine-year-old girl who was abducted and killed by a previously convicted sex offender.

SB 1354 creates a stricter review process to determine whether convicted sex offenders whose victims were under age 18 may have contact with minors. Under the new law, released offenders may not have contact with any child, including their own, regardless of whether or not that child was the victim, until a qualified practitioner has completed a risk assessment, developed a safety plan, and recommended that the contact is in the best interest of the child. In addition, the child's non-abusing parent or legal guardian must approve the contact and agree to provide or arrange for visitation supervision at all times.

HB 411 adds the following offenses to the Florida criminal punishment code: possession of any photographic or video images that include sexual conduct by a child; electronic transmission of child pornography; and facilitation of either sexual conduct of or with a minor or the visual depiction of such conduct. The criminal punishment code classifies felonies into 10 levels, based on severity, and inclusion of an offense in the code increases the offender's incarceration time. The bill also increases the severity ranking for solicitation of a child through a computer service in order to commit an unlawful sex act, which was already listed within the criminal punishment code.