Appealing Sexual Predator Status in Florida

A sex offense conviction in Florida can come with severe consequences, including the possibility of significant time behind bars. Sex offenders are also required to register as such in the Sunshine State, a designation that renders your conviction and your address publicly available. For anyone previously convicted of a sex crime, a new conviction can also bring a new registration requirement as a sexual predator. That means additional registration requirements and a much more difficult process for removing yourself from the registration. It also means more public scrutiny. A recent decision from Florida’s First District Court of Appeal shows just how difficult it can be to fight a sexual predator designation, and just how important it is to have an experienced attorney in your corner.

blank paperJ.F. was charged with 19 counts of possession of child pornography, in violation of Florida state law. He eventually pleaded guilty to all 19 counts, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison as well as 25 years of probation. J.F. was also designated as a sexual predator under state law based on his prior criminal history.

J.F. later appealed the decision, arguing that he should not have been tagged as a sexual predator. He said he had previously been found delinquent as a juvenile in a separate sex offense case, but wasn’t actually convicted. J.F. argued that delinquency alone wasn’t enough to justify classification as a sexual offender. His lawyer asked to be dropped from the case.

The First District affirmed the conviction and sexual predator designation. The court said J.F. could not raise the delinquency argument at trial. Nor, according to the court, did he mention it after the conviction and during a sentencing hearing. As a result, the court said J.F. waived his right to appeal the conviction based on the delinquency argument.

“We affirm the sexual predator designation because Appellant failed to preserve this issue for appeal, the First District said. “He cannot raise the issue for the first time on appeal.”

The court cited the Florida Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Brannon v. State. That case involved a man sentenced as a habitual offender for possession of cocaine with the intent to sell. He didn’t raise a question about his habitual offender status during trial or the sentencing hearing that followed. The Supreme Court said that he couldn’t raise the issue on appeal for the first time.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a sex crime in the state of Florida, it is essential that you seek the advice and counsel of an experienced lawyer. St. Petersburg sex crime attorney Will Hanlon is a seasoned lawyer who fights aggressively on behalf of clients charged with a wide range of offenses. Call our offices at (727) 897-5413 or contact us online to speak with Mr. Hanlon about your case.

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