Florida Court: Judge Has Discretion in Deciding Whether to Remove Underage Sex Offender from Registry

Florida law allows a person convicted of a sex crime as a minor to later ask to be removed from the sex offender registry under certain circumstances. Those circumstances often have to do with the nature of the crime for which the person was convicted, but judges also have the authority to consider the person’s record since that conviction. A recent case out of Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal is a good example of how later, unrelated Florida sex crime convictions can keep you on the sex offender list.

Legal News GavelThe defendant was under the age of 18 when he was convicted in 2000 for lewd and lascivious battery on a child between the ages of 12 and 16. Florida law makes it a crime for a person to engage in any kind of sexual activity with a child between those ages. It also makes it a crime to encourage or entice a child to participate in sexual activity, prostitution, and other related behavior. The defendant was placed on probation and ordered to register as a sex offender. His probation was revoked the following year when he was convicted on new charges for selling cocaine and trespassing. He was eventually sentenced to 18 years in jail after additional convictions for robbery, resisting arrest, and battery on a law enforcement officer.

The defendant eventually argued that his sentence on the lewd and lascivious battery charge was illegal because it required him to register as a sex offender. The trial court said the original sentence was legal, and instead it treated his petition as a request to be removed from the sex offender registry. A person seeking removal from the sex offender registry has to meet several criteria, including the requirement that he or she was under 18 at the time of the offense and no more than four years older than the victim. The law also requires that the victim not have been less than 13 years old at the time of the offense.

Although the judge said the defendant met the specific criteria for requesting the removal, the judge declined to do so. He cited his extensive criminal history following the lewd and lascivious battery conviction, including his violation of the probation terms in the original case and the 18-year prison sentence that the defendant was still serving.

Affirming the decision on appeal, the Third District said the judge acted within his discretion. “Because the record supports the trial court’s findings, we find no abuse of discretion,” the court said. As a result, the court affirmed the trial judge’s decision.

If you or a loved one has been charged with lewd and lascivious battery in 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.

More blog posts:

Hearsay Defense Doesn’t Work for Florida Man in Failure to Register as Sex Offender Case

Limitations Period Expired for Sex Crime Charge, Rules Florida Appeals Court

Florida Supreme Court Explains State Criminal Law on HIV Sex