Probation is often an attractive alternative to prison time for anyone convicted of a Florida sex crime. A recent case out of Florida’s Supreme Court, however, makes clear that probation sentences can come with some fairly restrictive terms and conditions.
Defendant was arrested in 2009 and charged with lewd computer solicitation of a child and traveling to meet a minor for unlawful sexual activity. He pleaded guilty to both charges. He also asked the judge for sex offender probation and house arrest instead of prison time. The judge rejected that request, sentencing Defendant to four years behind bars, followed by 11 years of sex offender probation.
The judge also made clear as a term of Defendant’s probation that he was barred from accessing the internet, possessing a computer or smartphone that has internet access, and having an email address. Defendant went back to court after serving his prison time. He appealed the probation portion of the sentence, arguing that the judge imposed additional terms on the probation, including a mandatory curfew, a ban on living within 1,000 feet of a school, child care facility, park, playground, or other place where children regularly congregate, and the completion of a sex offender treatment program. Defendant said the court couldn’t impose those restrictions because the judge didn’t announce them orally at the original sentencing hearing.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal disagreed. Although the judge wasn’t required to impose the additional conditions—set forth in Florida Statutes, Section 948.30—the appeals court said he had the authority to do so. The court also said the judge wasn’t required to announce the additional terms orally during the hearing. But the court recognized that at least one other state appeals court had found differently in another case. So it asked the Florida Supreme Court to weigh in.
The state supreme court sided with the Fourth District, mostly.
“While the conditions within section 948.30 are only mandatory for violations of the enumerated offenses, they can nevertheless be imposed, in whole or in part, on violators of other offenses as special conditions of probation if they reasonably relate to rehabilitation,” the court explained.
The court also noted that Defendant had the opportunity to raise objections after the sentence was imposed, via a so-called “rule 3.800(b) motion.”
“In order to raise a due process claim related to unpronounced special conditions of probation, a defendant must show that he was not provided with the written sentencing order in time to file a rule 3.800(b) motion,” the court explained. “Here, [Defendant] has not established or alleged that he did not receive the written order in time, and the record is unclear on this point.”
As a result, the court upheld the probation terms.
If you or a loved one has been charged with traveling to meet a minor or another 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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