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This is especially true at the local level in Florida, where counties and municipalities have been taking steps to expand the scope of their local sex offender ordinances.Florida has some of the most restrictive sex offender registration and sentencing laws in the nation.
Current law requires life-time registration for those who have been convicted of certain crimes.
These crimes include: If the sex offender has been released from incarceration, then he or she is required to register in-person with the local sheriff's department within 48 hours of establishing residency in the state.
These laws equally punish and stigmatize those who made a one-time mistake, as in the case of an 18-year-old who had consensual sex with his underage girlfriend.
Recently, there has been some backlash against the reach of these laws as more members of the public and government become aware of how overbroad sex offender registration regulations have become.
For example, State Attorney General Bill Mc Collum has expressed his concerns that some of the county ordinances restricting where convicted sex offenders may live have gone too far.
But for every person who raises a concern about the fairness and justness of current sex offender registration requirements, there are many more calling for the state to pass even harsher penalties.
The state reserves the sexual predator designation for the most dangerous offenders who have been convicted of a capital, life or first-degree felony sex crime or two or more second-degree felony sex crimes.Most would agree that requiring those convicted of molesting and abusing young children to register with local authorities has resulted in safer communities.Likewise, laws dictating where convicted child molesters may live and work have likely prevented numerous crimes against children.That being the case, some would argue that tighter regulation and stricter laws would yield even better results.But the truth of the matter is that the sex offender laws in Florida and other states go much further than just punishing those who have been deemed the most dangerous offenders.The court must issue a written finding designating a person as a sexual predator.