Florida Court Discusses When Juveniles Are Required to Register as Sex Offenders

Juvenile residents of Florida may be charged with sex crimes, and although they are generally treated with more leniency than adult defendants, they may still face significant penalties if they are convicted. For example, if a juvenile defendant is convicted of a sex crime, in certain cases, he or she may be required to register as a sex offender. The District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District, recently explained the grounds for imposing a sex offender registration requirement on a juvenile, in a case in which the defendant allegedly violated the terms of his probation following a conviction for a sex crime. If you are a minor living in Sarasota and are charged with a sex crime it is imperative to meet with a knowledgeable Sarasota sex crime defense attorney regarding the potential penalties you face and what defenses are available to help you avoid a conviction.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the defendant was deemed delinquent for violating the terms of his probation, following a conviction for the lascivious or lewd molestation of a victim who was less than twelve years old. During the violation of probation hearing the court imposed a sex offender registration requirement on the defendant. The defendant subsequently appealed, arguing that the court erred in imposing the requirement. Specifically, he argued that the registration requirement was based on factual findings that were not made by the original sentencing judge and were therefore improper.

Sex Offender Registration Requirement

Under the Florida statute pertaining to the registration of sex offenders, a person will be deemed a sex offender if he or she has been adjudicated delinquent for committing one of the enumerated sex crimes if he or she was fourteen years old or older at the time of the offense. One of the crimes that require a person to register as a sex offender is lascivious or lewd molestation, if the court finds the molestation involved unclothed genitalia.

In the subject case, the court noted that under the clear language of the statute, the defendant was a sex offender, since he was fifteen at the time of the commission of the crime, and the court found that the molestation involved unclothed genitals. The court stated that the lower court was required to make written findings regarding the age of the victim, the age of the defendant, and whether the crime involved coercion or force, or unclothed genitals.

The court noted, however, that both the original sentencing judge and the probation violation hearing judge were the “court” under the terms of the statute. Thus, there was no basis for the defendant’s argument that the statutory findings required to impose a sex offender registration requirement must be made by the original sentencing judge. As such, the court affirmed the lower court’s order.

Speak with a Trusted Sarasota Sex Crime Defense Attorney Regarding Your Charges

If you are a juvenile living in Sarasota and are charged with a sex crime it is vital to retain an experienced attorney to develop a compelling defense to help you protect your rights and your future. Attorney William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is an aggressive Sarasota sex crimes defense attorney who will work tirelessly to help you obtain the best legal result available under the facts of your case. Mr. Hanlon can be reached through the form online or at 941-462-1789 to set up a consultation regarding your charges.



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