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Sexual Predators in Florida

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Submitted By mastertony28
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This essay looks into Florida laws that prohibit predatory conduct. The state of Florida has sexual offenses codified into law and felony under the Sexual Predator Act. Some offenses under the Florida Sexual Predator Act may attract the death sentence, life in prison or fines. However, a judge may exercise discretion based on circumstances of a case when sentencing a sexual offender. However, some provisions of the Florida Sexual Predator Act are harsher than necessary. As discussed in this essay, very harsh sexual predator laws inhibit ability of sexual predators to reintegrate in the society. Thus, considerate sexual predator laws are highly encouraged.
Sexual Predator Prosecution in Florida The state of Florida has statutes that define predatory conduct. Thus, the Florida Sexual Predators Act defines offenses and legal circumstances that can qualify an offender as a sexual predator. However, not all sexual offenses are designated as predatory under Florida law.
What Types of Crimes are codified into Law, Misdemeanor or Felony?
The criminal justice process must rely on elaborate laws that define unlawful conduct (Wright, 2013, p.4). Thus, the Florida Sexual Predators Act codifies several sexual offenses into law and felony. There are three main ways to determine if a sex offender is a predator. Generally, Florida law designates any repeat sexual offender as a predator.
As per “one is enough” sexual predator offenses, a person who commits a qualifying sexual offense on or after October 1st, 1993 and gets convicted can be designated as a sexual predator by a court of law. On the other hand, “second strike” defines a sexual predator as a repeat sexual offender who has been previously convicted of a qualifying offense. Thirdly, a civil commitment proceeding may designate a violent sexual offender as a predator who is subject to registration.
Sexual offenses that can qualify a person as a sexual predator are categorized as felonies under Florida law. Thus, a sexual predator may be guilty of capital, life or first degree felony as per chapter 794 of Florida laws. For instance, a sexual battery offender who is 18 years old is guilty of a capital felony if his or her victim is under 12 years of age. Similarly, an 18-year-old offender who performs lewd or lascivious acts, such as touching inappropriately a minor, commits a life felony.
What are the Punishments for Sexual Offenses? Florida law provides for tough penalties for all forms of sexual crimes or felony violations. For instance, a sexual predator found guilty of a capital felony faces a possible death sentence or life imprisonment. On the other hand, a life felony carries a prison term of up to 40 years. However, a sexual offender convicted of a first-degree felony faces a 30-year prison sentence. All sentences go with the option of a fine.
For instance, an 18-year-old or older person who is found guilty of rape (sexual battery) faces life in prison if his or her victim is younger than 12 years. On the other hand, a sexual battery offender who is younger than 18 years faces up to 40 years in prison if his or her victim is younger than 12 years.
Additionally, a sexual offender who is qualified and designated as a sexual predator faces several civil consequences for what is left of his or her natural life. The Florida Sexual Predator Act requires persons designated as sexual predators to register with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). Moreover, a sexual predator has to keep authorities updated on his or her whereabouts all the time. Thus, Florida law exposes the life of a designated sexual predator to constant scrutiny and intrusion.
Are there Mandatory Punishments for Sexual Offenses?
Only crimes that meet the “three strike rule” criteria have mandatory sentences. Thus, a judge may have discretion when sentencing a defendant after conviction. In a case where a judge uses his or her discretion before sentencing a sexual predator, several mitigating factors may come into play. Thus, a judge may demonstrate flexibility when interpreting minimum sentencing requirements of Florida sexual predator laws. For instance, discretion may be necessary when sentencing a sexual offender whose victim is found to have initiated or provoked the offense in question.
Is Mere Solicitation of Improper Activities Enough for Prosecution?
Under Florida law, solicitation of improper activities is sufficient to prove predatory conduct. For instance, an act of luring or enticing a child into inappropriate behavior is a felony violation. In the same vein, procuring a minor for purposes of prostitution constitutes a crime. Moreover, it is a felony violation to perform lewd acts in a way to provoke or seduce an elderly or disabled person. Evidently, physical contact is not mandatory for an offender to be designated as a sexual predator. Quite obviously, intentions of the Florida Sexual Predator Act are very noble. For starters, sexual predator laws significantly check repeat offenses. It is acceptable for a society to have laws that inhibit repeat sexual offences in order to enhance public safety. However, some provisions of the Florida Sexual Predator Act may have harsher consequences than necessary.
For instance, the Florida Sexual Predator Act borrows from the Megan’s law, whose effect on sex offender reintegration is subject of reasonable questioning. As per the Megan’s law, states have a legal responsibility to publicize the whereabouts of sexual offenders who live within close proximity. As such, the Florida law requires persons designated as sexual predators to register with the FDLE. In turn, state authorities may inform neighborhoods about sexual predators who live nearby. Thus, sexual predators in Florida cannot live a normal life after serving their prison sentences and paying for their crimes.
The requirement for sexual predators to report their whereabouts to state authorities is intrusive and has far-reaching ramifications. For instance, publicizing sexual predators inhibits their chances of securing employment or acquiring homes. Thus, Florida sexual offender laws may have counter-productive effects for being harsher than necessary to persons who have been punished for their crimes (Levenson & Cotter, 2005). Moreover, publicizing sexual predators via the internet or other media, as permitted under Florida sexual offender laws, can undermine the justice process. For instance, family members may fail to report some sexual offenses for fear of exposing their loved ones to “social obloquy” (Periman, 2008).
Thus, it is acceptable for the society to seek to prevent repeat sexual offenses. However, sexual predator laws should not cause more harm than necessary to sexual offenders. As such, Florida sexual offender law should not stand in the way of offender reintegration. Conversely, sexual offender laws should be designed in such a way that they achieve corrective goals for sexual offenders. References
Levenson, J. K. (2005). The Effect of Megan’s Law on Sex Offender Reintegration.
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 21 (1), 49-66. doi: 10.1177/1043986204271676
Periman, D. (2008). Revisiting Alaska's Sex Offender Registration and Public
Notification Statute. Alaska Justice Forum, 25 (2). 2-5. Retrieved from
Wright, R. (2013). Introduction to Criminal Law and Procedure. Bridgepoint.…...

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