As we dig deeper into the changes to SORNA and the independent registration obligations under state and federal law, we are becoming more concerned.
Originally, we indicated that since Florida has implemented “SORNA on steroids” the federal obligations are not as harsh as our obligations in Florida. That’s true. While the proposed federal definition for a temporary residence is 7 days, Florida’s is 3. While the feds give you three business days to comply with a registration obligation, Florida gives you 48 hours (regardless if the reporting location is even open). And so on…
So while you comply with Florida laws, in most cases you will be compliant with the Federal laws and you should be good to go.
The reason we need to be concerned are the consequences if you don’t comply. And remember, there is no requirement that a lapse in compliance be knowing or intentional… don’t expect to be sent a letter with a plain language list of all the new requirements you are subject to. Somehow they expect that you just magically know what they are. The consequences of a registration violation under the federal laws are MUCH harsher than the already harsh sentence under Florida Law. In Florida a failure to register can get you up to 5 years in prison, in the feds it’s up to 10 years (18 U.S. Code § 2250). In Florida a registration violating has a mandatory minimum six months probation, but in the feds there is a mandatory minimum term of supervised release of five years but up to lifetime! (18 U.S.C. § 3583(k)).
Especially for those who have never committed a federal offense to begin with, the potential of spending 10 years in a federal prison and a lifetime on probation for a technical violation of a set of laws that are not crimes for anyone else (other than someone on this registry that’s not even supposed to be punitive to begin with), for which no notice is given and which can change at any time and be applied retroactively, should scare the crap out of anybody reading this! …or, come to think of it, how about the people who are not reading this and have no clue what’s going on?
Between now and October 13th, please consider submitting a comment* at https://beta.regulations.gov/document/DOJ-OAG-2020-0003-0001
*Please, please, please make sure your comments are respectful and well reasoned. It will be hugely counter-productive to submit comments that are rude or disrespectful.