Dear Members and Advocates,

This week’s update comes to you early because there are two points of clarification that we felt were important to make as quickly as possible.

During our monthly member call last month the topic was ‘removal from the Florida registry’ and we were talking about (a) removal under the Romeo and Juliet statute (943.04354) and (b) removal under 943.0435(11). A member called in and pointed out that certain offenses listed in the “post 2007” version of 943.0435(11) are ineligible for removal at all and implied that FAC should be advocating for laws that treat every person required to register the same. Perhaps because of our recent experience with Amendment 4 (restoration of voting rights), we are very sympathetic to this “othering”, so we took this comment to heart. When the ACLU endorsed a bill that pushed for voting rights for all ex-felons other than people who committed murder or a sex offense, we were hurt. How could they support this type of discrimination?

To be clear, FAC does not endorse the registration of ANY human being. We believe these registry laws are unconstitutional as applied to everybody on them. We believe residency restrictions don’t work for anyone, and we believe in the empirical research done by experts that finds even the most high risk former offender will not be high risk forever. That said; the current state of the law and practical experience is that someone with a “Romeo and Juliet” conviction has a much easier time coming off the registry and that the post 2007 version of the 943.0435(11) does exclude a list of offenses. We want everyone off the registry, but until that happens we want as many off as possible. We advocate for all registrants and our ultimate goal is to abolish the registry.

The second point of clarification is in connection with a post from last week about address verification. We removed (or responded to) comments from two members, one of which suggested not answering the door when law enforcement comes to perform an address verification, and the other pointing out that you are not legally required to even show your ID. Both comments are correct. Unless you are detained as a suspect (in a crime) you don’t need to show your ID to law enforcement (except for traffic related stops or when travelling) and there’s no obligation to answer your door at all. There’s even a case (Hines v. State, 881 So.2d 52 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004)) where someone was charged with a registration violation because law enforcement came out 5 times and couldn’t catch him at his registered address and he eventually won, the court ruling they actually have to catch you at a different residence, not just assume that because you’re not home whenever they come that you’ve moved.

The question becomes how uncooperative you want to be and how much of a headache you want to create for yourself and others. Florida Statutes require that, “County and local law enforcement agencies, in conjunction with the department, shall verify the addresses of sexual offenders who are not under the care, custody, control, or supervision of the Department of Corrections, and may verify the addresses of sexual offenders who are under the care, custody, control, or supervision of the Department of Corrections, in a manner that is consistent with the provisions of the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 and any other federal standards applicable to such verification or required to be met as a condition for the receipt of federal funds by the state.”

So in most cases the police are just doing their job, will come out, ask for an ID so they can confirm you’re the person they are supposed to be checking on and leave. Being cooperative to that extent is usually a quick way to dispense with the unpleasantries and prevent them from having to come back again and again and again to do something they are required to do. There is a distinction between officers who come out to identify and officers who come out to interrogate. Our post was intended to not allow yourself to be interrogated.

While it’s true that you don’t have to answer your door or show ID, remember that Mr. Hines had to be arrested and go to trial to prove that point! You are free to barricade yourself inside your home, but you probably don’t want your neighbors seeing a SWAT team come to your door daily or have a police car on your street surveilling you either. We also don’t want the legislature to have to pass an additional set of laws to address a subset of militant persons on the registry. At the end of the day, everyone needs to apply a certain level of common sense to what they do. We want our forum to be an exchange of productive information. If there are certain counties in which Sheriffs use some very aggressive and, as several motions to dismiss have suggested, illegal tactics to try and reincarcerate people on the registry, we want our members to be aware, be vigilant and be prepared to say “I do not want to answer any of your questions without an attorney present.”

And finally and not for the last time, please expect to be called by a person pretending to be a detective with the Sheriff’s office trying to lure you to the station or to purchase prepaid stored value cards to take care of a “warrant”, “missing DNA” or some other baloney. More and more registrants are getting these calls and we want to assure you that it’s a scam. These people want to steal your money, rob you, or assault you. It is just a matter of time until you get a call, so please be prepared, don’t get shaken, know that as convincing and authentic as they sound it’s a scam, and file a police report with your local police department as soon as you get off the phone with the scammers. Please share this information with others on the registry, those in your treatment program and your former treatment provider (so they can spread the information). We need to get this message out to the seventy-thousand on the Florida registry, but FDLE is unwilling to send the notice and at $0.50 postage, we shouldn’t have to spend tens of thousands protecting our population.

Sincerely,

The Florida Action Committee

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Reminders:

SPECIAL MEMBER CALL: The topic on “Telling Your Story” was rescheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday March 10 at 8pm ET.  Guest Speaker is Dr. Caren Neile, professor of Storytelling Studies at FAU. She will discuss the impact of telling your story, and how to be effective to reach different audiences.  Dial 319-527-3487 to join the call.

 

Dr. Neile will also conduct a 4-hour workshop in Apopka on Saturday March 28th and Delray Beach on Saturday April 25th. The workshops will prepare those who wish to have their stories videoed and shared in various public platforms.  To attend one of the workshops, RSVP to [email protected] or text name and phone number to 904-452-8322.

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SOME HEADLINES FROM THE WEEK

Inmates and Coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China, has killed more than 3,300 people and infected more than 95,000. More than 230 deaths have been reported outside of mainland China, including 11 in the US. There is no vaccine for the virus, and the Centers for…

Illegal Or Just Creepy? The Complicated History of Age of Consent

Our legal understanding of what the age of consent should be is shaped by the moral viewpoints on sexuality at any given time. Outdated concepts like the idea that statutory rape is only something men do to young girls have been swapped out in favor of the idea that…

NEED ALF/Skilled Nursing facilities taking registrants in Florida.

All, we have an URGENT need to identify assisted living facilities or skilled nursing facilities in Florida that take persons required to register. In Florida, people remain on the registry for life. That means that they don’t come off when they get sick or elderly….

Ban on sex offender appeal jail release passes Florida House

A bill that would bar judges from granting bail to someone appealing a conviction of a sex offense against a child is moving smoothly through the Florida Legislature. Rep. Tom Leek, R-Ormond Beach, introduced the bill after outrage last year led by Volusia County…

 

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