Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tightening the Noose.

Increasing Protections Against Sex Offenders Senate Bill 522 by Senator Grimsley requires sheriffs to refer prisoners who are serving sentences in a county detention facility for civil commitment proceedings if those prisoners are registered sexual offenders or sexual predators and have previously committed a sexually violent offense. The legislation also adds a state attorney, law enforcement officer and victim’s advocate as advisory members to the multidisciplinary team that currently evaluates offenders who are considered for civil confinement. Additionally, the bill expands requirements for DCF release notifications to include the sheriff of the county in which the person intends to reside. Senate Bill 524 by Senator Sobel requires a person be defined as a sexually violent predator and be subject to civil confinement after a finding by two or more members of a multidisciplinary team, and requires higher education institutions to tell students about a sexual predator’s presence on campus. Senate Bill 526 by Senator Bradley increases the length of sentences for certain adult-on-minor sexual offenses and also prohibits incentive gain-time for offenders convicted of certain sexual offenses. The legislation suspends (tolls) post-release supervision of offenders while in Department of Children and Families (DCF) custody as part of the civil commitment process and requires the court to order community supervision (split sentences) after release from prison for certain sexual offenses. Senate Bill 528 by Senator Evers requires registrants to report vehicle information, Internet identifiers, palm prints, passports, professional licenses, immigration status, volunteer work at a higher education institution, and other information. The legislation further strengthens current law by requiring registrants to provide information on vehicles they own and on vehicles they operate that are owned by any person who resides with the registrant. Senate Bill 528 was amended during today’s Judiciary Committee meeting to increase protections against sexual offenders who may seek to avoid registration requirements by obtaining a legal name change. Current law requires a criminal background check for petitioners seeking a name change. Today’s amendment strengthens current protections by requiring the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to notify the County Clerk of the Court if a petitioner for a name change is required, or has ever been required, to register as a sexual offender. Subsequently, the County Clerk of the Court is required to notify FDLE within two days of the finalized name change. FDLE will then communicate with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to ensure the appropriate registration requirements have been satisfied with regard to the petitioners new driver’s license or state issued identification card.