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Florida municipality considers new sex crime ordinance

Leaders in a Florida municipality are considering a new city ordinance which some residents feel is too aggressive. The law would require sexual offenders to stay at least 300 feet from many places where children gather within city limits, including bus stops, libraries, parks and schools.

The local police chief supports the idea. However, other civil rights advocates, including a spokesperson from the ACLU, believe the ordinance will do more harm than good.

At least one Florida resident in attendance at the city's town hall meeting agrees with the latter viewpoint. The man announced to the attendees that he was a one-time sex offender, convicted for a sex crime almost 10 years ago.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement sex offender database, the man is registered as having downloaded child pornography in 2003. Yet the man denies this allegation, claiming the crime was an innocent mistake that happened after had been cruising the Internet and simply happened to stop at a bad website. His mistake cost him a part of his freedom, as the man is now a registered sex offender.

Many in attendance at the meeting had no idea of the man's status. Yet the man believes he is not alone, and that there are others who have been wrongly convicted of Internet sex crimes for one-time, innocent mistakes.

Perhaps due to the man's protests, local leaders decided to hear additional comments and bring the matter to the public before voting on it next month. If the law is passed, the man says that he will boycott local business. Notably, there already is a similar county law in effect.

As this story shows us, a conviction for a computer-related sex crime can have serious long term consequences. Governments at every level are constantly reevaluating their internet sex crimes laws-usually in favor of ever-stricter punishments. Those accused of such a crime should therefore be prepared to mount a careful defense against the charges, to ensure that their rights are protected throughout the duration of the case.

Source: NBC2news, "Sex offender ordinance sparks controversy," George Solis, Jan. 7, 2013

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