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Florida residency restrictions may discriminate against sex offenders

In a recent post, we discussed some of the challenges facing those charged or convicted of a sex crime in Florida. Even if never proven, such allegations can negatively impact an individual's work and social relationships. Those convicted of a sex offense will likely have a felony record, mandatory sex offender registration requirements, and face difficulties when they rejoin society. Today's post highlights another such obstacle.

Perhaps nothing is so fundamental to the American sensibility as the concept of a home, or a space to call one's one. Yet many Florida municipal and county laws impose residency restrictions on convicted sex offenders, banning them from living within 1,000 feet or another specified distance of schools or places where children congregate. As a result, some criminal defense advocates caution that homelessness might be a very real concern for some sex offenders.

Nor is Florida alone in this bias. A recent article profiled a national trend of neighborhood communities opening tiny parks -- some on patches of grass or land less than 30 by 30 square feet -- to utilize residency restriction laws and drive sex offenders away. In fact, at least one playground installation company has begun advertising this option.

With so much at stake, anyone charged with a sex crime in Florida should take care in choosing a criminal defense attorney. An attorney that specializes in sex crimes will know how to investigate crime scene techniques and other evidence for procedural or other flaws that may invalidate the evidence. A sex crimes lawyer will know how to prepare the strongest defense.

Source: The New York Times, "Neighborhoods Seek to Banish Sex Offenders by Building Parks," Ian Lovett, March 9, 2013

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