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Florida man's ID card falsely labeled him as a sex offender

Readers of this sex crimes blog have learned about the restrictions that may follow an individual who served time for a sex crime. The most obvious example is sex offender registration. However, readers may not have realized that state identification cards and driver’s licenses may also contain such identifying data.

According to a Florida law that passed in 2007, a seven-digit number on the bottom right of state driver’s licenses and ID cards provide a warning to others that the cardholder is a registered sex offender. Unfortunately, a recent story illustrates that more safeguards might be necessary before clerks at the Department of Motor Vehicles print this code on an applicant’s card.

According to the allegations, a man who shared the same first and last name as an actual sex offender applied for an ID card when he moved to Florida. However, he didn’t discover the numerical code on the bottom right corner of the card until he was denied entrance when attempting to visit his brother at a Navy base. It took five months before the DMV reissued him a new card.

A sex crimes attorney knows that criminal trials often involve a high degree of strategy. An attorney that has experience in presenting evidence to a jury and cross-examining witnesses will likely have first-hand knowledge of the how juries may sometimes base decisions not just on substance, but also on style.

However, not even the most astute strategy might overcome prosecutorial misconduct. Pursuant to precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court, prosecutors have a duty to disclose material and exculpatory evidence to a defendant and his or her attorney.

However, there have been recent media examples to the contrary, and today’s story shows just how biased public opinion -- and perhaps prosecutors, as well -- might be against anyone accused of a sex crime.

Source: Florida Times-Union, “Mistaken ID as 'sex offender' brings lawsuit,” Andrew Pantazi, Dec. 26, 2013

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