In a recent post, we informed readers of the sex offender database that several Florida universities have made available to students. However, university administrators have taken an even more aggressive step.
According to a recent announcement, the board of trustees for Edison State College, in southwest Florida, agreed to implement a permanent enrollment ban against convicted sex offenders, as well as some other types of felons. Although it is a public college, Florida law allows administrators to base enrollment decisions on an individual’s past behavior and actions — including a criminal conviction.
Certain factors might allow for an exception to that prohibition, such as the age when a person committed a crime and an individual’s proof of rehabilitation. However, a sex crimes attorney might agree that the move is a harsh blow for many sex offenders who might be attempting a fresh start.
In some case, sealing or expungement of criminal records might be available to a convicted sex offender. In such cases, an attorney might argue that a Florida college would not have grounds for excluding an applicant with a criminal conviction for a sex offense.
Of course, such relief is unlikely where a conviction resulted in mandatory sex offender registration. In addition, expungements and sealing are infrequent. As a result, a sex offender might need to consult with an attorney to explore additional options for starting over. Better yet, an individual arrested on sex crime charges might use this new enrollment prohibition as leverage in plea-bargaining with prosecutors, arguing for alternative sentencing so that a higher education will still be a future option.
Source: campusreform.org, “Florida University bans sex offenders, most felons from attendance,” Oct. 25, 2013