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State takes steps to ease sex offender requirements

Being accused, charged and convicted of a sex crime can be a ruinous event for people across Florida. They can lose their freedom, family and career seemingly in the blink of an eye. This can be true whether a person is charged with a relatively minor sexual misconduct or a serious and violent offense.

Sex offenses are taken especially seriously by authorities, the media and the public, no matter what the details of the offense may be. This means that a person who had consensual sex with a minor who is just one or two years younger can face similar treatment as a person convicted of repeated molestation. Not only is this unfair, it can also cause unnecessary damage to a person's life. 

We only need to look as far as the sex offender registry to see how destructive it can be to lump all types of offenders on the same list. There are thousands of people on these registries who pose no threat to their community. They are not repeat offenders and many were convicted decades ago. Yet, there is little to distinguish these people from those who have committed much more serious crimes.

Lawmakers in one state are trying to fix this arguably broken system by proposing a tiered system to the sex offender registry. Under the terms of the proposition, only the most serious offenders would be required to register as a sex offender for life. Others would be able to have their name removed from the list after 10-20 years.

The reality is that the registry is not effective in the way people expected and many people on the list are not a legitimate threat. The sheer number of people on the list makes it very difficult for law enforcement to keep an eye on the worst offenders. 

Currently, state laws vary in terms of if and how long a person will be required to register as a sex offender. But no matter what state you live in, the fact is that being convicted of a sex crime and the requirement to register as a sex offender can be devastating, no matter how minor an offense might be. In order to try and avoid overly harsh punishment and inappropriate penalties, people facing charges should consider speaking with an attorney to craft an effective and strong defense. 

Source: SFGate, "Board wants to remove low-risk sex offenders from registry," Melody Gutierrez, May 25, 2014

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