A Way to Be Removed From Florida’s Sex-Offender Registry
A sex crime conviction will change your life forever. To be sure, the details of the crime determine the penalties you will face. There happens to be a Florida law that many people don’t know about –or misunderstand– that can be a lifesaver for certain individuals convicted of statutory sex crimes; it’s commonly referred to as the Romeo & Juliet law.
Understanding the Law
In 2007, the Florida Legislature addressed a huge problem facing many young people who were facing serious legal consequences as a result of participating in consensual sexual activity. High school kids who were engaged in sexual relationships were being lumped together with dangerous offenders who preyed on children. Under the law both groups faced the same stigma and lifetime on the sex-offender registry. Under Section 943.04354, F.S., the so-called Romeo & Juliet law, individuals convicted of a statutory violation are now able to petition the state to have their names removed from the registry under certain conditions.
Provisions of the Law
Prior to 2007, an 18-year-old who was involved in a consensual sexual relationship with a 15- or 16-year-old could be convicted of a statutory crime, and be listed as a sexual offender for more than 20 years. Since the Romeo & Juliet law was passed, while the charge might still stand, the offender doesn’t necessarily face two decades with that scathing scarlet letter on their name.
Which Charges Qualify?
A number of offenses qualify for registration relief if the criteria for petition are met. Those charges include:
- Sexual battery (794.011, F.S.);
- Sexual performance by a child (827.071, F.S.);
- Lewd or lascivious offenses in the presence of someone under the age of 16, or upon someone under age 16 (800.04. F.S.);
- Certain computer transmissions (847.013(5),F.S.).
To be sure, the Romeo & Juliet law does not legalize any of the above actions. Rather, it tackles the issue of sex offender registration requirements. Offenders may still face felony charges, incarceration, and/or probation.
Are You Eligible for Consideration?
Not every offender qualifies as a Romeo & Juliet offender. Very specific criteria must be met:
- The victim can be no younger than 14 years old;
- The offender may be no more than four years older than the victim at the time the offense occurred;
- The sexual encounter must have been consensual;
- There cannot have been any other convictions for sexual crimes.
If your scenario meets these criteria, even if you were convicted prior to 2007, you may be eligible to petition to have your name removed from the sex offender registry.
Charges of sexual crimes are generally emotionally charged, and the accusations can be both humiliating and crippling to your future. For experienced counsel, contact attorney Deric Zacca at the law firm of Deric Zacca, P.A. located in Fort Lauderdale.