What is the difference between a sexual offender and a sexual predator? How do the laws in Florida address each? Let’s take a closer look.
According to Florida law, a sexual offender is someone convicted of, or who has pled no contest or guilty to, a sex offense involving a minor. He or she has served the sanction imposed whether it was a fine, incarceration or probation and released. A person is considered a sexual offender in the state if he or she had been convicted of certain offenses either in Florida or elsewhere. Some of these qualifying convictions for adults include:
- Kidnapping, false imprisonment or luring or enticing a minor child when the offender is not the victim’s parent or guardian.
- Human trafficking, procuring a person under the age of 18 for prostitution, and selling or buying of minors into sex trafficking or prostitution.
- Sexual battery.
- Video voyeurism.
- Computer pornography, transmission of child pornography by an electronic device, and transmission of material harmful to minors to a minor by an electronic device.
This is not a complete list of offenses under Florida statutes. A complete list of sex offender laws and qualifying crimes can be found on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) website.
A person is considered a sexual predator if they are a repeat sexual offender, and/or if they use physical violence in the commission of their offenses. The state considers sexual predators that prey on children a serious threat to public safety. The laws are structured to address concerns that sexual predators are likely to use physical violence and to repeat their offenses.
A predator designation is the result of a person getting convicted of a first-degree felony sex crime, or two second-degree felony sex crimes within a 10 year period. The court must issue a written order that finds for predator status.
Laws Pertaining to Sexual Offenders and Sexual Predators
Here in the State of Florida, the law requires both sexual offenders and sexual predators to register their current address with the FDLE or their local sheriff’s department. This law was enacted so these officials would know where these sexual offenders and sexual predators reside.
Many have the false belief that there are state laws that govern where a sexual offender or predator may live. These residency laws are actually enacted by local jurisdictions. These local residency laws will be enforced by local law enforcement using the sexual offender data base. Some restrict how close these offenders can live to schools and playgrounds.
The state does however, have laws that can limit activities of sexual offenders. Offenders convicted of certain crimes for example, may not be allowed to work or volunteer in environments where they would have contact with children.
The Offender and Predator Database
The FDLE maintains a searchable database of sexual offenders and predators in the state. Many are surprised to learn the amount of information that is available from the site. Here, you can not only search offenders by name, but by city and neighborhood. There are options for searching for offenders and predators including which ones are enrolled, employed, or volunteering at a college or university in the state. It even goes a step further by providing e-mail addresses and instant message names registered to sexual offenders and predators. The state of Florida also uses the site to solicit help in finding sexual offenders and predators that it has lost track of.
In closing, the difference between sexual offender and a sexual predator is the severity or frequency of the offense committed. Predators are considered more dangerous due to circumstances surrounding their crime. The bottom line is while not all sex offenders are considered sexual predators; all sexual predators are sexual offenders.
If you have questions about laws in the State of Florida, contact us. We’re the William Hanlon Law Offices in Tampa, Florida.