TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (FNN) – Representatives Charles Clemons and Linda Chaney presented a new Sexual Offenders Registration Bill that closes a loophole used by sexual predators to avoid registry during the Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee meeting Friday.
House Bill 193, cosponsored by Clemons and Chaney, amends the loophole within the current statute that prevented sexual offenders to register in the public database if they failed to pay their fines.
“This loophole allows a convicted sex offender to move in next door to you, to a daycare, or wherever children gather, as your children and grandchildren play in what you believe to be a safe space,” said representative Chaney. “It allows sex off to move freely, to prowl online without the stipulations of the registry like monitoring and residency restrictions.”
The legislation came after the ruling of a man who, after serving a fifteen-year sentence after molesting an eight-year-old girl in a public swimming pool, failed to pay a $10,000 fine. Therefore, he was not required to register in the sex offender database.
The court’s ruling stated, “the result may not be the one desired by the legislator, but without more, this court is bound by the plain meaning of the language in the statute, We are mindful of the state’s legislative complaint that a defendant could take advantage of this provision by simply failing to ever pay a fine in order to delay having to comply with the required compliance.”
There is no data on how many sex offenders have taken advantage of the loophole, but “I can tell that one unreported sex offender is two many,” said Chaney.
As of October of 2018, there are some 29,000 sex offenders registered in the state of Florida, a 53% increase from the start of the database in 2005.
The new bill was reported favorable unanimously in the Subcommittee. This is representative Chaney’s first bill since elected in 2020.
Juan Carlo Rodriguez is a politics and entertainment reporter for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org