Tampa sex crimes lawyers are often asked about the specifics of Florida sex offender probation since it is so specific and intense. As I have told countless defendants, it is generally easier to defend someone accused of murder or another violent crime than a sex offense. Obviously sex offender probation is only utilized in cases involving some sort of sex based offense. While conditions for other probationers may appear very predictable and obvious, sex offender probation includes terms like barring the probationer from distributing candy during Halloween and/or wearing a Santa Clause outfit during Christmas.
First and foremost, sex offender probation is arguably the most difficult probation for a probationer to complete. Unlike other probations that may just include classes, curfews and/or community service, sex offender probation includes generally at least ten separate, distinct conditions.
Secondly, Florida Statute Section 948.30 governs sex offender probation and provides both the factors for the Court to consider and the required conditions. Unfortunately, the most efficient way to review the specifics of the sex offender probation statute is to simply review it. Specifically, the Statute states:
948.30 Additional terms and conditions of probation or community control for certain sex offenses.—Conditions imposed pursuant to this section do not require oral pronouncement at the time of sentencing and shall be considered standard conditions of probation or community control for offenders specified in this section.
(1) Effective for probationers or community controllees whose crime was committed on or after October 1, 1995, and who are placed under supervision for violation of chapter 794, s.800.04, s. 827.071, s. 847.0135(5), or s. 847.0145, the court must impose the following conditions in addition to all other standard and special conditions imposed:
(a) A mandatory curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. The court may designate another 8-hour period if the offender’s employment precludes the above specified time, and the alternative is recommended by the Department of Corrections. If the court determines that imposing a curfew would endanger the victim, the court may consider alternative sanctions.
(b) If the victim was under the age of 18, a prohibition on living within 1,000 feet of a school, child care facility, park, playground, or other place where children regularly congregate, as prescribed by the court. The 1,000-foot distance shall be measured in a straight line from the offender’s place of residence to the nearest boundary line of the school, child care facility, park, playground, or other place where children congregate. The distance may not be measured by a pedestrian route or automobile route. A probationer or community controllee who is subject to this paragraph may not be forced to relocate and does not violate his or her probation or community control if he or she is living in a residence that meets the requirements of this paragraph and a school, child care facility, park, playground, or other place where children regularly congregate is subsequently established within 1,000 feet of his or her residence.
(c) Active participation in and successful completion of a sex offender treatment program with qualified practitioners specifically trained to treat sex offenders, at the probationer’s or community controllee’s own expense. If a qualified practitioner is not available within a 50-mile radius of the probationer’s or community controllee’s residence, the offender shall participate in other appropriate therapy.
(d) A prohibition on any contact with the victim, directly or indirectly, including through a third person, unless approved by the victim, a qualified practitioner in the sexual offender treatment program, and the sentencing court.
(e) If the victim was under the age of 18, a prohibition on contact with a child under the age of 18 except as provided in this paragraph. The court may approve supervised contact with a child under the age of 18 if the approval is based upon a recommendation for contact issued by a qualified practitioner who is basing the recommendation on a risk assessment. Further, the sex offender must be currently enrolled in or have successfully completed a sex offender therapy program. The court may not grant supervised contact with a child if the contact is not recommended by a qualified practitioner and may deny supervised contact with a child at any time. When considering whether to approve supervised contact with a child, the court must review and consider the following:
1. A risk assessment completed by a qualified practitioner. The qualified practitioner must prepare a written report that must include the findings of the assessment and address each of the following components:
a. The sex offender’s current legal status;
b. The sex offender’s history of adult charges with apparent sexual motivation;
c. The sex offender’s history of adult charges without apparent sexual motivation;
d. The sex offender’s history of juvenile charges, whenever available;
e. The sex offender’s offender treatment history, including consultations with the sex offender’s treating, or most recent treating, therapist;
f. The sex offender’s current mental status;
g. The sex offender’s mental health and substance abuse treatment history as provided by the Department of Corrections;
h. The sex offender’s personal, social, educational, and work history;
i. The results of current psychological testing of the sex offender if determined necessary by the qualified practitioner;
j. A description of the proposed contact, including the location, frequency, duration, and supervisory arrangement;
k. The child’s preference and relative comfort level with the proposed contact, when age appropriate;
l. The parent’s or legal guardian’s preference regarding the proposed contact; and
m. The qualified practitioner’s opinion, along with the basis for that opinion, as to whether the proposed contact would likely pose significant risk of emotional or physical harm to the child.
The written report of the assessment must be given to the court;
2. A recommendation made as a part of the risk assessment report as to whether supervised contact with the child should be approved;
3. A written consent signed by the child’s parent or legal guardian, if the parent or legal guardian is not the sex offender, agreeing to the sex offender having supervised contact with the child after receiving full disclosure of the sex offender’s present legal status, past criminal history, and the results of the risk assessment. The court may not approve contact with the child if the parent or legal guardian refuses to give written consent for supervised contact;
4. A safety plan prepared by the qualified practitioner, who provides treatment to the offender, in collaboration with the sex offender, the child’s parent or legal guardian, if the parent or legal guardian is not the sex offender, and the child, when age appropriate, which details the acceptable conditions of contact between the sex offender and the child. The safety plan must be reviewed and approved by the court; and
5. Evidence that the child’s parent or legal guardian understands the need for and agrees to the safety plan and has agreed to provide, or to designate another adult to provide, constant supervision any time the child is in contact with the offender.
The court may not appoint a person to conduct a risk assessment and may not accept a risk assessment from a person who has not demonstrated to the court that he or she has met the requirements of a qualified practitioner as defined in this section.
(f) If the victim was under age 18, a prohibition on working for pay or as a volunteer at any place where children regularly congregate, including, but not limited to, schools, child care facilities, parks, playgrounds, pet stores, libraries, zoos, theme parks, and malls.
(g) Unless otherwise indicated in the treatment plan provided by a qualified practitioner in the sexual offender treatment program, a prohibition on viewing, accessing, owning, or possessing any obscene, pornographic, or sexually stimulating visual or auditory material, including telephone, electronic media, computer programs, or computer services that are relevant to the offender’s deviant behavior pattern.
(h) Effective for probationers and community controllees whose crime is committed on or after July 1, 2005, a prohibition on accessing the Internet or other computer services until a qualified practitioner in the offender’s sex offender treatment program, after a risk assessment is completed, approves and implements a safety plan for the offender’s accessing or using the Internet or other computer services.
(i) A requirement that the probationer or community controllee must submit a specimen of blood or other approved biological specimen to the Department of Law Enforcement to be registered with the DNA data bank.
(j) A requirement that the probationer or community controllee make restitution to the victim, as ordered by the court under s. 775.089, for all necessary medical and related professional services relating to physical, psychiatric, and psychological care.
(k) Submission to a warrantless search by the community control or probation officer of the probationer’s or community controllee’s person, residence, or vehicle.
(2) Effective for a probationer or community controllee whose crime was committed on or after October 1, 1997, and who is placed on community control or sex offender probation for a violation of chapter 794, s. 800.04, s. 827.071, s. 847.0135(5), or s. 847.0145, in addition to any other provision of this section, the court must impose the following conditions of probation or community control:
(a) As part of a treatment program, participation at least annually in polygraph examinations to obtain information necessary for risk management and treatment and to reduce the sex offender’s denial mechanisms. A polygraph examination must be conducted by a polygrapher who is a member of a national or state polygraph association and who is certified as a postconviction sex offender polygrapher, where available, and shall be paid for by the probationer or community controllee. The results of the polygraph examination shall be provided to the probationer’s or community controllee’s probation officer and qualified practitioner and shall not be used as evidence in court to prove that a violation of community supervision has occurred.
(b) Maintenance of a driving log and a prohibition against driving a motor vehicle alone without the prior approval of the supervising officer.
(c) A prohibition against obtaining or using a post office box without the prior approval of the supervising officer.
(d) If there was sexual contact, a submission to, at the probationer’s or community controllee’s expense, an HIV test with the results to be released to the victim or the victim’s parent or guardian.
(e) Electronic monitoring when deemed necessary by the community control or probation officer and his or her supervisor, and ordered by the court at the recommendation of the Department of Corrections.
(3) Effective for a probationer or community controllee whose crime was committed on or after September 1, 2005, and who:
(a) Is placed on probation or community control for a violation of chapter 794, s. 800.04(4), (5), or (6), s. 827.071, or s. 847.0145 and the unlawful sexual activity involved a victim 15 years of age or younger and the offender is 18 years of age or older;
(b) Is designated a sexual predator pursuant to s. 775.21; or
(c) Has previously been convicted of a violation of chapter 794, s. 800.04(4), (5), or (6), s.827.071, or s. 847.0145 and the unlawful sexual activity involved a victim 15 years of age or younger and the offender is 18 years of age or older,
the court must order, in addition to any other provision of this section, mandatory electronic monitoring as a condition of the probation or community control supervision.
(4) In addition to all other conditions imposed, for a probationer or community controllee who is subject to supervision for a crime that was committed on or after May 26, 2010, and who has been convicted at any time of committing, or attempting, soliciting, or conspiring to commit, any of the criminal offenses listed in s. 943.0435(1)(a)1.a.(I), or a similar offense in another jurisdiction, against a victim who was under the age of 18 at the time of the offense; if the offender has not received a pardon for any felony or similar law of another jurisdiction necessary for the operation of this subsection, if a conviction of a felony or similar law of another jurisdiction necessary for the operation of this subsection has not been set aside in any postconviction proceeding, or if the offender has not been removed from the requirement to register as a sexual offender or sexual predator pursuant to s. 943.04354, the court must impose the following conditions:
(a) A prohibition on visiting schools, child care facilities, parks, and playgrounds, without prior approval from the offender’s supervising officer. The court may also designate additional locations to protect a victim. The prohibition ordered under this paragraph does not prohibit the offender from visiting a school, child care facility, park, or playground for the sole purpose of attending a religious service as defined in s. 775.0861 or picking up or dropping off the offender’s children or grandchildren at a child care facility or school.
(b) A prohibition on distributing candy or other items to children on Halloween; wearing a Santa Claus costume, or other costume to appeal to children, on or preceding Christmas; wearing an Easter Bunny costume, or other costume to appeal to children, on or preceding Easter; entertaining at children’s parties; or wearing a clown costume; without prior approval from the court.
Aside from the sheer length of the Statute, it should be noted it requires the Court to consider a “risk assessment” from a qualified practitioner. As you can imagine, this is a critical step in the process since the Court will likely base many of its probationary terms on this “risk assessment” and testimony concerning same. It is worth noting that the Judge can in some situations essentially override the recommendation of the practitioner with their own judgment. Obviously, this is most often going to result in a serious detriment to the defendant since very few judges are going to recommend lower safeguards for an accused sex offender than the qualified practitioner believes is necessary. We have experience with considering and analyzing these risk assessments which have a major impact on the potential probationary terms of those accused of sex-based offenses. This experience is necessary as it permits us to effectively argue and present your case to the Court.
In closing, it is worth noting Hillsborough County has established a division solely for sex-based offense before Judge Tharpe. All cases in anyway related to sex-based offenses are directly routed to this division by the Clerk of Court. These cases are handled by specialized, aggressive Assistant State Attorneys in the division. Given the severity and seriousness of these offenses, they require aggressive, focused Tampa sex crime lawyers.
If you or someone you know has questions concerning sex-based offenses or sex offender probation, contact the Tampa sex crime lawyers of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation. We appreciate your time in reviewing our Tampa criminal defense blog. We apologize for the length of the Statute, but it is the most effective means of conveying the unique conditions of sex offender probation. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate our office.