Criminal Defense Law

Can I Purchase Property as a Sex Offender?

If you have ever searched for a new home, you know firsthand how overwhelming the process can be. Locating the ideal property can take several months. Once you find the home you’re looking for, you must then get through the mortgage application and approval process, as well as the closing.

For a registered sex offender in Florida, purchasing a home can be even more stressful and complicated. Specifically because state law prohibits registered sex offenders convicted of committing certain sexual crimes from living in certain areas. So while a sex offender is certainly free to purchase property, there are limits and restrictions on where you are actually able to live.

Florida state law mandates residency restrictions for sex offenders. Convicted individuals convicted are prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of the following types of property:

  • Schools
  • Day care centers
  • Parks
  • Playgrounds

The prohibition against living within 1,000 feet of these properties does not apply to all registered sex offenders. The statute is only applicable to registered sex offenders convicted of the following crimes:

  • Sexual battery under Florida Statute 794.011
  • Lewd or lascivious offenses committed upon or in the presence of persons less than 16 years of age under Florida Statute 800.04
  • Sexual performance by a child under Florida Statute 827.071
  • Computer pornography; prohibited computer usage; traveling to meet minor under Florida Statute 847.0135
  • Selling or buying of minors under Florida Statute 847.0145

Moreover, the offenses listed in Florida Statute 775.215 must have been carried out prior to October 1, 2004. Additionally, registered sex offenders convicted of the crimes enumerated in the statute are not required to relocate should a school, day care center, park, or playground be constructed within 1,000 feet of their property after the registered sex offender purchased the property.

Sex offender residency laws—like the Florida Statute—have been challenged in other states. For example, in California, a court recently ruled the state’s law prohibiting registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools and other properties was unconstitutional. Although the court decision only applies to San Diego County within California, it may be a step toward overturning similar laws elsewhere in the country.

Less Protection Against Housing Discrimination

Furthermore, federal and state laws may not protect registered sex offenders against discrimination from mortgage lenders, landlords, and property owners.

The Fair Housing Act, which is a federal law designed to protect individuals from housing discrimination, explicitly provides that sex offender status is not a protected class, nor does it qualify as a “disability” for fair housing purposes. For this reason, lenders, landowners, property managers, and landlords are not required to make reasonable accommodations for sex offenders, nor are they prohibited from discriminating against an individual due to the person’s sex offender status.

Can I Be Removed from the Sex Offender Registry?

Whether an individual can petition the court to be removed from the sex offender registry depends on whether the person was deemed a “sexual offender” or a “sexual predator.”

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there is no Florida law that gives sexual predators the right to petition the court to have the predator’s name removed from the sex offender registry.

By contrast, sexual offenders convicted of certain crimes may petition the court to be removed from the sex offender registry if at least 25 years have passed since their conviction, and they have not been arrested for a felony or misdemeanor during that time. Individuals can also seek a full pardon or post-conviction relief to remove their sex offender designation.

If you have been charged with a sex offense, it’s important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. When a person is convicted of a sex crime and required to register as a sex offender or predator, he or she must register for life. This can jeopardize your ability to find a job or a home. Don’t wait – speak to an attorney today.

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