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Commentary

Kat’s Blog: Applause

Applause for Tampa’s, Mr.________ and his win in two Florida courts.

One guy, living as a transient on the streets of Tampa since his prison release, representing himself, stands up against the state of Florida and has managed to mystify them with the flaws in their laws.

I won’t dwell on Mr. _______ offenses; you can read the full story on this website. He did his time, spent 12 years in prison for his convicted sexual offenses. When he was released from prison, the state of Florida assumed he would fulfill their requirement that he register as a “sexual offender”.  But there is a flaw in Florida’s law and this guy found it. More Applause.

A Judge in Hillsborough Circuit Court and a panel of three judges in Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed with Mr. _______ in that he “hasn’t been released from the sanctions imposed on him during his 2004 court case, which included prison and paying a $10,000 fine”. Until that fine is paid, Mr. _______, according to Florida’s own laws, “doesn’t fit the definition of a sexual offender”. How odd is it that the sentencing judge in Mr. ______ 2004 case referred to his sexual offenses as “heinous” and “egregious”, but here we are, 16 years later, with different judges telling the man he “doesn’t fit the definition of sexual offender” because he has yet to pay his $10,000 fine.  Seems it’s “always about the Benjamins” when it comes to the Registry.

In simple terms, Mr. ______ seems to have called Florida out on their use or in this case, misuse, of three simple words “or, a and the”, when interpreting the state’s sex offender laws. Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren called it a “massive loophole” in Florida law that needs to be fixed in the next legislative session. (Notice, when “the little guy” finds a loophole in a law it “needs to be fixed right away”, but when politicians find loopholes in the law, especially if it benefits their jobs or their wallets, there’s never a rush to “fix” them.) Mr. Warren expects that other defendants will try to use the rulings to bypass registering after prison and of course, why shouldn’t they? No one wants or deserves to end up on a one-size-fits-all, forever and ever registry, in Florida.

Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody weighed in with “the question of great public importance” this issue has for victims of sexual assault. Other victim advocacy groups support Moody including the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association which has requested time to file briefs in support of her, all in an effort to force Mr. ______ to register as a “sexual offender”.

Mr. ______ determination is inspiring. Released from prison in 2016, he refused to register quarterly as a “sex offender” and then began his court fight against being labeled. Whether he educated himself or received assistance in researching Florida law, we should applaud him for his tenacity. Too many of us sit back, some out of fear, others out of apathy, hoping, praying or expecting that someone else will do something to change the punitive registry laws.  Here’s a guy living on the streets who decided to take a chance and do something, to stand up for himself and against a label. And, so far, it’s paid off.

Florida legislators wrote the law for their state. Perhaps, in their hurry to push this “sex offender” law through, as often is the case, especially in an election year, they just happened to forget to dot all their I’s and cross all their T’s.  That’s on you Florida, not on Mr. ________.

So, while this case will probably work its way up to the Florida Supreme Court, Mr. _______ remains un-registered. Applause.

Mr. Warren will continue to contend that “we require sexual offenders to register so that moms and dads can see if any live on their streets.” A word Mr. Warren…. some of those “Ex-Offenders” are moms and dads too!

And then there’s Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who worries that “from a community standpoint, this means you’re going to have “a bunch of sex offenders” not registering, that this is a public safety issue”.

My dear sheriff, chickens come in flocks, geese in a gaggle and grapes in a bunch. “Sex offenders”, a politically incorrect and offensive term by the way, do not come in bunches. And with everything that’s happening in the public eye right now, it seems that the police are the “public safety issue”.

 

Join the discussion

  1. Marty

    Perhaps the legislator who drafted the law in the first place should be put on blast as a warning to other legislators about getting caught creating either unconstitutional or flawed sex crime laws. Getting called out will prove to the world that you are not qualified to serve the public and may establish fear in the minds of legislators who would otherwise draft such legislation just to win a few votes.

  2. Political Prisoner

    So he does not have to register until he pays his fine. That just proves it is all about money and not safety.

  3. James

    What makes this person’s actions even more courageous is that, to refuse to submit to registering certainly had to have come with an immediate price, arrest and the threat of re-incarceration. Perhaps being a transient in a very punitive state pushed him to the point of having nothing to lose, and everything to gain. I hope he wins and goes on to live a law-abiding life with the precious gift that’s just been handed to him.

    I also hope this ruling benefits many others. Florida lawmakers have been skirting the will of the people for some time now by refusing to grant voting rights to ex-felons based on the “fine” loophole (really not a loophole in the referendum, but the lawmakers decided to legislate one in), now they have their own loophole being thrown back at them. Their hypocrisy is being shown plainly for what it is.

  4. Saddles

    Wow Kat makes common sense in many ways and view’s but who can understand the ways and views of Government. Every individual has a different view and mindsets about policy’s, about judgements, about character. Sure many say its about the money and in many instances it very well is.. The other day I went down to the courthouse, mask on and wanting to find out about paying my fine on my traffic ticket. The police gave me the green light to enter and talk to those at the front desk about my fine.

    He uses a checker to check my forehead or if I had been exposed to contrivirus and gives me the go ahead. I enter the metal detector with my notebook, The secretary looks at my fine papers and says I have to pay it in full which means no installments or wait till the court date and talk to the judge in Oct. Actually all this fine and other stuff regardless of the offense is for public safety and obligation factors.

    Sure obligations are obligations but whats the determining factor. I guess the determining factor could be said “if it saves one life”, moral principal, or vain callousness, or of a responsiblity. Now I’m not too fimuliar on the clauses on human behavior but this ordeal in FL. sounds a bit much and something doesn’t add up.

    Yes, many on here are – in many ways right and its about the money factors in these ordeals in so many of these endeavors, although with the registry factor whats wrong is not always right in this mind bending ordeal in a lot of ways. If one can pay within reason and that should be it, but the man already paid with his jail term.

    Talk about paid in full justice. One spends 16 years in jail and then when he comes out of prison is on the streets trying to survive and homeless in many ways it can be stressful. Is it more of a moral obligation. Sounds like a type of greed in this game of justice in the form of dollars and cents and that right their show wrong. Who is holding the money pot? So I applaude you Kat as I enjoyed that article. Talk about squeezing blood out of a turnip in many ordeals. Talk about truth is stranger than fiction in many ways or should one say true justice is just as much an offender. So theirs your two wrongs don’t make a right.

    • LPH

      “He uses a checker to check my forehead or if I had been exposed to contrivirus [corona virus] and gives me the go ahead.” This in itself shows you are clueless. A temperature check proves nothing.

  5. Tim in WI

    Know the law. I know there are many, perhaps too many, but you must know them.
    The Law is the prosecutors tools but that works both ways. This guy is an asset.
    This is book worthy !material.

  6. Sanctioned_Still

    I just checked and I still have a $3000 fine as part of my sentence. I read the appeal and according to the judges’ decision, I wouldn’t have to register either.

    To bad Florida’s SOR is messed up in every other way, including life registration once you are in their system. Besides, it is probably temporary as the legislature will certainly fix that law next session.

    Still Kudos to him.

  7. Anonymous

    I have come to realize, my lawyer could have better defended me, but he wanted to stay in good favor with the courts. Enough said.

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