FL: Florida Faces Challenges On Sex Offender Registry

Source: miami.cbslocal.com 9/28/21

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) — Florida is facing two constitutional challenges from men who live in other states and contend they have been improperly kept on public sex-offender registry lists in Florida.

Oregon resident Moji Momeni filed a lawsuit Friday in Leon County circuit court alleging that his constitutional privacy and due-process rights have been violated because Florida continues to list him as a registered sex offender, though he stopped being required to register in Oregon last year.

Momeni, who was convicted in 2006 on sexual-abuse charges in Oregon, had to register in Florida because he lived in the state from 2012 to 2019.

Meanwhile, Leon County Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey is scheduled to hold a hearing next month in a constitutional challenge filed by a Pennsylvania resident, identified in court documents as John Doe, who had to register in Florida in 2015 because of a 10-day family vacation to Disney World.

The man, who pleaded no contest in 2002 to child-pornography charges, was released from Pennsylvania’s sex-offender registry in 2016 but has remained on the Florida registry. Like Momeni, he contends in a lawsuit filed last year that his privacy and due-process rights have been violated.

The cases center on a Florida law that requires sex offenders to register in the state and leads to information, including their pictures and names, being posted on a publicly accessible Florida Department of Law Enforcement website.

In both situations, the men say they should not be kept on the Florida registry when they have been removed from the registries where they live — and where the crimes occurred. In part, their attorneys point to a privacy clause in the Florida Constitution.

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(The Florida registry law) provides that a sexual offender who was designated a sexual offender in another state may be removed from the Florida registry if he establishes that his out-of-state designation has been removed by court order or by operation of law, Senior Assistant Attorney General William Stafford wrote in the motion to dismiss. However, this provision does not apply where the offender still meets the criteria for registration in Florida. Because plaintiff’s Florida registration was based on his Pennsylvania conviction, rather than on his designation as a sexual offender in that state, he continued to meet the criteria for registration, and could not, by law, be removed from Florida’s registry.

This paragraph has me confused. According to the first part, one can get removed from the FL registry if one’s out-of-state designation as a PFR has been removed by court order (such as expungement?) or by operation of law (such as timing out from the home state’s ML?). Then they essentially go on to say that the registration in FL is tied to the conviction in the home State. Umm, doesn’t that then render moot that first bit of escape clause? Talk about double-speak!

Or, are they saying that if one enters FL after having been released from registering in the home state, there’s no obligation to register in FL but if visiting FL prior to expiration at home, one is stuck and screwed?

This should be interesting. Would that mean that if the plaintiffs win, then anyone who has been removed from a registry, would then be able to go live there without having to re-register as many states require? Just spitballing here.

Another example of the database being used in a way that overruns traditional concepts of individual sovereignty and jurisdiction.

It has been 16 months of nothing concerning this case. Surely something will advance. Too many states do not take you off their registry after visiting and having to register.