A conviction comes with various punishments, including prison time and/or fines. What many people don’t know is that if they’re convicted of a felony, they are subject to an additional requirement of registering as a felon. Failing to do so could, depending on the circumstances, result in a misdemeanor or felony charge.
What Is Florida’s Convicted Felon Registration Requirement?
Under Florida Statute 775.13, if you’re convicted of a felony, you must register with the sheriff’s department in which you live. You must fulfill this requirement within 48 hours of entering the county.
When you register with the sheriff, you must:
- Be fingerprinted;
- Be photographed;
- List the crime you were convicted of;
- Provide the location of the conviction;
- State any sentences you were subject to;
- Give your name and any aliases;
- Provide your address; and
- State your occupation
If you were convicted of a gang-related offense, you would be identified as such.
What If I Was Convicted Out of State?
The felon registration requirements go for any felony-level offense you were convicted of regardless of where it occurred. Thus, if you were convicted in another state or of a federal crime that is considered a felony in Florida, the registration requirement would be triggered.
What Is Considered a Conviction?
One of the things that makes the felon registration requirement confusing to some is the definition of "conviction." When most people hear this term, they think of someone being found or pleading guilty, and that is part of how "conviction" is defined for the purposes of the registration requirement.
Florida Statute 775.13 provides that a conviction is:
- A determination of guilt
- A guilty plea
- A plea of nolo contendere
The law goes on to say that a person is considered "convicted" regardless of whether adjudication is withheld. Therefore, a judge might not have entered a formal conviction, but the judgement still exposes you to the felon registration requirement. This is interesting because you might be lawfully allowed to deny that you’ve been convicted of a crime if adjudication is withheld. However, you would still be required to report your information to the sheriff’s department.
Are There Exceptions to the felon Registration Requirement?
In some instances, you may be exempt from having to register as a convicted felon.
- Having had your civil rights restored
- Having received a full pardon for the offense
- Having been released from your sentence or supervision for at least 5 years
- Being on parole or probation under the supervision of the U.S. Parole Commission
In some cases, you may not be required to register as a convicted felon, but that does not mean you are free from registering at all. For example, if you were designated a sexual predator, sexual offender, or career offender, you don’t have to register as a felon, but you do have to register as required by law for your designation.
What Happens If I Don’t Register?
As mentioned earlier, failure to register as a convicted felon is a crime. Generally, it is a second-degree misdemeanor, which means, if you’re convicted, you could be sentenced to up to 60 days in jail and/or fined up to $500.
If your felony conviction was for a gang-related offense, the penalties for failure to register increase. In this case, it’s a third-degree felony that can lead to a prison term of up to 5 years and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
The way to avoid the convicted felon registration requirement is to fight your charge and work toward a favorable result, such as having it dismissed or achieving a "not guilty" verdict.