|February 3, 2005
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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TALLAHASSEE - Attorney General Charlie Crist hailed today's Florida Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of the Florida Sexual Predators Act, which requires sexual predators to comply with various registration and notification requirements when they are released from prison. The statute, Florida's version of a well-known "Megan's Law," had been the subject of conflicting appeals court decisions prior to today's Supreme Court ruling, which embraced legal arguments put forth by the Attorney General's Office of the Solicitor General.
"This decision by the Florida Supreme Court allows the State to better protect its most vulnerable citizens," said Crist. "Individuals can choose not to become sexual predators and avoid being placed on a list of offenders, which is more choice than they give the innocent victims of their vile actions."
Under the statute, the only determination to be made by a trial judge before designating a person a "sexual predator" is whether the defendant had the prerequisite criminal conviction. The Supreme Court resolved two challenges to the statute brought by defendants Everett Milks and Ferman Espindola. The 3rd District Court of Appeal (based in Miami) ruled in favor of Espindola in January 2003, concluding that the law is unconstitutional because it fails to give judges discretion in determining whether an offender poses an actual threat to the community. However, four months later the 2nd District Court of Appeal (based in Lakeland) ruled against Milks by declaring that the statute does not violate procedural due process or constitutional principals of separation of powers.
The Supreme Court resolved the conflict between the two intermediate courts. Affirming the constitutionality of the statute, the justices wrote: "The Act is an exercise of the public-policy-making function of the Legislature to declare that persons who have been convicted of certain offenses should be designated as 'sexual predators' and should be subjected to the registration, public-notification, and other requirements of the Act."