I’ve had numerous inquiries about registration requirements for those convicted of felonies within the State of Florida. Many folks, and apparently even some lawyers, believe the registration requirements only apply to those convicted of sex offenses. That is incorrect. Thus, while it is commonly known that certain sexual offenders or sexual predators must register with their local Sheriff’s Office, it is less widely known that there are registration requirements associated with non-sex felony offenses as well.
Florida Statute section 775.13 imposes a registration requirement for anyone convicted of any felony in the State of Florida. That section requires “convicted” felons to register with the sheriff within 48 hours of entering any county within the State of Florida. The required registration includes being fingerprinted and photographed. Furthermore, the registration requirement also applies to anyone convicted of a felony in any state or federal court outside the State of Florida.
Failure to register as a convicted felon in Florida is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in prison. However, if you’ve been convicted of a gang-related offense and fail to register, that is considered a third degree felony, and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
Now, here is where the law regarding the registration of convicted non-sex offense felony offenders gets very tricky. Under section 775.13 the term “convicted” means, with respect to a person’s felony offense, a determination of guilt which is the result of a trial or the entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld.
So, if you’ve received a withhold of adjudication in a felony case in the State of Florida, you and your lawyer were probably delighted, as you should have been. However, I would bet that you were not advised to nonetheless promptly proceed to your local sheriff’s office to register as a “convicted” felon. And, to further confuse you, even though section 775.13 requires you to register as a convicted felon even if you received a withhold of adjudication in your felony case, you nonetheless would not be considered a “convicted” felon triggering loss of your civil rights (your voting and gun possession rights).
Finally, for the good news. Notwithstanding the registration requirements of section 775.13 for those fortunate enough to have had adjudication of guilt withheld in their felony case, I’m not personally familiar with a single incidence of where that part of section 775.13 has been enforced. In mentioning that, however, I’m not recommending you ignore the registration requirements of section 775.13. And, the entire statute doesn’t apply to anyone who has been lawfully released from incarceration or other sentence or supervision for a felony conviction for more than 5 years prior to such time for registration.
Regardless of whether you were convicted or you received a withhold of adjudication in your Florida felony case, if you’ve been charged with failing to register as a convicted felon, you may have legitimate defenses that can be asserted by a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney to help you avoid jail or prison.