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Miami-Dade County Amends Local Sex Offender Laws

Posted on January 21, 2010 3:00 AM EST

Posted on Jan 21, 2010 12:00am PST
Miami-Dade County commissioners voted to amend local sex offender laws in an effort to alleviate the problems that are leaving sex offenders with no place to live with the exception of under bridges. The new ordinance will supersede portions of the old ordinance by loosening some portions of the local laws. Commissioners unanimously voted to create one standard across the entire county rather than the previously existing multiple laws handed down separately from various municipalities.

Although the standards have been loosened, Miami-Dade County made the changes maintaining a balance between the rights those convicted of sex offense such as sexual battery and lewd and lascivious conduct, and children who need protection from these offenders. Despite the changes, Miami criminal lawyers must make their clients aware of which sex offenses carry these restrictive bans before allowing their clients to enter into plea agreements with the state attorney's office. It is imperative that a Miami sex offense criminal lawyer not only plea bargain on behalf of their clients, but should also make charge bargaining a priority in an effort to avoid these restrictions.

The new Miami-Dade County ordinance repeals at least 24 laws that had previously enacted by separate municipalities. The ordinance create more workable exclusion zones for those convicted of certain sexual offenses such as sexual assault, sexual battery, lewd and lascivious conduct, statutory rape and child sex abuse. The new law maintains the 2,500-foot rule prohibiting certain sex offenders from living that close to schools. However, a new 1,000-foot rule now exists prohibiting certain sex offenders from living that distance from where children congregate. Civil libertarians applaud the new rule. However they still hold the opinion that any restrictions force many of the sexual offenders underground, thus making it more difficult for law enforcement to monitor them.

Others disagree with the change in the law. Miami Beach County Attorney, Jose Smith, intends to challenge the new law and was quoted as saying, "I haven't been satisfied that the county has the authority to do this and that the new law waters down their more strict city-wide policies." Miami Beach along with several other municipalities will challenge the new ordinance. Many local governments had previously imposed the 2,500 foot ban as a result of the rape and murder of nine-year old Jessica Lunsford in 2005. Others predict every municipality will adopt Miami-Dade Counties policies by the end of the year. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has become involved in the controversy and previously filed suit against Miami-Dade over its 2,500 foot rule. The organization has gone on record that the new ordinance is a step in the right direction, but argue for more changes in the law.

Miami-Dade OK's New Sex Offender Law, The Miami Herald, January 21, 2010.
Categories: Sex Offenses