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How to Get Removed From a Sex Offender Registry

Posted on Wednesday, January 25th, 2023 at 1:12 pm    

If you are a registered sex offender, you may wonder if there is a way to get removed from the sex offender registry in Florida. The circumstances in which you can do so are limited. However, if you meet the legal requirements, there are steps you can take to have your name removed from the registry. This blog post will outline the process for removing your name from a sex offender registry. 

What Is the Sex Offender Registry?

The sex offender registry lists individuals convicted of certain sex offenses who must register with local law enforcement agencies. The information on the registry can vary, but offenders must generally provide their name, age, photograph, address, phone number, and social security number. The registry can also require that you list tattoos or other identifying marks, fingerprints, and palm prints.

Who is Required to Register in Florida?

In Florida, anyone convicted of certain sex offenses must register. This includes crimes such as child pornography, sexual battery, lewd and lascivious offenses, voyeurism, and more, according to Florida Statutes, Section 943.0435. As a registered sex offender, you must regularly report to the county sheriff. Failure to do so can lead to serious penalties.

Options for Removal From a Florida Sex Offender Registry

A sexual predator generally must register in Florida for life. However, depending on the nature of the offense, there are a few ways to potentially remove your name from the sex offender registry.

  • “Romeo and Juliet” provision: Offenders who received convictions at a young age may apply for removal if they meet the following conditions:
    • The victim was between 13 and 17 years old.
    • The victim was not more than four years younger than the offender. 
    • The sexual conduct was consensual. 
    • There is no other qualifying sex crime on the offender’s record.
  • After 25 Years: If it has been 25 years since the completion of your sentence, and you have received no further convictions, you may be able to apply for removal from the sex offender registry. It depends on the nature of your previous conviction.
  • Full Pardon: A full pardon from the state allows you to remove your name from the sex offender registry. 
  • Out-of-State Designation of Sex Offender Removed: If you are no longer living in Florida but have been convicted of a sexual offense in the state, you may be eligible to remove your name from the registry if you are listed as an out-of-state offender in another jurisdiction. 
  • Conviction overturned on appeal: If you received a conviction of a sex crime in Florida, but it was subsequently overturned on appeal, you can petition for removal from the registry.

Benefits of Being Removed 

Being removed from a sex offender registry can bring many benefits. It can help restore one’s reputation and make it easier to get jobs, housing, and other opportunities that would otherwise be denied due to a criminal background. Removing your name from the registry also allows you to avoid having your name and picture posted on public websites, reducing the chances of being harassed or targeted by members of the public. These are just some of the potential benefits that can come from having your name removed from the sex offender registry.

Crimes Eligible for Removal

Under Florida Criminal Code Section 943.04354, only certain crimes are eligible for removal from the sex offender registry. These crimes include sexual battery, lewd or lascivious offenses committed in the presence of persons less than 16 years of age, sexual performance by a child, computer pornography, and traveling to meet a minor. To be removed from the sex offender registry, you must meet all of the requirements set forth by the state.

How a Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer Can Help

A sex crimes defense attorney can provide valuable assistance to those seeking removal from a sex offender registry. A criminal defense attorney can assess your case, advise you on which options may be available for removal, and help guide you through the necessary steps and paperwork for removal from the registry. Additionally, a criminal defense lawyer will represent you in court if necessary, protecting your rights throughout the process.

Speak With a Pensacola Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges or would like to get removed from the sex offender registry, consult with an experienced Pensacola sex crimes defense lawyer. At The Morris Firm, our criminal defense lawyers have the knowledge and expertise to provide effective legal representation. We are committed to protecting your rights and defending your freedom. Contact us today by calling (850) 503-2626 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.

What Is a No Contest Plea, and How Can It Help?

Posted on Tuesday, November 1st, 2022 at 4:48 pm    

While “guilty” and “not guilty” are two common pleas in criminal cases, a third “no contest” plea is also possible in certain situations. Today, we’ll discuss what a no contest plea is, when you could enter it, and why your lawyer may suggest it.

What Is a No Contest Plea?

judge no contest pleaThe formal name for a no contest plea is “nolo contendere,” which is Latin for “I don’t wish to contend.” By pleading no contest, the defendant does not admit to the offense they’ve been charged with. However, they also don’t dispute the facts of the case.

Florida’s courts will generally view a no contest plea similarly to a guilty plea. After hearing a no contest plea, a judge must ensure the following:

  • The plea has a factual basis.
  • The defendant understands the charges against them and the penalties they carry.
  • The defendant understands the consequences of the plea and feels that entering it is in their best interest.
  • The defendant is not entering the plea under duress.
  • The defendant understands that anything they say could be used against them.
  • The defendant waives their right to have a trial.
  • The defense team is unaware of any physical DNA evidence that could acquit their client.

A no contest plea will not be final until the judge completes their review. If they approve of the plea, they will issue a conviction, and the case will proceed to sentencing. Further, prosecutors can also treat the plea as a prior conviction, according to a 2005 ruling of the Florida Supreme Court.

When Can Someone Plead No Contest?

No contest pleas often appear as part of a plea deal. In exchange for a defendant pleading no contest, they may face a lesser charge that carries a more lenient sentence.

Bear in mind, however, that prosecutors often want a defendant to admit responsibility as part of a plea deal. Since no-contest pleas don’t involve any admission of guilt, they may prefer or require that the defendant make a guilty plea instead.

Your lawyer could recommend a no contest plea if they determine you do not have a strong defense, despite their best efforts to build one.

How Can a No Contest Plea Help?

no contest pleaPleading guilty and pleading no contest will have the same ramifications in a criminal case. They differ in how each plea affects related matters in civil court, such as personal injury, malpractice, or wrongful death lawsuits from victims of the crime.

Judges or juries in a civil case might apply the negligence per se doctrine to determine a verdict. A plaintiff may claim that you violated a law meant to protect them, and the court could admit a related conviction as evidence. If the plaintiff shows that the violation led directly to their injuries and losses, they might receive a favorable verdict, and you would be responsible for paying damages.

If you plead no contest, civil plaintiffs cannot use that plea against you and argue that you are guilty of the offense. They must work harder to show that you were at fault for their losses, then tie that evidence directly to their claims.

When Is a No Contest Plea Not Recommended?

Some situations where a no contest plea would not benefit a defendant include the following:

  • The court is unlikely to consent to the plea – If you plead no contest, the court is not obliged to accept it.
  • The judge would react unfavorably during sentencing – Some judges will consider whether a defendant accepted responsibility as they decide on a sentence. They may, therefore, issue a harsher punishment for no-contest pleas than they would for guilty pleas.
  • There is enough evidence to support an acquittal – Remember that pleading no contest has the same consequences as pleading guilty. If you have a strong defense, pleading no contest wouldn’t make sense. Instead, your lawyer will advise you to enter a not-guilty plea and proceed with a trial. Further, if a judge determines that there is significant evidence in your favor, they should not accept a no contest plea.

Consult a Pensacola Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’ve been charged with a crime in the Florida panhandle, it’s in your best interest to secure an experienced counsel as soon as possible. The Pensacola criminal defense attorneys of The Morris Firm have handled over 3,500 cases, giving us deep knowledge of Florida’s justice system and the tactics necessary to build solid defenses. For a free case review, contact us at (850) 503-2626.

How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?

Posted on Thursday, September 1st, 2022 at 4:44 pm    

When you’re facing criminal charges, you might wonder how to proceed. First, you should speak with an experienced defense attorney about your case as soon as possible. Each case is unique, and the defense required and the time the case will take depends on many elements. Because of these variables, there is no set cost to hire a defense lawyer. Consider the following when you are choosing an attorney.

What Affects How Much My Case Will Cost?

criminal courtroomAn experienced defense lawyer knows what to expect based on their many previous cases. There will generally be a range of expected costs that varies due to many factors unique to each case. These include:

  • Whether the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony — representation for misdemeanor charges will typically cost less than felonies. This is because felony charges often involve substantial pretrial preparation, additional legal research, and a higher number of court appearances.
  • The defendant’s prior criminal record — this can affect an individual’s opportunity for a plea bargain. Legal costs may be lower when a plea deal is reached since the overall time to reach resolution is reduced.
  • Whether the case requires hiring expert witnesses — the cost to hire an expert witness may be hundreds of dollars per hour. In addition to the time they spend testifying in court, their costs may include an initial case review, an investigation, a written expert opinion, and expenses for travel, including travel time.
  • The attorney’s level of experience — an attorney who has less experience may charge less because they are eager to take on clients. An experienced attorney will be in greater demand, which impacts how much it costs to hire them.

Other factors that impact legal fees include the complexity of the case and whether the case goes to trial.

When you meet with a defense attorney for an initial consultation, they will review the specifics of your situation. Based on this, they will provide you with a preliminary estimated cost to handle your case.

Can I Save Money by Using a Public Defender?

You do have the option to be represented by a public defender instead of by a private attorney. However, before you choose to go this route, it’s important to be aware of several things that can significantly impact how your case may turn out.

Public defenders have often handled fewer cases than experienced private lawyers. This means they may be less familiar with the specific charge you are facing. It may also mean that they lack the experience to understand how to pursue the most favorable outcome for you.

In many situations, public defenders have a high caseload. This means that they can only devote so much time to each client since they are handling so many cases. A private lawyer typically has a greater depth of resources to draw upon as they build a strong defense for you.

In addition, you have no way of knowing in advance how your experience with a public defender may go. As your case develops, you may believe that you are not being served well. However, it’s unlikely that you will be assigned another lawyer. There are exceptions in certain situations, such as if your current lawyer misses deadlines.

In contrast, a private lawyer is directly invested in taking care of their clients. They know that they must serve their clients well to stay in business.

Avoid Choosing a Lawyer Based on Lowest Cost Alone

hiring criminal lawyerAll defense lawyers are not equal. With so much on the line, it’s critical to evaluate an attorney before you decide. Two major aspects to consider are their recent case results and the testimonials of their prior clients.

An attorney’s case results will demonstrate their experience. When you are seeking the most favorable outcome in your case, you need a lawyer who has a proven track record of achieving this for their clients. An attorney’s client testimonials will give you an idea of what to expect if you hire this attorney.

Contact The Morris Firm Now

If you have been charged with a crime in Florida, this can be a terrifying time. You might wonder what happens next and how this charge will affect your freedom and your future. You do not have to face this situation alone.

Call us today at (850) 503-2626 to speak with a Pensacola criminal defense attorney from The Morris Firm about your case. You can also submit a contact form to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. We are ready to fight for you.

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Five Reasons Why You Do Not Want a Public Defender

Posted on Friday, July 1st, 2022 at 2:34 pm    

If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. You may be wondering what to do next and whether you should use a public defender. This can seem reasonable, though you should be aware that there are significant differences between public defenders and other criminal defense attorneys.

In fact, public defenders often believe that they are not on even footing with the prosecutors they face in court. This is due to a report by the New York Times from June 2022, which states that hundreds of lawyers have recently left the New York public defender offices. Before choosing to use a public defender to take on your case, you should be aware of several specific considerations.

Public Defenders Are Often Less Experienced

Many times, a public defender may be someone who recently graduated from law school. They may have little experience defending people against criminal charges. They may be unfamiliar with how litigation for certain cases works, and they may be ineffective at presenting convincing arguments to a judge or jury.

When you use a public defender, you will not be able to review their depth of experience. This is not in your best interest. You need an attorney who has successfully defended clients many times before.

public defender cons

Public Defenders Are Frequently Overloaded and Underpaid

Due to their high caseload, they may be spreading themselves too thin. This means that you and your case may not get the attention you deserve. Because of this, they may be more interested in getting your case closed than they are in making sure you get the best possible outcome.

You need an attorney who will do whatever is necessary to build the strongest defense possible for you. For this to occur, they need to be able to devote sufficient time and focus on your case. You also want someone who is motivated to do their best, rather than being frustrated in a position where they are not adequately paid for their skills and effort.

A Public Defender May Be Less Invested in the Results of Your Case

A private attorney knows that they must get results for their clients if they are going to build their business. Without this, their reputation will suffer, and they will probably eventually go out of business. However, a public defender does not have to contend with the same consideration.

A public defender will keep getting more clients, no matter what their track record of success is. You need someone who has a demonstrated history of getting results for their clients. You want to be able to review the first-hand testimonials of their prior clients so you can know how their experiences were.

A Public Defender Will Likely Remain Your Attorney, Regardless of How Your Case Develops

The lawyer assigned to your case is probably going to stay on your case, no matter what happens. As your case progresses, you may feel that you are not properly being represented. This will likely not get a new attorney assigned to your case. However, there are some situations in which you could get a new lawyer assigned. These may include missing deadlines, attempting to force a plea deal, ignoring evidence, and losing documents.

public defender

Public Defenders Usually Don’t Have the Same Depth of Resources as a Private Law Firm

Building the strongest possible case for you will typically require more resources than a public defender can access. They will likely have a relatively small budget that limits their options.

There will be a significant amount of evidence that needs to be collected and analyzed. Often, building a strong defense includes interviewing witnesses, hiring investigators, and consulting with experts to testify on your behalf. You need the depth of resources that an experienced and established law firm can bring to bear on your case.

Contact The Morris Firm Now

If you’ve been charged with a crime in Florida, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your rights, your future, and your freedom are all at stake. This can be a terrifying time, but you do not have to face this alone.

Call the Pensacola criminal defense lawyers of The Morris Firm today at (850) 503-2626 to discuss your case with our legal team. You can also submit a contact form online, and we will be in touch as soon as we are able. We can help you pursue getting your charges dropped or reduced, as we have done for many prior clients who gladly share their testimonials. Call us now.

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