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Florida Governor signs new bills, sex crime laws get more teeth

Sex crimes are a growing concern in Florida. To address this issue, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed four new bills that will add extra teeth to laws governing sex crimes. Scott stated that he wants the state to be the best place in the country to raise a family and believes that the new legislation is a step in achieving that goal.

The new legislation was inspired by the case of Cherish Perrywinkle, an eight-year-old who was kidnapped at a retail store, raped and killed by a sexual offender. The incident occurred less than a month after the man, a repeat offender, completed a prison sentence for a case involving a young girl. A photo of the eight-year-old was held behind the governor as he signed the bills into law.

These new laws, which are said to be among the toughest in the country, will require a mandatory 50-year prison sentence, which is twice as long as the sentence under previous law, to anyone found guilty of raping senior citizens, people with developmental disabilities and children less than 12 years of age. The new laws also altered the Jimmy Ryce Act, which requires violent sex offenders to undergo a psychiatric review when they end their jail sentences. Under these new laws, inmates are evaluated and those who are deemed too dangerous are to be confined to a high-security treatment facility.

The new laws will require offenders to undergo a more rigid civil commitment review. They also will be obligated to provide authorities with any online usernames they use, information regarding their passports, professional licenses, immigration status, vehicles they own and various other pieces of information when they are listed in a sex offender registry.

With the new laws in place, Orlando residents who are falsely accused of sex crimes have their work cut out for them. To help them fight the allegations, the assistance of an experienced criminal law professional may be necessary.

Source: The Tampa Tribune, "Sex crimes laws toughened," April 1, 2014

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