How imposing a fine avoids a sex offender registration requirement

May 10, 2020

In a recently published 2nd DCA decision, the Second DCA held that a fine that is imposed at sentencing that remains unpaid after having been released from prison shields a defendant from registering as a sex offender after being convicted of a sex offense. State v. James, _So.3d_, 45 F.L.W D842(2d DCA 4/15/2020). In Stave v. James,  the defendant was convicted of attempted lewd molestation and sentenced to a term of 15 years in prison and fined $10,000. When the defendant was released from prison the $10,000 fine was still outstanding and not yet paid. The defendant did not register as a sex offender and the State charged him with failure to register as a sex offender. 

The  2nd DCA affirmed the trial court’s dismissal stating that “under the plain language of sec. 943.0435(1), one becomes a “sexual offender” upon release from the sanction for a listed offense.” The statute then specifically lists out a fine as a sanction of the defendant’s crime that they must be released from before the sex offender designation applies to them. So even though the defendant had completed 15 years in prison he was still not released from his sanctions as there was still the outstanding $10,000 fine. So under the letter of the law as it stands the defendant will not qualify as a “sexual offender” for purposes of reporting and registration under sec. 943.0435 until he pays the fine.

If you or your loved one has been charged with a sexual offense, you need to hire an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney immediately. Call an attorney at KJ LAW today to discuss your case and legal remedies

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