As of yesterday, Florida became one of the nation's toughest states for sexual predator penalties. The new law triples maximum sentences up to 15 years for child solicitation and child pornography. It also makes Florida the first state to criminalize the act of traveling to meet a minor for sex and requires sex offenders to register their email and instant messenger handles with authorities. The state will then share that information with social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook.
The Attorney General's office reported that Florida ranks fourth in the country in child pornography on computers and the Legislature wanted to make it clear that if you are caught, you're going to spend a substantial amount of time behind bars.
The new law classifies possession of child pornography as a second degree felony and promotion or distribution as a first degree felony. Increased penalties are also provided for "grooming", which is posing as a youth to gain a child's trust, and for specifically heinous pornography including victim’s less than 5 years of age, sadomasochistic abuse and sexual battery. Promotion or distribution of these types of pornography will get you 30 years in jail.
The state is also stepping up its school outreach program designed to help teach students how to remain safe while online. When you combine these new criminal penalties with the state's already enacted Jessica’s Law, Florida's lawmakers have made it clear to sex offenders "you are not welcome here" and we take the safety of our children seriously. We applaud their efforts.