Thursday, January 21, 2010

Miami FL Changes Sex Offender Restrictions Miami-Dade further restricts sex-offender laws, eases others

Sex offenders and predators will be further restricted in Miami-Dade County, but possibly face lesser residency restrictions in other cities, under an ordinance passed by the County Commission Thursday. The changes to its current ordinance affect where molesters can live and loiter within the county and the 24 separate municipalities and unincorporated areas within its borders.

Amendments to the ordinance create ``child-safety zones,'' that ban sex offenders in Miami-Dade County from loitering or prowling within 300 feet of a school, day-care facility and municipal or county park. Previously, laws only restricted where molesters could live. A loophole made it legal for sex predators to be near schools and any other child facilities during the day. The amended ordinance also essentially forces other cities -- who don't opt out -- to allow sex offenders to live closer places that children congregate -- other than schools. This includes parks, bus stops and day-care facilities. All municipalities have a 90-day window in which to pass a resolution to opt out of the county's rules, thereby allowing them to pass their own laws again.

Key points of the ordinance:

• Prohibits convicted sex offenders and predators from living within 2,500 feet of a school -- only. They may live within 2,500 feet of other facilities, including and not limited to: municipal and county parks, day-care facilities and bus stops.

• Under a new ``child-safety zone'' amendment, sex offenders are banned from loitering or prowling within 300 feet of a school, municipal or county park or day-care facility.

• A sexual offender and predator is permitted in the park or day-care facility if he or she is a parent or guardian of the child.

• Any municipality may, within 90 days, have the ability to veer from the county ordinance by passing more restrictive ordinances. They are not permitted to pass less restrictive ordinances.

• Unless the suspected sexual offender flees, a law enforcement officer must give the offender or predator an opportunity to explain his or her presence and conduct before arrest.

• It is unlawful for anyone to rent a dwelling to a sexual offender or predator when the structure is within 2,500 feet of a school.