Personally, I don’t believe many criminal defense practitioners know that if their client is convicted of a felony, they must register with the Sheriff of the county in which they are residing within 48 hours of entering that county. This is true even if an adjudication of guilty is withheld. The failure to register is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or 6 months of supervised probation. Fla. Stat. 775.13. However, if the felony was committed to benefit, promote, or further the interest of a criminal gang, the failure to register will be a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or 5 years of probation.
What Does Registration of a Convicted Felon Entail?
One could probably guess what goes into registration as a convicted felon. The statute lists the required items and they are:
- Listing of the crime convicted of
- Name and any aliases
- Whether the crime was one benefitting, promoting, or furthering the interests of a criminal gang
Exceptions to the Registration Requirements
Again, most of these are common sense exception or would be duplications of other registration requirements. As such, a person is not required to register as a convicted felon if:
- Civil Rights have been restored
- A full pardon has been received
- The felon has been released from incarceration and/or supervision for more than 5 years
- The felon is currently a Federal probationer or parolee
- Is a registered sexual predator
- Is a registered sexual offender
- Is a registered career offender
What If My Lawyer Didn’t Tell Me About the Registration Requirement
As a general rule, lawyers are required to inform their client of direct consequences of their plea to any crime. For example, you must tell your client all the terms and conditions of the plea deal, if it’s an open plea, the client must be informed of the maximum sentence and any minimum mandatory sentences, etc. However, lawyers do not have to inform their clients of “collateral consequences” of a plea.
In Cella v. State, 831 So.2d 716, 719 n.4 (Fla.5th DCA 2022), the Court indicated that the distinction between “direct” and “collateral” consequences of a plea turns on whether the result represents a definite, immediate and largely automatic effect on the range of the defendant’s punishment. Since registration does not have any effect of the range of the punishment (i.e., length of sentence), registration is a collateral consequence of a plea.
Therefore, if a person’s lawyer fails to tell them about the requirement to register as a convicted felony, even upon receiving a withhold of adjudication, it will not allow the withdrawal of that plea and the vacation of any sentence received.