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Sex Offenders May Soon Have Their Passports Marked and Their International Travel Limited

In our criminal justice system, once you have been charged and convicted of a felony, you are required to serve your time. Once you have been released, there generally is a period of probation where your actions are monitored to ensure that you have been rehabilitated and are no longer a threat to society. For most felonies, there are some residual checks on the way you live your life so as to limit the possibility for recidivism, but after a certain amount of time, you are free to carry on your life. Some felonies are different, however; once they have been committed, you are forever marked physically in this society to let others know that you have been deemed a threat.

Sex Offenses in Florida

Sexual offenses are the type of felonies where serving time will not end the effects of your arrest. Once you have been released from the facility to which you were assigned, you must register as a sex offender, and this has the effect of dictating where you can and cannot live, the type of work you can get involved in, etc. As a registered sex offender, you must carry around identification marking you as such. In Florida, all sex offenders must register as such, and as part of the registration, their drivers’ licenses are marked with that information.

Sexual Offender “Scarlet Letters” for Passports

The United States Congress is looking to go a step further: sexual offender marks on passports for international travel. According to a new bill, also known as International Megan’s Law, those who have been convicted of sexual offenses against minors will have a mark or identifier placed on their passports so as to alert officials in other countries of their status in the United States.

Purpose Behind the “International Megan’s Law”

The major purpose behind the bill is to limit sexual trafficking, sexual exploitation, and the ability for sex offenders to go on sexual tourism. Sexual tourism is the practice of traveling abroad for the purpose of sexual activity in the target country, usually in places where laws pertaining to sexual activity are limited or nonexistent. The bill would require sex offenders to alert law enforcement at least 21 days in advance so that officials may notify their counterparts in destination countries of the sex offenders travel plans. The hope is to extend this program, also known as “Operation Angel Watch,” abroad so that countries with their own sexual offenders would notify the United States whenever a foreign national who is a sex offender is planning on visiting the United States.

Opponent Views of the Bill

There are many who believe that this is an extreme violation of rights and that there is little evidence supporting the necessity of these measures. Opponents of the bill state that first and foremost, there is no proof that sex offenders use their passports to travel abroad for the purpose of committing sex crimes. The vast majority of sex offenders who will be affected committed crimes decades earlier and for crimes that had nothing to do with sex trafficking, sex tourism, or international travel. In addition, they make the argument that studies show that sex offender registries and the limitations put on sex offenders do not stop sex crimes and in fact lead to an increase in crime due to the difficulty for these people of finding housing, legal employment, and a close-knit community.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

Sex crimes are dealt with seriously in our criminal justice system. Being convicted of a sex crime can mark you for the rest of your life in all aspects: your housing, legal employment, and your role in the community. If you have been charged with a sex crime, it is important you speak with an experienced defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik who can help guide you through your criminal proceedings and advocate on your behalf. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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