DeSantis signs new laws to protect children from sexual predators, increase penalties | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis signed new laws Wednesday aiming to protect children from sexual predators and tightening information reporting requirements on registered sexual predators and offenders.

“In Florida, we stand for the wellbeing and the innocence of our children,” DeSantis said during a press conference. “We have taken action over these many years to protect the wellbeing of children in a variety of ways.”

“We’re proud of that, but we also know there’s always more to do, but at the end of the day, we want kids to just be kids. When you have adults that are looking to harm them, we’ve got step in and we’ve got to protect them and that’s exactly what we’re doing here today,” he added.

After listing the legislation he would be singing, DeSantis emphasized how Florida is taking a “strong stand” against child sex trafficking.

“I think that this is going to offer good protection for the children of our state and people should just know that we are full, forthrightly committed, whatever we need to do, to maintain Florida as the best place to raise kids,” he said.

Sen. Jonathan Martin, R-Fort Myers, thanked the governor and the legislature for helping pass and sign the several bills related to the issue of sex trafficking.

He also pointed to how Florida has led the way in prioritizing the safety of children, including the state’s first-in-the-nation law establishing the death penalty for pedophiles.

“We’re going to prevent kids from having that mental trauma [that] leads into a life of being victimized,” Martin said.

The governor signed the following legislation:

  • HB 1545: Increases the severity of sexual offenses on the state’s Offense Severity Ranking Chart.
    • The bill would increase the severity number of “using a child in or promoting a child sexual performance” from six to seven, it would increase the offense of “Possessing child pornography with the intent to promote” from a five to a seven and it would increase “possessing or intentionally viewing child pornography” from a five to a six.
    • The chart is numbered 1-10, with 10 being the most severe, and is used to compute sentencing for each felony offender.
    • The legislation was filed by Reps. Jessica Baker, R-Jacksonville, Taylor Yarkosky, R-Montverde, and Martin.
  • HB 1235: Amends the Sexual Offender and Predator Act.
    • The goal is to improve public safety by further requiring offenders change any important information on the registry if their personal conditions change throughout life.
    • The legislation allows for offenders to update their personal details online instead of in person.
    • Baker and Sen. Jennifer Bradley, R-Fleming Island sponsored the bill.
  • SB 1224: The bill strengthens the duties and responsibilities of the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office.
    • The office seeks to provide legal representation for minors and advocate for what is in the best interest of children while on a court case.
    • The bill also allows for state departments like the Department of Education to launch the Fostering Prosperity Program, designed to help children in the foster care system through financial literacy education and test preparation for the ACT and SAT.
    • Sen. Colleen Burton, R-Lakeland, and Reps. Dana Trabulsy, R-Fort Pierce, and Baker filed the legislation.
  • HB 305: Expands child hearsay laws to qualify for all minors, rather than the current limit of 16 and under.
    • The age increase also expands the type of evidence that can be admitted into court.
    • It also specifies that defendants who have been charged with their first offense of child sex trafficking must be referred to as a sexual predator.
    • Baker, the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee and Sen. Jay Collins, R-Tampa, sponsored the bill.

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