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Notice of Sex Offense Admission Requirement Not Required to Find Florida Probationer Violated Treatment

by David Reutter

The Florida Supreme Court held a defendant may be found guilty of violating probation for failing to admit to engaging in sexually deviant behavior during a sex offender program.

Warren Staples entered a “best-interest” guilty plea to one count of traveling to meet a minor. As part of his plea, he was sentenced to six days time served and five years of sex offender probation that required him to actively participate in and successfully complete a sex offender treatment program. As he went through the program, he was informed he would have to admit to sexual misconduct, an admission he did not even make in court.

Staples’ failure to make such an admission resulted in termination from the program and a probation violation finding for failure to successfully complete the program. Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal affirmed that finding. See: Staples v. State, 5th D.C.A (Fla. 2014), No. 5D13-3573.

The Florida Supreme Court recognized “The admission requirement not as a probation condition on its own but as an internal, program-specific requirement that may or may not cause an offender to violate the ‘successful completion’ condition of sex offender probation.” It also rejected any rule that requires sufficient notice being provided to inform a probationer “prior to the entry of a plea that an admission of wrongdoing is required.”

As such, the district court’s order was approved and the trial court’s order affirmed. See: Staples v. Florida, S. Ct. (Fla. 2016), No. SC14-2485.

 

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