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- 2014 - August - 8th -

Appellate court overturns commitment of sex offender

From The News Service of Florida

An appeals court said Thursday that a convicted sexual offender should not be committed under the state’s Jimmy Ryce Act because he was not legally in state custody at the time the commitment process started.

Victor Reed pleaded guilty on May 23, 2013, to felonies that included three counts of sexual battery, according to the ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeal.

Under terms of the plea, he was sentenced to 481 days, with credit for all 481 days because he had already served the time.

At that point, Reed was sent to the Duval County jail, where he had been held before sentencing, to be “processed out.” Reed was still at the county jail the next day when the Florida Department of Children and Families directed the state Department of Corrections to take Reed to the Florida Civil Commitment Center, which is where sexual predators are held under the Jimmy Ryce Act.

On May 30, 2013, the state attorney filed a formal petition seeking to commit Reed to the center, alleging that he had a “lengthy history of sexual battery and rape, spanning at least a decade or more.’’

But Reed fought the commitment, in part arguing that, under state law, he was not in “lawful custody” of the state when the commitment process started.

That argument stemmed from the fact the 481-day sentence had expired the day before the commitment process started. A three-judge panel of the appeals court agreed with the argument, though it also asked the Florida Supreme Court to address the issue — a process known as “certifying” a question to the Supreme Court.

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