New Florida Laws Address Cyberharassment, Sex Trafficking, Others

A wooden mallet set bearing the Florida flag.

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On Thursday, 27 new Florida laws officially hit the books and came into effect. These 27 laws are part of 232 bills that were signed by Florida Governor Rick Scott out of the 2015 legislative session. Most of the laws took effect on July 1st, though now they are all active.

The subject matter of all of the proposed laws during the 2015 legislative season cover a wide breadth of topic, including cyberharassment, sex trafficking, law enforcement, highway safety, health care, and government accountability. Some of the failed laws that were proposed included topics like transgender discrimination and religious freedoms—an area that Miami litigator Kendall Coffey noted would likely continue to spring up in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage.

Here’s a brief outline of some of the more important laws that went into effect on Thursday:

Revenge Porn

SB 538 makes it a first-degree misdemeanor to “sexually cyberharass” another person, chiefly by posting sexually explicitly images or videos of that person without their consent. While the measure of the bill is not as strong as its sponsors had hoped it would be, there is a general contentment about how it turned out. As Senate sponsor David Simmons said, “We’re doing the best we can, but we’re not doing all we can.”

Domestic Violence

SB 342 decrees that when a judge imposes a “no contact” conditions as part of a pretrial release, the order is effective immediately and enforceable for the duration of that pretrial release. This will help protect domestic-violence victims, and helpfully makes it clear that “no contact” means nothing can take place in person, over the telephone, the Internet, or even though a third party.

Human Trafficking

HB 465 increases the criminal penalties for those who solicit others to commit prostitution. The penalty is now a first-degree misdemeanor on the first offense instead of a second-degree misdemeanor.

Health Care

HB 889 changes the health-care surrogate law so that people can designate health-care surrogates to act on their behalf even when the people are still competent and able to make decisions. However, if still deemed competent, the individual in question’s consent is ultimately given top authority over the surrogate. Simply put, this allows parents and legal guardians to name surrogates who can act on their behalf if they are delayed from making medical decisions for whatever reasons.

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