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Florida’s Jimmy Ryce Act

The Jimmy Ryce Act is a specific piece of Florida legislation that went into effect on January 1, 1999. The act involves the possible involuntary civil commitment for those persons convicted of sexually violent crimes. If you have been arrested or charged with this type of crime, it is essential that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today for assistance.

Samuel James “Jimmy” Ryce

Jimmy was born on September 26, 1985. He was abducted, raped and killed by Juan Carlos Chavez in Redland, FL. Jimmy was killed at the age of nine on September 11, 1995.

On this date, Jimmy was riding the bus home from school. He was dropped off and had to walk less than a block to his home. According to Chavez’s confession, Chavez blocked Jimmy’s path with his pickup truck. He then forced him into the vehicle at gunpoint.

Chavez took Jimmy to his trailer located in Redland. Chavez raped him. Approximately four hours later, Jimmy heard a helicopter above Chavez’s trailer. He ran to the trailer’s door to try and open it. Chavez, however, shot him in the back.

The child’s dismembered body was found three months later near Chavez’s trailer. Chavez actually led law enforcement authorities to Jimmy’s remains. This was after Chavez openly admitted to abducting, raping, and murdering Jimmy after a 55-hour-long interrogation.

In 1998, Chavez was convicted of kidnapping, capital sexual battery, and first degree murder. He was sentenced to death. Chavez is currently still incarcerated and awaiting the death penalty.

The Jimmy Ryce Act

The Jimmy Ryce Act is a Florida law that was born out of the above events. The law is more formerly known as the Jimmy Ryce Involuntary Civil Commitment for Sexually Violent Predators’ Treatment and Care Act. It passed unanimously by the Florida legislature in 1998 and went into effect on January 1, 1999.

As its formal title implies, the act pertains to the involuntary civil commitment for those persons convicted of sexually violent crimes. The act specifically calls for inmates with sex offense histories to be reviewed by the Florida Department of Corrections, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCF), and state attorneys to determine any potential risk for re-offense. Upon release from incarceration, these inmates may be subject to civil proceedings and committed to a secure facility for treatment.

If commitment takes place, these inmates are deemed sexually violent predators. They are committed to the custody of DCF for control, care, and treatment. These persons are committed until such time as they are determined to be safe at large. Prior to release, DCF is required to give written notice of a person’s release to any victim of the person’s activities or crime who is alive or, if the victim is deceased, to the victim’s next of kin.

The term “sex offense” refers to a specific class of crimes under Florida law. Sex offenses can be factually complex and the evidence involved can be of a highly technical nature. In addition, as the Jimmy Ryce Act implies, these offenses could impose additional hardships even after a convicted person is released from jail.

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a sex offense, please contact our firm today for assistance. We are a well respected criminal defense firm in Sarasota. Our team of talented and passionate attorneys has over 100 years of collective experience in defending these types of crimes. Contact us and let us help.

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