A sex offender registry is best defined as a collection of data pertaining to convicted sex offenders. This database is accessed and maintained by police officers. The purpose of storing and retrieving such information is to monitor sex offenders within the community. It is possible for the average person to find all sorts of information about sex offenders by searching through an online sex offender registry. Every state has its own list of sex offenders. Each jurisdiction has nuanced rules pertaining to who is required to register, what type of information must be provided, the type of data the public can see and so on.
There was a strong push to bolster the notification programs and nationwide registration network for sex offenders back in the early '00s. The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act or SORNA passed in 2006 as a part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. The purpose of SORNA is to set minimum standards for states' notification programs and registration. Yet plenty of states did not implement this program. It is important to note the states that implemented the standards of SORNA still have considerable variations in law. Furthermore, state governments are empowered to move beyond SORNA by establishing nuanced requirements of their own.
The Sex Offender Registry Registration Process
A person convicted of a certain sex offense is required to register on the sex offender registry. Registration is required for offenses against children. The guilty party must register on the specific sex offender registry in the town or city where he or she lives right after being released in that specific area. The individual in question is forced to re-register each year. In some cases, re-registering even more frequently will be necessary. The sex offender must also re-register each time he or she moves. The failure to register with the sex offender registry is viewed as a criminal offense in and of itself.
The information a sex offender is required to provide during registration differs by locale and situation. In general, the sex offender is required to state his name, Social Security number, date of birth, offense information, vehicle information and address. The offender is also fingerprinted to boot. Some of this data will be shown on the sex offender website. However, not all of it will be displayed to the public.
In certain situations, it is possible for the sex offender to be forced to register on the registry and with law enforcement yet block this information from the public eye. The bottom line is the rules of each jurisdiction and the details of each specific sex offense determine whether the public will be able to know about the individual's status as a sex offender. There is even the possibility of successfully petitioning to have one's name taken off of the sex offender registry. These are matters your sex crimes attorney can help you sort through.
How the Public can get Information About Sex Offenders
Those who are looking for information about sex offenders stand a good chance of finding the individual in question and other relevant information on the Department of Justice's NSOPW. This acronym stands for national sex offender public website. This site is a helpful hub of sex offender information. The NSOPW has access to information about sex offenders across all states and additional U.S. territories. It is possible to search the entire nation or a certain jurisdiction. Searches can be conducted by zip code or name. In some situations, it is even possible to search by city, county or address.
For the most part, the general public can access limited information about sex officers. The specific data available to sleuths depends on the jurisdiction in question. In general, searchers can find a name, photo, address and information about the sex offense. The website might also list the sex offender's height, weight, statute violations, date of the offense, date of birth and other details.
The National Sex Offender Registry
A national sex offender registry exists yet it is not viewable by the general public. This database is strictly limited to law enforcement. The FBI's U.S. Attorney maintains this database. The purpose of the National Sex Offender Registry is to track those registered as sex offenders. This registry also helps with the safe and accurate transmission of updated information to pertinent jurisdictions across the entire United States.
Sex Offenders Who Fail to Register
Sex offenders who do not register as sex offenders on the registry are committing a federal offense. However, the system designed to enforce such registration is not flawless. There have been and likely always will be sex offenders who are not registered as such and walking free without any type of repercussion. Furthermore, some of these perpetrators do not update their information in the registry after moving. If an unregistered sex offender is subsequently found guilty of yet another new violent crime, it is possible to add upwards of three decades to his or her sentence.
The Issue of Homelessness and Sex Offender Registration
Those who are registered in sex offender databases are typically forced to notify the government when moving to a new residence. This notification requirement is an issue in instances when the registered offender does not have a place to live. Such an individual is likely to wander from one place to the next and no one will have any idea he or she is a sex offender. This situation is particularly problematic if the homeless person is a legitimate threat to the well-being of others. The sad truth is most states do not have a special provision in the registration code that covers homeless sex offenders.
The Challenge of Child Perpetrators
Sex offender registries become quite the controversial topic when the issue of child sex offenders is raised. There have been instances in which a teenager who is a couple days beyond the legal age for sexual consent is jailed for having sex with a minor who is a day or two away from the legal age of consent. In other instances, minors who have nude photos of their significant others can be labeled as sex offenders. These youngsters are still required to register on the sex offender registry due to the requirements of mandatory sentencing.
Sex Offender Information Availability
In certain localities within the U.S., the list of sex offenders is made available to the general public. As an example, it is possible for people to use the internet, newspapers and other forms of community notification to find information about local sex offenders. However, in certain localities, such complete lists of sex offenders are not available to anyone. Certain localities reserve access to such information. Only the police can access the complete list of sex offenders in these areas.
Sex Offender Categories
In the U.S., sex offenders are generally grouped into three categories: Level I, Level II and Level III. The amount and type of information the general public can access about such sex offenders is based on the level in question. Information is typically more accessible to the general public for sex offenders who are at the highest level. In certain jurisdictions, the sex offender level is a reflection of the potential chance for recidivism. In other jurisdictions, the sex offender level is determined by the virtue of the conviction. In such a situation, there is no assessment of the offender's risk level.
For the most part, states that apply registry schemes that are risk-based tend to exclude the lowest risk sex offenders from the public disclosure. In certain states, sex offenders who are the highest risk are the only ones made available through public disclosure. Other states include those who are considered to be moderate risk sex offenders on websites available to the public.
It is clear each state has its own nuanced rules for the public disclosure of information pertaining to the different sex offender levels. States also differ when it comes to the classification of offenses into particular tiers. This means the same sex-related offenses performed in two different states have the potential to generate two highly unique outcomes. An offense labeled as a Tier I sex offense in a certain state will not require public disclosure yet it could be labeled as a Tier II or even a Tier III offense in a neighboring state. The higher the tier, the longer the registration period and time required for public disclosure.
The differences in state legislation pertaining to sex offender registries have led to all sorts of unanticipated issues when registrants move across state lines. Some such sex offenders find they are subjected to their new home state's laws pertaining to public disclosure on the sex offender website. In some cases, sex offenders also find their new home state has a longer registration period on the sex offender registry. In other instances, sex offenders move to a new state only to find they are required to remain on the sex offender registry for life. It does not matter if the initial length of registration has passed. The sex offender will still be required to register on his or her new home state's sex offender web page in accordance with the law of that state.
Certain states have what is being referred to as a “catch all” statute that applies to former sex offender registrants heading to a new jurisdiction. The purpose of such statutes is to force the new residents to register and have their information publicly posted. This is to be done even if the sex offender has completed the initial registration period in the state in which the offense occurred. It is interesting to note Illinois goes to the extent of reclassifying all registrants who move to the state as the highest sex offender tier known as Sexual Predator. The state does not consider the initial tier of the individual in question when during the reclassification process.
The bottom line is you need to consult with an experienced sex crimes attorney to determine what will be required to comply with the law when moving to a new state. Your attorney will tell you all about the required paperwork, how the tier level will be determined, if you will be subjected to public disclosure and so on. Your attorney can also help prevent potential problems stemming from the differences in public disclosure laws by state. As an example, certain states do not permit sex offenders of certain tiers to move into specific parts of town. Some sex offenders are unaware of such rules, move to their new home state and end up finding their house or apartment is positioned in a part of town they are not legally allowed to live in. This is the type of nightmare situation a sex crimes attorney can help you avoid.
Additional Sex Offender Registry Details of Note
Every state mandates those convicted of certain sex crimes register on the sex offender registry. Individuals who are convicted of especially violent crimes are usually forced to remain on the sex offender registry for an extended period of time. These violent criminals are also forced to update their address on the registry more frequently than others. In some jurisdictions, those who are registered as sex offenders are subjected to extra restrictions on aspects of life such as housing.
It is interesting to note the United States is particular transparent when it comes to identifying sex offenders. We are the only nation with a publicly accessible sex offender registry. Every other country in the world in which English is spoken limits sex offender registry access to those who work in law enforcement.
Individuals who are on probation or parole might also be subjected to certain restrictions that are not applicable to other probationers or parolees. In some cases, owning items geared toward children, using the web or living by a day care or school is not permitted. Some registered sex offenders even have to deal with restrictions on being in the vicinity of underage individuals.
Our Sex Crimes Attorney is a Call Away
If you are charged with a sex crime of any type, you need a savvy sex crimes attorney to build a convincing defense, organize evidence, argue your case and defend your name. Sex Crimes Attorney is here to fiercely represent your interests every step of the way toward a fair and just result.
If you are charged with a crime, contact us right away at 888-666-8480.