Sex Offender Registry




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Five Important Things to Know About a Sex Offender Registry


Helping you to keep yourself and members of your family, especially children, safe from sexual predators is the purpose of the sex offender registry set up in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The websites are designed to monitor the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders within the community once they are released from prison. Members of the general public can access these registries to obtain find out if a sex offender is living near them.

Must everyone convicted of a sex crime be listed in a sex offender registry?

Most sex crimes are violations of state law. The punishment imposed upon a person convicted of a sex crime is determined solely by the criminal laws of the state in which the crime is committed. Each state decides which sex offenses will require individuals to be included in its sex offender registry.

The federal government tried to add some uniformity to the registration of sex offenders with passage of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2006. SORNA recommends that states use a three-tier system for classifying sex offenses. The three tiers and factors associated with each are as follows:

  • Tier III: Sex crimes within this tier tend to be some of the most serious crimes and usually involve young children, kidnapping or sexual contact of an abusive nature. Sex offenders convicted of Tier III crimes must register with local police and be included in a state registry for the rest of their lives. Re-registration is required each time the offender moves from one location to another.
  • Tier II: Crimes such as sex trafficking and those in which a sex offense is committed by enticing or coercing the victim generally fall into this tier. Tier II sex offenders must register for 25 years.
  • Tier I: Any sex crime not classified as either a Tier III or Tier II offense are Tier I offenses. Sex offenders convicted of Tier I crimes must register for at least 10 years.

Although the purpose of SORNA is to bring uniformity to the network of state operated registries, not all states have fully adopted the federal guidelines. This means that some states might classify sex crimes and sex offenders differently than as the federal law requires.

How is registration accomplished?

As soon as sex offenders complete their prison sentences and return to the community, they must register with its local law enforcement agency. The information sex offenders must provide as part of the sex offender registry process usually includes:
  • Name, date of birth and Social Security number Photograph, DNA sample and fingerprints
  • Make, model and registration information of vehicles owned
  • Current address
  • Employment information, including employer's name and address

What happens to sex offenders who fail to register?

Failure to register as required by state law is a crime. The penalties can include fines and prison sentences for as long as 10 years. Under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2006, sex offenders who fail to register and commit federal crime involving violence could be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 30 years.

What information can individuals obtain about registered sex offenders?

The rules governing what type of information is available from a sex offender registry varies from state to state, but most state websites provide the name, current address, photograph and date of birth of the offender. Most websites also provide the offenses for which the sex offender was convicted.

What happens to sex offenders who fail to register?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation provides access through its website to the sex offender registry for each jurisdiction in the United States. By clicking on the name of a particular state or jurisdiction you wish to search, you will be directed to the sex offender registry for that location to find out if a sex offender might be living near you.


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