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Sex Offender Registration
offender registration is a system in
many jurisdictions registered sex offenders are subject to additional
restrictions, including housing. Those on parole or probation may be subject to
restrictions that don't apply to other parolees or probationers. Sometimes these
include (or have been proposed to include) restrictions on being in the presence
of minors, living in proximity to a school or day care center, owning toys or
other items of interest to minors, or using the Internet.
United Kingdom, the Violent and Sex Offender Register (ViSOR) is a database of
records of those required to register with the Police under the Sexual Offences
Act 2003, those jailed for more than 12 months for violent offences, and
unconvicted people thought to be at risk of offending. The Register can be
accessed by the Police, National Probation Service and HM Prison Service
personnel. It is managed by the National Policing Improvement Agency of the Home
at the limits of
Supreme Court of the
Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act became law in 2007. This law
implements new uniform requirements for sex offender registration across the
states (however, these laws can differ in each state). Highlights of the law are
a new national sex offender registry, standardized registration requirements for
the states, and new and enhanced criminal offenses related to sex offenders.
Since its enactment, the Adam Walsh Act (AWA) has come under intense grassroots
scrutiny for its far-reaching scope and breadth. Even before any state adopted
AWA, several sex offenders were prosecuted under its regulations. This has
resulted in one life sentence for failure to register, due to the offender being
homeless and unable to register a physical address.
Because of the act, all 50 states have now passed laws requiring sex offenders
(especially child sex offenders) to register with police. Accordingly, the law
requires offenders report where they take up residence upon leaving prison or
being convicted of any crime
Wetterling, the mother of Jacob Wetterling and a major proponent of the Jacob
Wetterling Act, has openly criticized the evolution of sex offender registration
and management laws in the United States since the Jacob Wetterling Act was
passed, saying that the laws are often applied to too many offenses and that the
severity of the laws often makes it difficult to rehabilitate offenders.
cases docketed for argument on November 13, 2003, the sex offender registries of
post facto challenge. In Smith v. Doe, 538 U.S. 84 (2003), the Supreme Court
process challenge. In Connecticut Dept. of Public Safety v. Doe, 538 U.S. 1
(2003), the Court ruled that Connecticut's sex-offender registration statute did
not violate the procedural due process of those to whom it applied, although the
Court "expresses no opinion as to whether the State's law violates substantive
due process principles."
State Court rulings
v. Phillips, 194 S.W.3d 837 (Mo. banc 2006), the Supreme Court of Missouri held
that the Missouri Constitution did not allow the state to place anyone on the
registry who had been convicted or pleaded guilty to a registrable offense
before the sex offender registration law went into effect on January 1, 1995 and
remanded the case for further consideration in light of that holding.
remand, the Jackson County Circuit Court entered an injunction ordering that the
applicable individuals be removed from the published sex offender list.
Defendant Colonel James Keathley appealed that order to the Missouri Court of
response to these rulings, in 2007, several
same constitutional amendment was proposed in and passed by the Missouri Senate
again in 2008, but also was not passed by the House of Representatives by the
end of that year's legislative session. As a result, the decisions of the
Missouri Supreme Court ruled on Keathley's appeal (Doe v. Phillips now styled
Doe v. Keathley) on June 16, 2009. The Court held that the Missouri
Constitution's provision prohibiting laws retrospective in operation no longer
exempts individuals from registration if they are subject to the independent
Federal obligation created under the Sexual Offenders Registration and
Notification Act (SORNA), 42 U.S.C. § 16913. As a result, many offenders who
were previously exempt under the Court's 2006 holding in Doe v. Phillips were
once again required to register.
January 12, 2010, Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan ruled that
individuals who plead guilty to a sex offense are not required to register under
Federal Law and thus are not required to register in
Another exception to the school-residence proximity requirement was handed down
by the Court on January 12, 2010 in F.R. v. St. Charles County Sheriff's
Department. In this case, F.R. was convicted prior to the enactment of the law
and the Court held that, as such, he was not required to abide by the
restriction. Consolidated with F.R. was State of
Adam Walsh Act (2006)
I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, the Sex Offender
Registration and Notification Act, abbreviated as SORNA, and codified under 42
U.S.C.16911 et seq., is a federal mandate which requires
Tiers of Offenses
that are deemed sex offenses for registration purposes have been expanded under
SORNA. Each state must decide which tier violations of state law belong to,
depending on the following guidelines, and then enact statutes that tier each
criminal offense. This is in contrast to the current method in some states,
where prosecutors or the courts tier individual offenders.
an offender's tier under this scheme is based on the particular statute to which
an offender plead guilty, or was convicted of. So an offender's tier is not
necessarily based on the seriousness of the crime, nor does it reflect the
danger or re-offense risk of the offender. However, offenses must be punishable
by imprisonment for more than 1 year (i.e. a felony) to be classified higher
than Tier I.
Violations of state law are tiered according to the federal offenses to which
they are comparable, or more serious than. Note that for federal purposes,
sexual act typically refers to sexual penetration, while sexual contact refers
to a touching offense, though sexual act can include sexual contact depending on
the reading of the statute.
III Offenses, require lifetime registration and quarterly verification, involve:
sexual acts involving force or carried out under threat, 18 U.S.C. 2241(a)
sexual acts with one whom the actor causes unconscious, or impairs by drugging or intoxication, 18 U.S.C. 2241(b)
sexual acts with a child under the age of 12, 18 U.S.C. 2241(c)
sexual acts with one whom is mentally incapable of appraising, or physically incapable of declining, or communicates unwillingness of, the sex act, 18 U.S.C. 2242
sexual contact with a child under the age of 12, 18 U.S.C. 2244(c)
non-parental kidnapping or false imprisonment of minors,
any attempt or conspiracy to commit of any of the above, and
any new offense committed by a Tier II offender.
Tier II Offenses, require registration for 25 years and semiannual verification. It generally consists of nonviolent sex offenses, involving minors:
sex trafficking of minors, 18 U.S.C. 1591
transportation of minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, 18 U.S.C. 2423
coercion and enticement (Mann Act), 18 U.S.C. 2422(b)
sexual acts with minors age 12-15, 18 U.S.C. 2243(a)
sexual contact with minors age 12-15, 18 U.S.C. 2244
sexual offenses involving those in custody, and the actor has custodial, supervisory, or disciplinary authority, 18 U.S.C. 2243(b)
offenses where minors are used in prostitution,
offenses where minors are used in sexual performance,
offenses involving the production or distribution of child pornography,
any attempt or conspiracy to commit of any of the above, and
new offense committed by a Tier I offender.
Offenses, require registration for 15 years and annual verification. This tier
is for sex offenses that do not fall into the higher tiers, and includes both
felonies and misdemeanors. States can include any conduct that by its nature is
a sex offense, although Tier I is generally reserved for nonviolent offenses
where the victim has reached the age of consent:
sexual contact without permission, 18 U.S.C. 2244(b)
offenses involving simple possession of child pornography,
offenses involving public indecency (some states limit this to where the victim is a minor),
offenses involving voyeurism, 18 U.S.C. 1801
required retroactive application of requirements will be defined by criteria
relating to the nature of their sex offenses. For example a tier 3 sex offender
who was released from imprisonment for such an offense in 1930 will still have
to register for the remainder of their life. Tier 2 sex offender convicted in
1980 is already more than 25 years out from the time of release. In such cases,
a jurisdiction may credit the sex offender with the time elapsed from his or her
Application to offenses
other than felony sexual offenses
offender registration has been applied to crimes other than rape, child
molestation, and child pornography offenses.
Connecticut, those with state convictions for certain misdemeanors have to
register, including: Public Indecency, in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-186,
provided the court finds the victim was under 18; and Sexual Assault, 4th
Degree, in violation of C.G.S. § 53a-73a.
York and various other states, crimes that society does not necessarily view as
sexual in nature are also considered to be registerable sex offenses, such as
kidnapping, unlawful surveillance, "sexual misconduct" (such as mooning or
streaking), unlawful imprisonment, and in some cases "sexually motivated
offenses" (such as assault, burglary, etc.) that are not categorized as sexual
offenses unless the court determines that the offense was committed pursuant to
the offender's own sexual gratification.
some localities, the lists of sex offenders are made available to the public:
for example, through the newspapers, community notification, or the Internet.
However, in other localities, the complete lists are not available to the
general public but are known to the police. In the
beyond public notice
offenders on parole or probation are generally subject the same restrictions as
other parolees and probationers.
offenders who have completed probation or parole may also be subject to
restrictions above and beyond those of most felons. In some jurisdictions they
cannot live within a certain distance of places children or families gather.
Such places are usually schools, churches, and parks. It could also include
public venues (stadiums), airports, apartments, malls, stores, shopping centers,
and certain neighborhoods.
states have Civil Commitment laws, which allow very-high-risk sex offenders to
be returned to prison or forced to live under very heavy supervision after the
end of their normal sentences. See also: Child Sex Offender penalties.
vast majority of offenders victimize individuals who are known, related, or
intimate to the victim, contrary to media depictions of stranger assaults or
child molesters who kidnap children unknown to them. Thus, despite the public
awareness of the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders, there has been no
evidence shown that mandatory registration has made society safer.
Sex offender registries are designed to protect and alert the public about the dangers of sex offenders; however, in at least two instances, convicted sex offenders were murdered after their information was made available over the Internet.
believe that sex offender registration has become a self-defeating process. In
the effort to register as many people as possible for sex-related crimes, the
sex offender registry has grown exponentially with too many people for law
enforcement to effectively manage. In many states, the sex offender lists even
include people arrested for visiting prostitutes, underage teenagers who engaged
in consensual sex with each other, and minors who emailed or texted nude photos
of themselves to their friends.
who are registered in offender databases are usually required to notify the
government when they change their place of residence. This notification
requirement is problematic in cases where the registered offender is homeless.
News reports in 2007 revealed that some registered sex offenders were living outside or under the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami, Florida because Miami-Dade County ordinances, which are more restrictive than Florida's state laws, made it virtually impossible for them to find housing. The colony at the causeway grew to as many as 140 registrants living there as of July 2009, but eventually became a political embarrassment and was disbanded in April 2010, with the residents moved into acceptable housing in the area.
Megan's Law, a series of state laws in the United States that require sex offenders to register with the police.
Violent and Sex Offender Register, a non-public
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