Once convicted of a sex crime, one may face similar penalties suffered by those convicted of other criminal offense. The penalties include high fines and jail and prison sentences. In addition, a conviction for sexual offenses may result in the loss of privacy, damaged reputation, loss of employment, destroyed relationships, and fear of harassment. The only exceptional penalty for sex crimes is sex offender registration. As provided by the law, any person found guilty of a sex crime must register as a sex offender for their entire life. The list with the names of the registrants is then made available to the public, and anyone can easily search and view. This is provided under Megan’s Law. The main intention of sex offender registration is not only to enable families and individuals to identify who their neighbors are but also help them know where sex criminals live. Furthermore, this penalty makes certain that sex offenders don’t live adjacent to playgrounds, schools, and other places where kids gather regularly.
A Sex offender is an individual convicted of certain sex offenses including:
- Sexual assault
- Sexual conduct with a minor
- Molestation of a child
- Sexual assaulting a spouse
- Infamous crimes against nature
- Continuous sexual abuse of a child
- Indecent exposure and public sexual indecency
- Lewd and lascivious acts
- Taking a child for the purpose of prostitution
- Sexual exploitation of a minor
- Kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, murder, aggravated assault, and burglary (when the offense comprises evidence of sexual motivation)
- Failure to register as a sex offender
- Violation of Sex Offender Registration statutes
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA)
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act is a section of the detailed federal law that obliges states to maintain a system for tracking and monitoring individuals who have been convicted of sex crimes once they are released into the society. Under the Act, it is a federal crime if you knowledgeably fail to register with a state’s authorities or even fail to update registration at stipulated times as required by the law.
Anyone convicted of a sexual offense is required to register with the authorities as a sex offender. Even though the definite requirements of what, when, and how the individual must report are well outlined, many people still make mistakes. Despite the fact that some individuals attempt to sabotage the law, a good number do not clearly comprehend the reporting requirements. It is, therefore, upon those required to register to be vigilant. In most states, the law concerning reporting requirement is strict and compliance is taken seriously. A simple mistake whether accidental or not could see one incur severe penalties.
How Does Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) Work?
Each state has its own definition of what kind of crimes are categorized as sex offenses and also provides the appropriate penalties for each crime. Conversely, SORNA classifies all the crimes into three main “tiers” with regard to the victim’s age, aggravating circumstances, length of prison term, and other related factors. In each tier, there are definite reporting requirements on the offender. Here is an outline of the tiers, crimes under each, and all the obligations imposed on the sex offenders after they are released from the prison.
Tier III offenses
Under SORNA, Tier III offenses are considered the most serious amongst the three tiers. A Tier III offense often involves aggravated sexual abuse or abusive sexual contact if the crime was committed against a minor below thirteen years of age and is punishable by at least one-year prison term. Kidnapping a minor who is not in the company of a parent or custodian, is considered a Tier III crime especially if the offender is found to have committed a Tier II offense. Individuals convicted of Tier III offenses face a lifetime reporting requirement. This implies that the offender has a duty to notify and register with the local authorities every time they change address or relocate to a different jurisdiction.
Tier II Offenses
A sexual offense is considered a Tier II crime if the punishment involves incarceration for at least one year. The only difference is that Tier II offenses involve enticement or coercion, sex trafficking, abusive sexual activity with a child below thirteen years of age, or transporting another person with for the purpose of engaging them in some form of criminal sexual activities. It can also embroil soliciting a minor to take part in prostitution, using a minor is a sexual performance, or creating or distributing child pornography. A Tier II offense conviction carries a 25-year obligation.
Tier I offenses
These kinds of crimes are described as any other offenses that don’t fall into the tiers. Under Tier I offenses, the offender is required to register for 10 years only if they have a clean record. This implies that the offender must not be convicted of any consequent crime whose punishment is one year or more in prison, or of any sexual crimes, and he or she is supposed to successfully attend and complete a sexual offender treatment program or any parole period required. If not, an offender must register for 15 years following their release from prison.
Sex Offender Registration Requirements
When registering as a sex offender with the police department of the city in which the offender currently lives, he or she must appear in person. As provided by SORNA, the registration must be completed within five working days after the offender is released from jail or prison, custody or on probation. Also, if a registered offender changes his or her residence, they are required to complete sex offender registration within three working days after relocating. The registration is done either in the county or the city. In some cases, an individual may have to report to the agency for the municipality in which they go to school or work. In the event that the offender frequently visits a certain region, they may be required to register there too. The respondent’s criminal defense lawyer may help with the registration process.
If the offender is homeless at the time of release from custody, he or she still has five working days to ensure that he registers as a sex offender. Instead of indicating his/her physical address during the registration process, the respondent must register as a transient. The respondent is then required to register as a transient sex offender after every 30 days until he/she secures a home. Majority of registered offenders are required to update their registration within five working days of their birthday and on a yearly basis. Conversely, sex offenders considered to be sexually violent predators are required to update their sex offender registration no less than every ninety days. Willful failure to register after a felony conviction is considered a felony.
When registering or updating their status under Megan’s Law, sex offenders are required to provide identifying personal and contact information. Information a defendant must provide under federal law include:
- Their official name
- Date of birth
- All phone numbers
- Driver’s license number
- Social security number
- Color photographs of themselves
- Physical description including his/her shoe size, height, etc.
- Finger and palm print
- Any online identifiers
- The person’s vocation or the name of educational institution
- Type of offenses the person was found guilty of, the victim’s age, date of conviction, and penalties imposed
In addition to the continuous reporting, any change in the information provided must be updated with the local law enforcement agency. Registration excludes any time the sex offender is civilly committed or in custody.
SORNA doesn’t require registration for juveniles arbitrated felonious for all sex crimes for which an adult sex offender must register, but instead requires registration precisely for a specific class of older juveniles. These are juveniles who are arbitrated delinquent for committing child molestation crimes or specific sexually assaultive offense. These are offenses similar to federal aggravated sexual abuse as provided under section 111(8). As such, a juvenile may be added to Megan’s list for engaging in a sexual act with a child under the age of 12, engaging with another individual by involuntarily drugging them, rendering them unconscious, or using force or the threat of serious violence.
Appearance or Verification Requirements
There are several provisions under SORNA that are meant to make sure that any alterations in the registration information are reported on time, and in all jurisdictions in which the sex offender is required to register, the information is kept fully up to date.
According to Section 113(a) of SORNA, a sex offender must keep the registration information up-to-date in each jurisdiction in which the offender lives, is a student, or is an employee. Section 113(c) provides that a sex offender must not take more than 5 days to appear in person at least in one of the jurisdictions in which they are required to register and inform them of all the changes in the information. Furthermore, this section provides that the information must be immediately relayed to the other jurisdictions in which the sex offender is required to register. Section 119(b) of SORNA provides that updated registration information related to the sex offender must be instantaneously conveyed to all other related jurisdictions by electronic forwarding.
Section 116 of Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), provides that a sex offender shall be required to appear in person at the one of the jurisdiction to enable them to take current photos, and verify all the information under each registry in which the sex offender is required to be registered.
Penalties for Failing to Comply
You may consider not to register as a sex offender for fear of harassment or loss of privacy, but penalties for failing to register are steep. Under Section 2250 of the Title 18 of the US code, one is considered to have committed a federal crime if he or she knowingly failed to register or update a registration as required. An offender convicted under a given state’s law may also be prosecuted under this statute for failing to comply with the requirements of SORNA. One element of the crime of failing to register or update a registration as required is that a person must act knowingly. This means having the full knowledge and choosing not to comply with the law on purpose. Conversely, if the element of “knowingly” is absent, then an individual has likely not committed a crime. You are deemed to have acted knowingly if you do any of the following:
- Travel to a foreign country,
- Travel to another state, or
- Enter, leave, or reside on an Indian reservation
Anyone found in violation of the federal registration law is likely to face a maximum fine of $250,000 and a maximum of 10 years in a federal prison. If you knowledgeably failed to update your registration as required and on top of that, you commit a violent federal crime, you may face another 30 years in a federal prison plus the time stipulated for the federal crime you committed.
Other penalties for a felony conviction include losing a visa or green card, losing a visitation or custody with your kids, denial of your citizenship application, or being deported. You may lose a professional license or be unable to acquire one in the future.
How an Experienced Sex Crimes Attorney Can Help
Whether you are facing initial federal prosecution for a sex crime or for failure to register or update your registration as a sex offender, promptly working with an experienced Sex Crime Attorney may prove advantageous in protecting your rights. At Sex Crime Attorney, we know how complex registration requirements can be and how easy it is for one to make an error, for instance, forgetting to update an online identifier or reporting a day late. We can explain how the law applies to your case and whether you have a viable defense to the charges.
Our experienced sex crime defense attorneys will fight for you aggressively and can make a difference in the outcome of your case. To avoid facing another conviction for an offense that you had no intention of committing, contact us today at 888-666-8480 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.