In July 2006, President George W. Bush signed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act into law. The legislation included the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), which instituted a new national sex offender registry system with more stringent requirements and more penalties for those who fail to meet the registry requirements.
After five years of the sex offender registry law, it is becoming clear how many problems those on the registry face in their lives after they complete their sentences. It is important to understand the types of offenses that require people to register, the requirements that must be met and the challenges that those on the registry face.
Offenses That Require Registering
SORNA details the offenses that require people to register on the sex offender registry upon conviction:
•· Criminal offenses that "have an element involving a sexual act or sexual contact with another"
•· Specified offenses against a minor, including but not limited to: kidnapping; false imprisonment; solicitation to commit a sexual act or engage in prostitution; possession, production, or distribution of child pornography; or criminal sexual conduct involving a minor
•· Sexual offenses under federal law such as sex trafficking of children, aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse of a minor, or sexual exploitation of children
•· Sexual offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice
•· Attempts and conspiracies to commit any of the above offenses
If a person is convicted of any of the above offenses, he or she will need to register. A conviction for the purposes of SORNA is when a person has been "subject to penal consequences" for the offense. If a juvenile is prosecuted as an adult for any of these offenses, he or she will have to register.
Those who are required to register under SONRA must do so in each jurisdiction in which they live, work or attend school. Those who served prison sentences for their offenses must register before they leave prison. Those who did not receive prison sentences need to register within three days of the date the court issued their sentences.
Those on the registry must update their information periodically. The frequency of updates depends on the severity of the offense
•· Tier I offenders: every year
•· Tier II offenders: every six months
•· Tier III offenders: every three months
Those on the registry must inform the jurisdiction in which they register of any changes in names, addresses, employment or student status by appearing in person in the jurisdiction.
The duration for how long a person needs to register varies with the seriousness of the offense, as well:
•· Tier I offenders: 15 years
•· Tier II offenders: 25 years
•· Tier III offenders: life
Consequences of Being on the Registry
People who are on the sex offender registry face a myriad of difficulties. After they have completed their sentences, they still face stigmatization from society. Their names and addresses are available on the sex offender registry website, so others know when a person on the registry lives near them.
Additionally, many sex offenders have trouble finding a place to live because many cities have laws stating that registered sex offenders may not live within certain distances of school, playgrounds, parks or other areas where children congregate.
Many on the registry also have a hard time finding employment because of the fact that they are on the registry.
Authorities take sex offenses very seriously and will not hesitate to prosecute them to the fullest extent possible. Being convicted of such an offense carries burdens for a person who is convicted, even after he or she finishes the prison sentence associated with the offense; it prevents him or her from rebuilding his or her life and becoming a productive member of society. If you are facing sex offense charges, contact an attorney immediately who can advise you of your options.