A person who has been convicted of sexual offenses under federal or state laws can be a registered sex offender. In many cases, these defendants are required to submit their personal information, including their names and addresses, to government records, where they are kept in a database often known as a sex offender registry. Often crimes such as rape, child molestation, harassment, or other types of sexual abuse will require a defendant to register their information.

What Criminal Charges Can Result in Becoming a Registered Sex Offender?

You may be required to register as a sex offender if you have committed a sex crime. Sex crimes are considered some of the most serious offenses in the criminal justice system, and can carry very serious penalties.

Many states have specific laws detailing what crimes constitute sex offenses and what penalties each offense carries. Depending on where you live, some of the more serious sex offenses include crimes like:

  • Child Pornography;
  • Indecent Exposure;
  • Prostitution;
  • Rape;
  • Sexual Assault; and/or
  • Statutory Rape.

Some states even include behavior such as public urination as a sex crime (as in public exposure)! It’s not just state laws that can require defendants to enroll in the registry—federal law also includes charges that can lead a defendant to become a registered sex offender.

Even if a defendant has completed their jail or probation sentences, they may still be required to register as a sex offender if they have shown a tendency to continue to engage in victimizing behavior.

Do Registered Sex Offenders Lose Any Rights?

Since many sex offenses are classified as felonies, a conviction will result in the defendant being a convicted felon. This means that the defendant may lose certain civil rights as a result of the felony, such as the right to carry or own a firearm, access to federal student loan programs, restrictions or limitations on driving privileges, or they may lose or have limits imposed on their voting rights. Sex offender registration can also result in restrictions directly related to the nature of the crime, including:

  • Restrictions on being in or near school zones;
  • Restraining orders (which restrict being near the victim of the crime); and/or
  • Being able to work in certain places.

If the crime itself involved minor children, it is likely that the court will place limitations on the defendant’s ability to interact with children, so jobs that would require contact with minors or homes that are close to schools would be violations of the defendant’s registration.

Why Do Registered Sex Offenders Have to Register Their Addresses?

The main reason behind having a sex offender registry is to allow people in the community to be aware of the presence of registered offenders in their neighborhood or workplace. This is intended as a means of public protection.

Often, the state registries give the public access to general information about registered offenders, such as criminal history, current address and a picture. Depending on the state, the registry may also include the offender’s current place of employment.

This information is made available to the public after the offender provides their information for the registry.

What Laws Govern Registered Sex Offenders?

Each state has its own laws that govern registered sex offenders. There are also federal laws that govern registries.

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2007 (named for the son of John Walsh, who hosted the America’s Most Wanted television show) has implemented a new requirement for sex offender registrations—it is mandatory for sex offenders to be required to register a physical address with the police.

The federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (also called “SORNA”) makes it a crime for people required to register as sex offenders to fail to register or update their registration.

Defendants who have been convicted under state statutes can also be prosecuted under this federal statute if they fail to register and then travel between states, countries, or onto an Indian reservation. Violations of SORNA can result in fines and up to 10 years in prison.

Other laws include “Megan’s Law” which is the name given to a collective body of state registered offender laws. The details of Megan’s Laws may vary depending on what state you’re in, but every state must provide information about the location of registered sex offenders.

It is possible to be removed from the sex offender registry, but it depends on the circumstances of the offense and the laws of your state where you reside. Be sure to check the requirements of your state, which is typically found on your state’s registry.

Can I Get a Job as a Registered Sexual Offender?

There is nothing in the laws regarding registered sex offenders that would keep them from holding a job. People who happen to be registered sex offenders cannot be discriminated against for employment purposes. However, if you are a registered sex offender, you may have certain restrictions as part of your sentence that may disqualify you from certain types of employment.

For example, if part of your sentencing and your participation in the registry prevents you from being areas close to schools or daycares, or even being in the presence of minor children, that would be something important for a potential employer to take into account. Certain jobs that would require you to be in direct contact with children may also be restricted to you due to the nature of the restrictions on your record.

Should I Talk to a Lawyer For Help with Registered Sex Offender Laws?

If you have questions or concerns about how the registered sex offender laws work, you should consult a criminal lawyer.

An experienced lawyer can answer your questions, explain what options you have if you are facing criminal charges that can involve registration as a sex offender, and can help you present your best defense if you have to go to court. You can also see a lawyer for counseling to ensure that you are in compliance with your registration requirements.