Sexual Offender Registries track persons who have been convicted of certain sexual offenses including child sexual abuse, rape and other violent sexual crimes. States are required by federal law (or risk losing federal funds) to maintain this database of sexual offenders and implement public notification procedures to allow this information to be made available to the police, victims and other persons.
The sexual offender database typically includes details about the crime that required the listing of the offender on the registry, mugshots, current address, place of employment or school, registered vehicles, and other identifying information about the offender, such as race, height, eye and hair color.
What Happens to a Person on the Sexual Offender Registry?
Convicted offenders and civil and legal groups have challenged these registration requirements on a number of grounds, including invasion of privacy and harassment. They also have argued that there is a lack of evidence that registration prevents sexual crimes.
Nonetheless, courts have concluded that these concerns are outweighed by the need to protect the public. The sexual offender registry is intended to allow families to have access to information about individuals who may present a danger to their children based on the nature of their crime.
Your name on a sexual offender registry can have several negative impact. Landlords and employers can access this list and may use this information to make their decisions about whether to extend housing or employment to you. As well, as a convicted sexual offender, you can be restricted from living in certain areas.
Are States Allowed to Remove My Name From a Sexual Offender Registry?
Some states require that you be listed on a sexual offender registry for your lifetime and others require registration for a period of many years. Under some circumstances, your name may be removed from the registration before the expiration of this waiting period (usually a minimum of at least ten years) for relatively minor crimes, where you were convicted as a juvenile for an offense that involved a consensual sexual relations, where your crime was reversed on appeal or after the successful completion of a deferred resolution program. Because the rules on this vary from state to state, it is best to consult with an attorney who practices in your state.
What Should I Do to Get My Name Off a Sexual Offender Registry?
Check with your state to determine whether it allows for removal and what the eligibility requirements are for being removed from the state’s sexual offender registry. If you meet the eligibility requirement, you may petition the court for removal from the registry.
To support your petition for removal, your petition should include your complete sexual offender registration history, any documentation supporting your completion of any required counseling or treatment, and anything else that shows you are not a danger to the public.
The court will then review your petition and issue a decision whether to grant your request. If your petition is denied, you may be required to wait a certain period before you can file another petition.
States allow removal in very few situations, but typically those situations involved the following factors:
- Your criminal offense has been decriminalized;
- Your probation has ended;
- You have met a required period with a clean criminal record;
- You have completed counseling and other ordered treatment;
- You have been in compliance with the registration requirements;
- You have a record of rehabilitation;
- Your record of conviction of the sexual offense has been expunged;
- You were underage at the time you were convicted of your sexual offense;
- You are no longer a risk to the public; and/or
- You have been pardoned or your conviction was otherwise overturned.
Also expect that a state will look specifically at the circumstances of your sexual crime to determine whether removal is permitted. For example, a state may separate violent offenders from nonviolent offenders.
The violent offender category may include persons who have committed rape or a sexual assault involving a minor, or who abducted or murdered their victim while engaging in a sexual offense. A nonviolent crime may include child pornography, solicitation of a minor or indecent exposure.
A variety of factors will determine what separates one category from the other, but you can expect removal for violent offenders will be harder, if not impossible. For nonviolent offenders, the court may allow you to petition for removal after you have satisfied the years long waiting period.
Should I Consult an Attorney to Help Remove My Name from the Sex Offender Registry?
As you can see from the foregoing, removing your name from a sexual offender registry is a difficult and daunting process. That is of course whether your state even allows for removal at all.
Consider working with a local criminal attorney during this process. The attorney near you can help you identify whether you meet the eligibility requirements for removal and help you present the strongest petition for removal.