Sex offender registration requires those convicted of certain crimes to provide their personal information to a state or national database. These databases are accessible to the public, who can search for those registered by name. 

Established public policy states that a community has the right to be aware of registered sex offenders in their area and should have the ability to look them up if they choose. Being a registered sex offender also carries a number of requirements and restrictions that do not apply to other citizens and violating them can carry additional punishments.

What is a Sex Offender?

A sex offender is defined as a person who is convicted of one of a number of named sexual offenses under federal or state law. These crimes include rape, sexual harassment, child pornography possession and distribution, and a number of other sexually classified crimes. 

Some individuals who have completed their prison or probation terms may be required to register as well, if they are deemed to have a tendency to engage in further inappropriate behaviors.

What Information is Required When You Register as a Sex Offender?

Although every state and locality has their own registration requirements, there are a number of categories that are common across jurisdictions. General locations/addresses, employment information, and physical markers like tattoos and scars are among the most constantly required pieces of information for sex offender registration. 

In addition to this, most jurisdictions also require notification when a registered offender moves, changes their name, job, or student status. In terms of the amount of time that an individual remains in these databases, the length also varies depending on where you are and how serious the crime is. 

Most states have two to three tiers of sex crime severity, with a low tier offense requiring as little as ten years on the list, and the most serious crimes requiring lifetime registration.

Do I Have to Register as a Sex Offender?

Yes. If you are required to register as a sex offender, not doing so is against the law. Failing to provide information for the sex offender registry when mandated can carry fines and jail time, which can vary depending on the state. If convicted, fines can number in the thousands of dollars and jail time can be for years. You can also be punished for failing to report name and address changes as well as any other information required by law.

That being said, there are certain privacy rights guaranteed to offenders by the Constitution. Exact addresses specific to apartment numbers and street numbers are not allowed to be made public, as well as the exact address of their employer. Communities perform a balancing act with the goals of honoring a person’s rights and keeping the population safe.

What Kind of Limitations Comes with Sex Offender Status?

If you are required to register as a sex offender, you will face a number of restrictions on your freedom and choices. Once you are in the database, you will face restrictions and possible supervision around movement, especially changing residence and taking vacations. 

If you must move to another town, city, or state, you will be required to let the law enforcement in your area know, and then notify the proper authorities in your new hometown of your sex offender status so that you can be registered in their community database. 

You may also face restrictions on where you can live in your community. Each jurisdiction has rules when it comes to how close a registered sex offender can reside to vulnerable places like schools, day care centers, playgrounds, and more. You may also be barred from certain community events with vulnerable populations like recitals, plays, sporting events, and others. 

This means that you may face restrictions in attending important family events like holidays and vacations, so it is important to know the details of what being on a sex offender registration may mean for everyday life. 

Can I Get My Name Removed From A Sex Offender Registry?

It depends on the severity of the conviction and the jurisdiction you are in. More severe crimes mean that an individual will be in the database for the rest of their lives. But lower tier convictions may hold the possibility of removal, as long as your meet their eligibility requirements. 

In most places, if you feel that you are eligible for removal you must petition the court in order to do so. The court then reviews your petition to consider the circumstances surrounding your conviction, if you have completed any required treatment or counseling, and any other information that shows you are no longer a danger to the public. If approved, only then can your name and information be removed from the database.

It is important to note that while you may be removed from the sex offender database, your conviction will usually remain public record for life, especially if it is a felony conviction. Lesser convictions have a higher chance of being expunged, but this is not a common occurrence. 

Do I Need a Lawyer If I Have Issues with the Sex Offender Registry?

Sex offender registration laws – like all laws – can be difficult to understand, and can get even more complicated if you plan to move or make other changes. The rules are different in every community and violating any registration laws can mean further punishment. If you are unsure of what to do in these situations, it is best to contact an experienced criminal attorney to help guide you through the process.