How Does A Sex Offender Registry Work In Most States?
If you or your loved one has been convicted of a sex crime. You may need to get yourself registered under the sex offender registry. It is also known as Megan’s law in most states. This is for public information purposes. A registry is a database that consists of your basic information and whereabouts. It is mandatory to register under the registry once you are out of prison or move to another state. The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) is a federal law on sex offender registration requirements. Each state has its own laws.
Who is a sex offender?
Any person who has committed an offense of sexual nature is a sex offender. The list of sex crimes might differ in each state. Some of those could be sexual assault, rape, child sexual abuse or pornography. Sometimes it could include less severe sexual crimes such as urination in public.
Under SORNA, there are some standards that all states must follow. Here, offenders are categorized into three levels also known as tiers. Information about tier III convicts is easily available for safety reasons.
Where should you go to register?
Usually, you should visit the nearest police station or your county sheriff’s office. You must visit within a certain period of time after your release. For example, as per California law, you must register within five days. Whereas, in Virginia, you should register within three days of release from prison. You may also need to re-register every year or if you move to another state.
What information does the registry ask for?
The majority of states ask for your name, date of birth, current residential address, contact number, email address. You may also need to declare your current employer details. You should also be photographed and give your fingerprints at the registry. Some states like South Dakota collect your DNA sample, too.
If you change your address or your workplace you should update this information with the registry within the specified time. If you fail to register, you may face a penalty or conviction. For example, in Texas failure to register is a felony offense. You could face jail time or a fine of up to $10,000.
Who uses registry information?
Information under the sex offender registry is accessible by the public. But, only law enforcement officers can see some information. Usually, employers use that information for employment purposes. Sometimes your neighbors could also find out about your past conviction. Some states such as California restrict the employment of registered sex offenders in places with persons at risk. These could be places such as day-care centers, hospitals, and retirement homes.
How long should you continue to register?
Each state has its own rules. It also depends upon the type of offense and its level. For example, in Virginia, sex offenders under tier III must register for a lifetime. But in Texas, you need to register for ten years if you committed certain sex crimes. For example, kidnapping of a child if it was the first offense. It means that you could petition to remove your name from the registry once this time has expired.
If you or a loved one has a past conviction involving a sex crime. You should know how to register under the sex offender registry in your state. It could save you or a loved one from penalty or conviction. It usually involves your personal details. People can see this information online. But, you can have your information removed from the registry after a certain period.