What Is the National Sex Offender Registry?
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This content contains sensitive subject matter related to legal defense for crimes of a sexual nature.
The National Sex Offender Registry includes information about sex offenders in the U.S. States have individual sex offender registries that allow the public to search for sex offenders by name or location. This can include the name, photo, address, and sex crime convictions.
If you have any questions about the sex offender registry, how to find information, or how long an offender has to keep registering, talk to a sex crime defense lawyer. Most sex crimes are based on state law. A local sex crime lawyer can give you information and advice about your situation.
The National Sex Offender Registry includes the identity and location of known sex offenders from all 50 states as well as Washington, the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Native American tribal lands.
The national registry is only available to local law enforcement agencies and the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division. However, the Department of Justice maintains the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW).
This national search site includes links to state websites or tribal sex offender registries that regular people can use to search for the location of registered sex offenders. Federal, state, and local governments make this information public as a way to protect public safety.
Generally, anyone convicted of sexually violent offenses and certain other sexual acts or crimes against children is included on the registry. Under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, sex offenses are defined as criminal offenses with an element involving sexual acts or sexual contact against a minor or an attempt or conspiracy to commit that offense.
Different states and U.S. territories have different requirements as to what information to include on the National Sex Offender Registry. In general, registered sex offenders must provide, including:
- Offender’s name and any aliases
- Date of birth
- Current residence addresses and telephone numbers
- Travel and immigration documents
- Employer name and address and other employment information
- Professional licenses
- School information
- Vehicle information
- Physical description and current photograph
- Description of registration offense and a criminal history
- Fingerprints, palm prints, and DNA
- Driver’s license or state identification card
Offenders must also include temporary residence information. Offenders should also report the location of any temporary residences, such as a hotel or a relative’s home where they are staying.
In July 2008, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART) issued National Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification.
The guidelines were written to assist states in implementing the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2006 (SORNA). SORNA sets the minimum standards that states must comply with when setting up their own sex offender registries.
SORNA establishes three groups or tiers of sex offenders. Each tier indicates how long a person remains on the registry, the frequency with which the convicted sex offender needs to check in and verify the information on the registry, and the information included on the registry. The national guidelines make clear that states can always exceed SORNA requirements.
The sex offender registry is supposed to balance the safety needs of the public with the constitutional rights of registered sex offenders. Not all the information collected by the sex offender registry is available on the public website. For example, the public information does not share Social Security numbers.
You can conduct your own national sex offender search by finding the link to your state on the National Sex Offender Public Website. When you get to the sex offender registry website you need, agree to the conditions of use, enter the information in the search form, and then select “search.”
If you have complex questions involving the registry, consider speaking with a criminal defense attorney today.
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