Failure to Register as a Sex Offender
Under U.S. federal and state laws, individuals who have committed sexual offenses and been released from prison are required to register as sex offenders with the National Sex Offender Registry.
The registry is meant to increase the overall safety of American society so people can be aware of the sex offenders living in their communities. As such, it is a serious offense for sex offenders not to register themselves upon being released from prison. Doing so creates a blind spot for those who live near them.
Failing to register as a sex offender can be a state or federal crime, depending on where and under what conditions the offense took place. It’s a serious offense no matter where it happened, though, with prison sentences lasting up to 10 years.
If you have failed to register as a sex offender on federal property and need a federal sex offender attorney to defend you against the charges, call the Zoukis Consulting Group today. The faster you have us on your side, the better your chances will be in court.
What Happens When You Register as a Sex Offender?
Before we start speaking about the laws governing failing to register as a sex offender, let’s discuss what the sex offender registry is and why it exists.
The origin of the national database of sex offenders can be traced back to the 1996 Megan’s Law. This federal law was enacted in response to the rape and murder of seven-year-old Megan Kanka in New Jersey. Her murderer was a sex offender who had moved across the street without anyone knowing his criminal past.
Megan’s Law mandates that law enforcement officials release information about sexually violent persons to the public once they are living in society again.
In 2006, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act expanded and strengthened Megan’s Law. This new law, specifically the part of it called the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), made the public even safer by creating a national registration system for sex offenders.
The act lays out what information federal and state governments must collect, who must register their status, how often they must register, and the punishments for failing to register.
States define what constitutes a sex offense, but typically, these crimes include rape, sexual assault, child molestation, intentionally transmitting an STD, indecent exposure, or consensual sex between teenagers (even minors can be made to register as sex offenders).
For those who need to know how to register as a sex offender, the process is relatively straightforward. Convicted sex offenders must go to the law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where they live and register immediately. Typically, offenders must register whenever they change addresses.
What Information Is Collected on Sex Offenders?
Because SORNA is intended to help law enforcement monitor convicted sex offenders after prison release and to help neighbors know who is living near them, the resulting National Sex Offender Public Website provides basic information about sex offenders to the general populace.
The public can go to that site and find sex offenders’ names, aliases, addresses, dates of birth, physical descriptions, current photographs, and offenses for which they were imprisoned. Neighbors can use this information to make informed decisions about how they go about their lives while living near sex offenders.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Attorney General and FBI have their own database that they use to track sex offenders.
What Are the Punishments for Failing to Register as a Sex Offender?
Because SORNA is a federal law, the U.S. Code details the punishments for failing to register as a sex offender.
The requirements for registration are different for every sex offender because of how SORNA categorizes sex crimes.
Tier I Crimes
Under Tier I offenses, sex offenders must remain registered for 10 years as long as they are not found guilty of any other serious offense or sexual offense after their release. They must also complete their paroles successfully. Offenders who are convicted of another offense must remain registered for 15 years.
Tier II Crimes
Tier II sexual crimes are those carrying prison sentences of at least a year. They include sex crimes that involve coercion, sex trafficking, abusive sexual activity with a minor, transporting a victim with the intent to engage in sexual activity, soliciting a child for prostitution, and creating and disseminating child pornography. Offenders found guilty of Tier II sexual crimes must remain registered as sex offenders for 25 years.
Tier III offenses are considered the worst sexual crimes. They include aggravated sexual abuse, abusive sexual contact with a minor, or the kidnapping of a minor who was not with a guardian. These crimes can also become Tier III offenses if the individual committed them after a Tier II crime.
Those convicted of a Tier III sex crime must remain registered for life, updating their registration every time they move. They also have to have their photograph updated every 90 days.
Individuals who fail to register as sex offenders under any of these tiers commit a federal offense if their original sexual crimes were federal crimes. Sex crimes become federal if they are committed on federal lands, Indian lands, or in any other territory of the U.S. federal government.
Failing to register is also a federal crime if the individual did so while traveling in interstate or foreign commerce or entered, left, or lived in Indian lands.
Perpetrators can be fined and sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. The sentence is also 10 years for those who fail to register while engaged in traveling or intending to travel for foreign commerce.
Additionally, individuals who commit violent federal crimes relating to their failure to register can be imprisoned for 5 to 30 years.
Those are all the maximum sentences allowed, but a sex offender defense lawyer can fight the charges and perhaps get you a lesser sentence.
A Sex Offender Defense Attorney Will Help You in Court
As you have learned, failing to register as a sex offender carries significant prison time with it.
If you are facing down these charges and need a solid defense lawyer in your corner, call the Zoukis Consulting Group.
We will consult with you on your situation and fight the charges on your behalf. Our prison consultants can also advise you on surviving life in federal prison and coming out stronger than before.
When you need a criminal lawyer for a sex offender, contact us. We will set you up with a consultation and start our defense for you.
Published Feb 15, 2022 by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA | Last Updated by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA on Feb 15, 2022 at 12:25 pm