Federal Sex Offender Registration


Under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), a “sex offense” includes (among other things) any “criminal offense that has an element involving a sexual act or sexual contact with another.” 18 U.S.C. § 16911(5)(a). (Question: does “with another” modify “sexual act” or only “sexual contact”?)

A “sex offender” is a person who was convicted of a sex offense. 18 U.S.C. §16911(1). (Question: will the states’ definitions of “conviction” govern, as in the federal firearms law, or will a deferred adjudication probation count as a conviction?)

All sex offenders must register, 18 U.S.C. §16913(1), providing at least the following information (18 U.S.C. §16914(a)):

  1. The name of the sex offender (including any alias used by the individual).
  2. The Social Security number of the sex offender.
  3. The address of each residence at which the sex offender resides or will reside.
  4. The name and address of any place where the sex offender is an employee or will be an employee.
  5. The name and address of any place where the sex offender is a student or will be a student.
  6. The license plate number and a description of any vehicle owned or operated by the sex offender.

The duty to register lasts for at least ten years for the least serious (“Tier I”) sex offenses, and for up to life for the most serious (“Tier III”) sex offenses 18 U.S.C. §16915.

Once an offender registers, the jurisdiction with which he has registered must:

make available on the Internet, in a manner that is readily accessible to all jurisdictions and to the public, [most] information about each sex offender in the registry. The jurisdiction shall maintain the Internet site in a manner that will permit the public to obtain relevant information for each sex offender by a single query for any given zip code or geographic radius set by the user. The jurisdiction shall also include in the design of its Internet site all field search capabilities needed for full participation in the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website and shall participate in that website as provided by the Attorney General.

18 U.S.C. §16918.

The mentioned “Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website” “shall include relevant information for each sex offender and other person listed on a jurisdiction’s Internet site. The Website shall allow the public to obtain relevant information for each sex offender by a single query for any given zip code or geographical radius set by the user.” 18 U.S.C. §16920.

The federal penalty for failing to register as a sex offender is up to ten years’ imprisonment.

Welcome to the brave new world of federal sex offender registration.

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0 responses to “Federal Sex Offender Registration”

  1. I have been watching the registry issue for the last few years due to my son having gotten himself in the registry´s clutches. I have been saying that the current state of this area of law is a moving target. The problem is that it is moving in the wrong direction. Mark´s post about the federal SORNA only scratches the surface of this flawed statute. Other blogs exist that go into more detail.

    Will we as a nation come to our senses in time for the current generation of offenders?

    George

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