Sex offender registration requirements make the sex offender stigma more tenacious than almost any other criminal offense. Federal law requires released sex offenders to register with law enforcement and further requires offenders convicted of crimes against children to verify their address to law enforcement every year. Offenders considered sexually violent predators must verify their addresses more frequently. States that do not meet these requirements are subject to reduced federal funding. Consequently, all states require some type of sex offender registration.
Under sex offender registration, offenders are required to register their addresses and other identifying information with their resident state’s law enforcement agency in most states. Most registration laws also require offenders to re-register each time they change their address. If you are concerned about your status under these rules, contact Attorney Stephen Gustitis for help and advice. A sex offender needs to register only if they have been sentenced on certain sex offenses. More serious offenders, such as sexual predators, may be required to register for life. Generally, the term “sexual predator” refers to a sex offender who is either a repeat offender, a violent offender, or an offender who victimizes children. Public access to the registration databases is a recent development. Megan’s Law, a federal act that requires the Department of Justice to maintain a database of sex offenders and the states to enact public notification laws or lose federal crime-fighting funds, opened up the information to the public in most states.
The application of each state’s Megan’s Law varies in some respects. Typically, the public may browse the contents of the state registry on the Internet or at the sheriff’s offices and police departments across the state. In some states, an active notification procedure is required, whereby residents within a certain area around a sex offender’s home are notified when the offender moves into the neighborhood. Some states offer name look-ups and some offer community searches where a list of offenders in a given area is provided. The length of time that an offender remains on the registry varies greatly from state to state.
In most states your neighbors will have access to personal information about you and your location if you are required to register. Most people assume the worst about you, even though registration can include those who violated a lesser sex offense. An experienced Bryan/College Station criminal defense lawyer understands the personal impact of being labeled a sex offender and will use their experience to provide you with the best possible defense to help you try to avoid having to register as a sex offender.
Stephen Gustitis is a criminal defense lawyer in Bryan-College Station. He is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also a husband, father, and retired amateur bicycle racer.