Over the last several years, there has been a national effort in the United States at the state and federal level to make and implement penalties incurred by individuals convicted of sex crimes and certain sex related offenses in particular. A major post release penalty incurred by these individuals is the mandatory inclusion on the sex offender registry.
All 50 states of the United States of America have sex offender registries. These registries contain information that publicly identifies people convicted of sexual offenses including rape, sexual assault and molestation. In most cases, the public can view information such as mug shots, conviction information, current address and place of employment, registered vehicles and other identifying information about the offenders. Being on the sex offender registry can also potentially come with a series of reporting requirements, possibly for a lifetime.
There is evidence that shows that the sex offender registry provides important public safety information. However, some believe they are inordinately restrictive to certain individuals and are overly complicated. Not everyone on the sex offender registry is a rapist or child molester. Some are individuals convicted of bygone offenses that are now legal. Gay men convicted of sodomy in 1976 can still appear in the sex offender registry, or in certain cases, eighteen year olds can have charges laid against them for being sexually involved with willing participants who were only a year younger than them. After the sex offender database become publicly accessible in the wake of “Megans Law,” a name for a federal law that passed after the rape and murder of 7 year old Megan Kanka, it became mandatory for law enforcement to make information regarding registered sex offenders available to the public. The social consequences for individuals on the sex offender database were tremendous, making it harder for them to find employment or rent a home.
Is it possible to remove your name from the sex offender registry?
Individuals convicted of sexual offenses are registered into three categories: Tier 1, 2 and 3. Tier 1 is generally reserved for those convicted of non-violent sexual crimes. Tier 2 is for non-violent but serious involvement in the illegal sex trade, such as human trafficking. Tier 3 is for aggravated sexual assault and crimes involving violence or kidnapping. The required time period on the sex offender database is based on which tier you are placed in.
- Tier 1 offenders have to have their names on the database for a period of at least 15 years.
- Tier 2 offenders have to have their names on the database for a period of at least 25 years.
- Tier 3 offenders have a lifetime requirement of having their names on the sex offender database.
Rules pertaining to sex offender registration vary from state to state. Some states have a lifetime requirement for registration as a sex offender. Some states have waiting periods or other regulations about removal from the database. However, even in cases where eventual removal is a possibility, you and the crime you were convicted of must meet certain criteria. You are only eligible for removal from the database if you:
- Were convicted of a relatively minor crime
- Were a juvenile convicted of an offense related to consensual relations or a crime of less severity
- Are awarded a reversal on appeal
- Successfully complete a deferred adjudication program
However, it is important to remember that this criterion can and does vary greatly from state to state. Generally, the people most likely to successfully get their names removed from the registry are those whose cases can be put into the following categories:
• Romeo and Juliet cases (cases involving consensual sexual contact)
• Juvenile offenders
• Individuals convicted of crimes that are no longer illegal or no longer require registration
• Tier 1 and Tier 2 offenders no longer considered a threat to public safety
How can you get your name removed from the sex offender registry?
Typically, if you are eligible, you have to file a petition for removal with the court. Depending on the state where you live, your petition will be reviewed by a judge or agency panel, and they will then issue a decision. It is important to remember that once you file a petition, it will be very likely the only opportunity you will have to get your name removed from the registry.
However, the court must be satisfied that you are rehabilitated and that you pose no current or potential threat to the safety of the public. Many states require a history of ongoing compliance with its registration requirements; a single mistake can result in denial of your request.
Removing your name from the sex offender registry is not an easy process. You can take a great deal of advantage from a lawyer experienced in defending sex offenders. Most states impose rigorous requirements for removal and a layman can’t handle navigating through them by himself. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to ensure you go through all the motions correctly and present a compelling case in your favor to the court.
The penalties, both legal and social for those convicted of sexual offenses, seem to be on the rise nationwide and will seemingly continue to rise for some time. If your name and information is on the sex offender database, it very likely has had a great impact on your lifestyle and future career and social opportunities. The sex offender registry ensures that not just serious sexual predators and repeat violent offenders suffer but also those who made a one-time mistake. It is possible to find a way out of a lifetime of consequences for a few moments lack of judgement, or a conviction based on a legal technicality. If your life has been severely negatively affected from having your name and information on the sex offender database, you can and must act now. Seek out a criminal defense attorney who is experienced with defending sex offenders, specifically cases pertaining to sex offender registry, and explore your options with him or her.