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Are there penalties if I fail to register as a sex offender?

Simply put, yes, there can be serious potential penalties and long-term consequences if a Louisianan fails to register as required as a sex offender. It is a federal crime for convicted sex offenders who are required to register with the National Sex Offender Registry to fail to do so.

Under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, known as SORNA, convicted sex offenders must register within specified time frames, as well as update their registration as required. The requirements of SORNA mandate that sex offenders must register their contact information in the jurisdictions where they are employed, attend school and reside.

Failure to register as required, or to update registration, may lead to additional criminal charges. A person convicted of failure to register, or to update his or her registration, may face the possibility of ten years in prison, as well as fines. In the event a person fails to register and subsequently commits and is convicted of a federal crime that is violent in nature, a potential prison sentence of 30 years may be hanging over the defendant's head.

One caveat to the crime of failing to register or to update registration, is that a person must knowingly fail to register or update his or her registration. If the element of "knowingly" is not present, a person has likely not committed a criminal offense. A criminal defense attorney may be able to help clarify how the law applies the term "knowingly" and whether this might be applicable in a particular case.

If a person is facing an investigation or criminal charges for failing to register or update his or her registration as a sex offender, prompt legal advice may prove advantageous.

Source: justice.gov, "Citizen's Guide to U.S. Federal Law On Sex Offender Registration," July 6, 2015

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