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What is the National Sex Offender Registry?

Sex offender registries are discussed in common parlance but you may wonder what they are and what the reporting requirements are for sex offenders. Because sex offense crimes vary by state, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act categorizes sex offenses into tiers based on the length of prison term under the law, the age of the victim, any aggravating circumstances and other factors. There are 3 tiers and each of the tiers imposes certain reporting requirements on the sex offender. The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act is part of comprehensive federal law and requires states to maintain a system to track and monitor sex offenders following their release back into the community.

The National Sex Offender Registry links public, state, territorial and tribal sex offender registries into one national site that is searchable through the National Sex Offender Registry Website. It provides up-to-date sex offender information provided by separate jurisdictions. In addition, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act requires sex offenders to register with state authorities and it is a federal crime under the law to knowingly fail to do so. It is also a federal crime to fail to update registration details according to the requirements of the law.

In addition, the law provides that sex offenders who knowingly fail to register or update their registration according to the requirements imposed upon them by the law can be prosecuted for their failure to do so and face further potential penalties and negative consequences. Sex offenders who fail to knowingly register or update information may face fines and up to 10 years incarceration. Sex offense allegations and charges can have a lifelong impact on individuals accused of a sex crime. Though charges related to sex offenses may sometimes be complex and challenging, it is important for individuals charged with a sex crime to recognize that all of their criminal defense rights are available to them.

Because of the serious consequences associated with being charged with a sex crime, it is important for accused individuals to be familiar with their criminal defense rights and how to summon them. Criminal defense protections are available to anyone charged with a crime and can help form the basis of a strong criminal defense strategy.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, "About NSOPW," Accessed Nov. 23, 2016

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