What is it like to register as a sex offender?


  1. No, do not need answer fast!
  2. No specific jurisdiction is indicated. Yes, I know that the procedure may vary between states, I’m interested in whatever states you know about.
  3. This is not a thread to debate the merits of sex offender registries, to debate the morality of underlying sex crimes (including debates over reforming the age of consent), or to argue that such-and-such offender should or should not be required to register. If you want to do that, please open a thread in GD.

The sex offender registry has become a hot topic nowadays with a lot of heated emotions and mud-flinging. I’m curious as to how the sex offender registry works on a day-to-day basis with respect to the people required to register. When an ex-offender is “required to register”, how does this actually work from their perspective? What do they have to do? How hard is it? Is it relatively simple procedure of going to a nearby government office and signing your name and address in a big book by the door, or is it like the stereotypical DMV with complex multipart forms with confusing and vague instructions, long wait times, and surly employees who finally send you away empty-handed because you didn’t bring proof of mother’s maiden name?

In my jurisdiction, the Texas Department of Public Safety, or DPS (state law enforcement) oversees the Sex Offender Registration Program as a whole, and local law enforcement organizations are responsible for registering the offender and reporting to DPS. When an offender is placed on probation or released from prison, he is responsible for registering with the primary registration authority for any area that he (or she) intends to reside for more than 7 days. This is frequently the local law enforcement agency for the municipality (i.e., local police department), but can also be the county law enforcement agency (i.e. county sheriff’s office) if the offender doesn’t reside in a municipality. The primary registration authority then reports it to DPS. The actual process of registration will vary depending on who the primary registration authority is; in a smaller municipality or county it may be a matter of minutes, in a larger city it may be longer.

The offender then has to go back to the primary registration authority periodically to verify their registration information, either annually, every 90 days, or every 30 days, depending on the number of convictions and whether the offenses are classified as a sexually violent offense. Verification is typically a matter of providing photo ID, providing a photograph, and signing a form saying that the offender’s information has not changed. If the offender moves he is required to notify the primary registration authority of the move within 7 days. The offender is also required to notify the primary registration authority within 7 days of a name change, a change in physical health such as hospitalization, a change in job status, or a change in educational status. Failure to register is a felony.

Here’s the Canadian regulations.

How serious a sex offense does it take to land on a registry like this?

Do convicted prostitutes have to register?

Do convicted prostitutes’ customers have to register?

I am in New Jersey, the originator of Megan’s Law. I handle the registrations in my town. It is almost identical to what pravnik said. For instance its 10 days for us rather than 7.

Some misconceptions (NJ Specific but probably close for most)… I hear all the time, “My friend got caught peeing on a building and now he has to register for the rest of his life!” Your friend is lying to you. In order to have to register you have to have been convicted of one of the following offenses: Aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, kidnapping, endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of the child, luring or enticing, criminal sexual contact criminal restraint, or false imprisonment if the victim is a minor and the offender is not the parent of the victim; knowingly promoting prostitution of a child or an attempt to commit any of these offenses. Flashing, exposing yourself, pissing on a wall or even jerking off in a school yard is lewdness and is not a Megan’s Law offense.

Not every offender can be found online. We have 3 tiers. Those tiers are set by the county based on the danger of recidivism. If you are Tier 1 you have to check in periodically but your name does not appear on any public lists. If you are Tier 2 your name and offense is on the state database and schools in the area are notified. If you are Tier 3 notification in made in person to everyone in your neighborhood. Generally those bad enough for Tier 3 are in jail. I have never had a Tier 3.

In general the Tier status correlates to how often they have to report in, 365, 90 or 30 days. But not always. I’ve had Tier 1’s that have to report every 90 days and Tier 2’s that are 365. I have no control over that, its set at the county level.

Pretty serious.



Only if you are pimping children.

What pravnik and Loach said. States will vary, for example in Missouri only Sheriff’s offices register offenders.

Check back with me in about 2 weeks, though…through a miracle of bureaurocracy I’m about to become an expert on the topic.

As a trainer, not a sex offender.

Those who can’t do teach?

What if the person leaves the state?
I assume there are reciprocal arrangements?
(How is that legal? Do states have jurisdiction to register someone for a crime not committed in their state?)

In Oklahoma registerd sex offenders are prohibited from living within 2,000 feet of a school, playground or park. In many, if not most, communities, the area where sex affenders are allowed to live (the so-called “green zone”) is actually much smaller than areas where they are excluded. The upshot of this is that it is so difficult for these people to find a place to live that many of them end up homeless (and thus more difficult to track), and the ones who are able to find housing end up concentrated in certain areas of the city.

Its legal because there are federal laws that mandate it. In particular the 1997 Jacob Wetterling Improvements Act.Here is a list of the federal laws dealing with sex offender registration.

The Canadian Supreme Court is dealing with an appeal of a conviction for a person on Canada’s sex offender registry. He was convicted of aggravated sexual assault after he confessed to his (ex)girlfriend that he put holes in the condoms hoping a baby would keep them together. Obviously one of the types that needs to stay 2,000 feet from a school.

Threatened with Sex Offender Registry for Streaking at Football Game, Teenage Boy Commits Suicide

Children-teens are being made sex offenders for minor infractions in huge scary numbers-thus having their lives ruined!

At least 29 states require teenagers who have had consensual sex with each other to register as sex offenders, according to the Human Rights Watch Report from 2007

As usual, a good idea reduced to absurdity by pandering politicians.

(Bolding mine)

You get put on a sex offender registry for kidnapping or false imprisonment? Even if there was no sexual assault? (I mean, presumably if there WAS sexual assault, they would be convicted of that in addition to kidnapping, right?)

What’s the deal with that?

Years ago here in California when I was getting my security clearance, I went to the Sheriff’s Office to get fingerprinted and waited with other men who were there to get registered as sex offenders. It seemed like a fairly organized process for them based on what I observed waiting my turn to be fingerprinted for normal reasons…

On renewals they now allow you to do the fingerprinting at outside approved vendors so I didn’t get to interact with the sex offender population again…

Kidnapping or false imprisonment of a child by someone not their parent. Sorry I didn’t clarify.

Your presumption might not be correct. I’ve seen many cases that involved both sexual assault charges and either burglary or kidnapping charges result in a conviction only on the non-sex offense. The sentencing ranges were similar and a guilty plea on the burglary spared the defendant the consequences of a sex offense conviction and also spared the victim from having to testify. I’m not sure if it still happens now that those convictions result in registration, but when the requirements came into effect in my state (1996, I think) anyone who was still incarcerated or under supervision for a listed offense had to register. So someone still under supervision in 1996 for a kidnapping conviction from 1982 was required to register.

I’m not sure what you are getting at. The registration comes after conviction. It makes no difference what you were originally charged with. Of course there are plea bargains for lesser charges sometimes to avoid Megan’s Law. But kidnapping and false imprisonment are not one of the offenses included in the statute because sexual assault might be plead away. Its there because abducting a child even without a sexual assault was deemed to be on the same level as the other crimes. As I mentioned, this does not include non-custodial parents taking there own kids against court orders. This is stranger abduction.

Well, I can certainly see how it’s better to be safe than sorry with kidnappers/false imprisoners, particularly of children – it seems like the kind of person who kidnaps a child and/or holds them prisoner is exactly the sort of person that these laws were designed to warn the community about. I presume that’s why they are required to register as sex offenders regardless – people want to be warned about that kind of person.

What I’m getting at is that when my state began registering sex offenders around 1996 anyone who was still serving a sentence for the specified crimes had to register even when the conviction was years before there was such a thing as registration , and although I can’t say for sure, it’s entirely possible that it was because of the previous plea bargaining. I’m not at all sure that it’s because kidnapping and custodial interference were deemed to be at the same level as the other crimes (I know in my state murder, even of an unrelated child under any circumstances is a not registerable offense ) rather than because those two crimes are often part of a sex offense- you can have a kidnapping or unlawful imprisonment without a sex offense, but there are few rapes that don’t include restraining someone’s movement.

No one has done an “Ask the Sex Offender” thread yet? :slight_smile: