The Impact of New Guidelines for Sex Offender Registries

When sex offenders are released from prison, in addition to re-acclimating to society, they have to take extra steps to register their names, addresses and other identifying information with the local authorities where they wish to live. Often, they must live beyond a certain distance from schools and parks.

In addition to sex offender registration requirements, communities have the legal discretion to provide public website postings of sex offender information. Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued modifications and guidelines to the local sex offender registration and notification programs that affect the public posting of sex offender information. The guidelines are called SORNA, which stands for Supplemental Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification.

The sex offender registry requires that an offender provide vital information such as name, address, employment information, school, criminal history, aliases, date of birth, phone numbers, Social Security number, and all Internet identifiers. The sex offender’s Social Security number, phone numbers, Internet addresses, passport information and any reference to arrests that did not result in convictions must be exempted from public disclosure. The public, however, can post an email address or phone number to the public registry to see if it is registered to a sex offender.

The information supplied by the offender is to be shared with various specified entities and individuals. States are given discretion to exempt juvenile delinquency adjudications from public websites unless the offense constituted a serious sex offense.

Under SORNA, convicted sex offenders must also notify the jurisdiction in which they live of any intended international travel or of any anticipated lodging away from their residence for at least seven days. If a previous offender is outside the court system and not registered, a conviction for any new felony would require jurisdictions to now register the offender.

The new guidelines do place additional restrictions on sex offenders and probably prevent them from any employment that requires travel. They only have three business days after each change of residence, employment or name to update these changes or face a federal conviction that could send them back to prison for up to 10 years.

With so many requirements, it is easy to miss certain deadlines, notice requirements or inadvertently omit information, increasing the chances re-incarceration. For help with sex offender registration requirements, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.