SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY
Most everyone has heard the term “registered sex offender” – the term is highly prevalent in news, television, and movies – but most people are unaware of exactly why the registry is open to the public, the processes behind registration, and how the registry is intended to work.
If you have been accused of a sex crime, it is important that you speak with an attorney. If you are convicted, registration on the Sex Offender Registry will impact you for the rest of your life, affecting your ability to find housing, to find and hold down steady employment, and even your image in your neighborhood and beyond.
WHY WAS THE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY CREATED?
The reasoning behind the sex offender registry seems obvious: if there are people in society who have the capability to, and/or are likely to, commit such atrocities, then the public should know who they are and where they live.
Interestingly, today’s sex offender registries are direct descendants of a program intended that began in the 1930’s as a means of tracking, identifying, and stopping the spread of the mafia into Los Angeles county.
The Mafia already exerted a dominance over many of the major metropolitan centers in the midwest and northeast. In an attempt to stop the spread into Los Angeles, Burton Fitts, the L.A. County District Attorney, proposed the idea of a “convict registration” whereby anyone who had been convicted of certain crimes would be required to register with the sheriff if they lived in the county or visited for more than five days. The original law, as well as the copy-cat laws passed in many other parts of California, covered all felonies and misdemeanor drug or weapon charges.
Shortly thereafter, Los Angeles established its Bereau of Sex Offenses (BSO). The BSO began recording fingerprints and photographs of people convicted of sex crimes, however minor, on the theory that each minor sex offender is a potential major sex criminal.
In 1940, a chapter of the PTA (yes, that PTA, the Parent-Teacher Association) passed a resolution asking that the city council require that those convicted of certain sex crimes be required to register with the “convict registration”. The crimes the PTA sought to add were child molestation, oral sex and indecent exposure. As the proposal progressed towards its eventual status as law, more crimes were included: rape; loitering around children; sodomy; and abduction of a woman for marriage or sex.
Nevada was one of the first States to follow California in establishing a similar sex-crime registry, setting up one of their own in 1961.
In 1994, the entire Nation was swept up in the rape and murder of Megan Kanka by a convicted sex offender. The ensuing public outcry led New Jersey to pass a bill, which came to be known as “Megan’s Law,” that required the State Criminal History Repository to maintain a Website containing information on serious and high-risk sex offenders. By 1996, every state in the country had passed their own version of Megan’s Law. For every offender on the registry, the website will include, when possible:
- Name and Known aliases;
- Year(s) of birth used by the offender;
- Tier level (more on this below);
- Physical description;
- Most recently updated residential address;
- Block number of employment address;
- Block number of school address;
- Conviction information to include:
- Date of convction;
- Description of conviction;
- Court of conviction;
- Name convicted under;
- Location of where the offender was incarcerated for the offense;
- Location of conviction;
- Hospital commitment for offense.
Please Note: While the registry is updated regularly, it may not contain the most recent addresses for residence, employment, or school.
In 2005, the National Sex Offender Public Registry was established to link public state, territorial and tribal sex offender registries into on national website. Later renamed the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website, this site is run by the United State Department of Justice and allows a search of sex offenders by:
- Name – either nationally or within a specific jurisdiction;
- Address, if the jurisdiction allows;
- Zip Code;
Please Note: While the U.S. D.O.J. runs the National Sex Offender Public Website, the information is still hosted by the individual states and the jurisdictions within them. Consequently, the search criteria are liminted to what each individual jurisdiction may provide.
WHAT IS THE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Sex Offender Registry serves as a public database of those deemed to be moderate-to-high risk sex offenders. The main purpose of the database is so that the public can know if there are sexual offenders in their neighborhood – typically parents checking for the safety of their children.
How is it determined if someone is a “moderate-to-high” risk sex offender?
When someone is convicted of a sex crime, the offender is evaluated by medical and pyschological professionals who then rate the offender in one of 4 Tiers:
TIER 0: This is the lowest Tier and is sometimes call No Risk. It is for offenders who have committed a misdemeanor, and sometimes even a gross misdemeanor, in Nevada and are not expected to commit another offense. Because they are not expected to re-offend, they are not included in the Registry.
TIER 1: Tier 1 offenders are often referred to as Low Risk offenders. As with the Tier 0 offenders, their information is not publishedin the registry because they are deemed very unlikley to re-offend, or pose a threat to public safety. However, this does not mean that you will not have to register if convicted. If you are convicted and deemed a Tier 1 offender, you will still be required to register, but the information will not be listed on the website, or published to the public in any way. Rather, your information will only be provided to persons authorized to receive the information, generally this includes law enforcement officers, prosecutors and courts.
TIER 2: Tier 2 offenders are also called Moderate Risk offenders because their evaluation shows a probability of re-offending. Consequently, their information is searchable using the Nevada Sex Offender Registry. Tier 2 offenders are generally those who are either:
- Repeat offenders whose previous offense was a Tier 1, and whose current offense is punishable by at least 1 year of imprisonment; or
- One of the following crimes against a child:
- Luring a child, if punishable as a felony;
- Sexual abuse or exploitation of a minor 13 years old or more;
- Sex trafficking or prostitution;
- Any offense involving pornography and a minor; or
- Any other offense that is comparable to, or worse than, the Federal Definition of a Tier II offender (which are essentially the same as those listed here. In trial, the jury will be called upon to determine if the crime is comparable to, or worse, than those listed above).
Please Note: this definition is intentionally broad and gives the prosecution a lot of “gray area” to have an offender deemed Tier 2 if they so desire. If you want to know if a particular crime will be considered a Tier 2, look to the morals of your community, as it will be up to the jury, chosen from your jurisdiction.
TIER 3: Tier 3 offenders are referred to as High Risk because they pose a substantial risk of re-offending. Consequently, they are published in the Nevada Sex Offender Registry. Tier 3 offenders have typically been convicted of one of the following crimes:
- First degree murder committed while attempting to commit sexual assault, sexual abuse, or sexual molestation of a child under 14 years of age;
- Sexual Assault (Rape or attempted rape);
- Battery with intent to commit Sexual Assault;
- Sexual abuse or exploitation of a child under 13 years of age at the time of the offense;
- Kidnapping, if the victim was younger than 18 at the time of the offense;
- Any sexual offense or crime against a child after the offender has already been deemed a Tier 2 Offender;
- Any other offense that is comparable to, or more severe than, those described in the Federal definition of Tier III (again, this is essentially the same list as above and creates a broad definition for what constitutes a Tier 3 offense);
- Any offense committed in another State that would have been a Tier 3 if committed in Nevada (this includes offenses that occur on Tribal land, or that are prosexured in Federal Court or by the Armed Forces).
Please Note: An attempt to commit any of the Tier 3 offense, or the conspiracy to commit any of the Tier 3 offenses, is still considered a Tier 3 offense.
I’VE BEEN CONVICTED OF A SEX OFFENSE, WHAT NOW?
That depends on your case: what you were convicted of, your history, etc. In general, any sex crime against a child will require that you register with the Nevada Sex Offender Registry.
HOW AND WHEN DO I REGISTER?
Generally, you are required to register with the Nevada Sex Offender Registry within 48 hours of either being released from incarceration, or moving into Nevada.
You can register at any local law enforcement agency.
If you move after registration, you are required to inform the authorities of the change of address.
Also, once you are registered, every year you must submit a completed verification form to the Criminal History Repository.
If you fail to submit the verification, or to notify authorities of a change of address, or simply refuse to register in the first place:
- You can be charged with a category D felony;
- You may serve 1-4 years in a Nevada State Prison; and
- You may be fined up to $5,000.
If you fail to subsequently register within 7 years:
- You can be charged with a catergory C felony;
- You may serve 1-5 years in a Nevada State Prison; and
- You may be fined up to $10,000.
Please Note: if you have violated any of the above terms for registration, both the DMV and the Gaming Control Board will refuse to issue you a license.
WHAT IF I DON’T REGISTER?
In Nevada, failing to fulfill the requirements of the sex offender registry is illegal. Regardless of whether you do so intentionally or unintentionally, it is a crime to:
- Fail to register with a local law enforcement agency within 48 hours of being released from custody;
- Fail to register with local law enforcement, or to notify local law enforcement, within 48 hours of any change of name, address, employment, or student status;
- Fail to notify local law enforcement of a stay of longer than 30 days in their jurisdiction;
- Fail to complete the annual verification form; or
- Provide false or misleading information to the Registry or to local law enforcement.
If you have failed to register, or to fulfill any of the above requirements, for the first time, the judge may either grant probation or:
- Sentence you to 1-4 years in a Nevada State Prison; and/or
- Up to $5,000 in fines.
If you subseqently fail to register again within 7 years, you will be charged with a category C felony, and the judge:
- Cannot impose probation;
- Must sentence you to 1-5 years in Nevada State Prison; and
- Up to $10,000 in fines.
Please Note: If your reason for failing to reguster was accidental and not intentional, the judge can consider that when determining the severity of your punishment. If you accidentally forgot to register, and did not intentionally do so, the judge may impose a less severe punishment. You should speak to an attorney as soon as possible; an experienced attorney is likely to know the judges in your jurisdiction and will be able to plead your case better than if you try to do so on your own.
Please Note: If you fail to register, and you are charged with doing so, that charge will be a separate crime from the underlying offense that required you to register in the first place. As a result, failure to register counts as another “strike” under Nevada’s habitual felon law.
HOW LONG WILL I BE ON THE REGISTRY?
Without knowing the specifics of your case, it is impossible to accurately estimate how long you will be required to register. The length of time your information will be on the registry is determined on a case-by-case basis. Some offenders are on the registry for as little as a year, others for their entire lives. It is important that you speak with an attorney regarding the specifics of your case in order to determine the possible length of time you will be required to register.
HOW DO I GET MY NAME REMOVED FROM THE REGISTRY?
Nevada is one of only 8 states that is currently in line with the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. This Act was an attempt to standardize removal laws by setting specified time time-frames, for each tier, after which the offender can petition to be removed from the registry.
- Tier 1 offenders can petition for removal after 10 years of a clean record (stayed out of trouble and properly registered;
- Tier 2 offenders can petition for removal afer 25 years of a clean record;
- Tier 3 offenders must remain on the registry for life.
Please Note: This list does not determine the time after which an offender will be removed from the list, but rather, when the offender can petition the court and request that they be removed.
HOW CAN I CHECK THE REGISTRY?
There are a number of ways you can contact the registry:
- Web: Nevada Sex Offender Registry – www.nvsexoffenders.gov
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Mail: Nevada Criminal History Repositor 333 West Nye Lane, Ste. 100 Carson City, NV 89706
- Phone: (775) 684-6262
- Fax: (775) 684-6266.
Through any of these means, you can search the Registry in any of the following ways:
- Last name;
- Name and address;
- Social Security Number;
- Zip Code;
- License plate number and state.
WHAT DO I DO IF I’VE BEEN ACCUSED OF A SEX CRIME?
The most important thing for you to do is contact an attorney. The severity of the consequences for sex crimes is such that having an attorney who has represented other alleged sex crime offenders is imperative.