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The Sex Offender Registry: Should the Way in Which it is Used Be Changed?

September 13, 2016, on Articles |

If you are convicted of an offense and put on the sex offender registry because of it, you could face ongoing requirements to alert law enforcement if you move, start a new school program or get a new job. You could be restricted in where you work and where you live, and your name could be published so all of your neighbors and potential employers discover you are a convicted sex offender. The far-reaching consequences of being put on the registry are serious and life-changing.

Unfortunately, far too many people are ending up on the registry for very minor offenses. Anyone who has been accused of a crime where sex is a component in the offense should be sure to get legal help from a New York sex crimes defense attorney so you can do everything possible to avoid being put on the registry.

Re-evaluating the Way the Sex Offender Registry is Used

Recently, the New York Daily News put forth an argument for why changes need to be made as to how the sex offender registry is used in the United States.  So, what’s the problem? It is far too easy for someone to be put on the registry, especially given the severe ramifications that go along with required registration.

One example given was the case of a 19-year-old who exposed himself in the football team's yearbook picture on a teammate's dare. No one knew about the prank until the yearbook had been published and circulated, and when the prank was discovered, the teen was facing 69 counts of indecent exposure.

This was one count for every staff member and student present when the picture was taken and a conviction for these 69 counts could have meant the teen would end up on the sex offender's registry. 

In that case, the “victims” declined to press charges, so the teen was not charged. In many other situations, however, people who engage in other similarly minor acts of wrongdoing do end up on the sex offender registry.

Sex offender registries were created with the ostensible goal of promoting public safety by alerting the public to someone who could present a danger. There were several theories that justified the creation of registries, including an assumption that most offenders are strangers, as well as an assumption that someone who is a sex offender once will always be a sex offender. 

The problem is, neither of these things are true.  Studies have shown just five percent of sex offenders who are released from prison are re-arrested within three years, while the overall re-arrest rate for all prisoners within three years is 67.8 percent. Further, in 93 percent of cases where a minor is abused, the abuser is a relative or a family friend, not a stranger.

If the registry is not providing the expected protections and too many people are being put on it (with 843,260 registered offenders nationwide as of 2015), perhaps it is time to make some changes.  Unless and until that happens, however, anyone accused of a sex crime will need to fight hard with the help of a skilled sex crimes defense attorney to try to stay off the registry. Contact The Law Office of James E. Tyner, PLLC today for help.