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Impacts of Supreme Court Decision on Sex Offender Registration

Receiving a conviction as a sex offender can have devastating consequences to both personal and professional aspects of life. Information about offenders is readily available to the public via the Sex Offender Public Website. With a simple search, a plethora of information regarding a registered sex offender is available, ranging from a picture and physical description to the registered offender’s home and work address. The registration practice began with Megan’s Law in 1996. Since then, public policy researchers, corrections officials and treatment professionals question whether the system benefits the public. These concerns are growing as the list of crimes included in the registration list expands to cover less serious crimes like consensual sex with a minor girlfriend or public urination. Regardless of these concerns, the system remains fully operable in most states. Yet in an interesting twist, the Supreme Court recently found that not all individuals with a sex crime conviction are required to enter this system. The court reviewed whether the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act required registration for those who offended before enactment. Ultimately, the justices held that registration is required for these “pre-act offenders” only after the “attorney general validly specifies that the act’s registration provisions apply.”

Implications for Defendants in Related Cases

As a result, defendants of crimes that generally require registration may not fall within the purview of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. Instead, those allegedly involved in these crimes prior to 2006 may not be required to officially register until notified to do so by the attorney general. Determining when registration is required can be difficult. As a result, if you or a loved one is struggling with a registration question it is important to contact an experienced sex crimes lawyer to ensure all your legal rights are protected.

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