US Sex Offender Registry: How it Works
As of 2020, there are approximately 750,000 registered sex offenders in the United States with Texas having the highest number of sex offenders in the country. Like in other countries around the world, the US operates a sex offender registry that allows authorities to keep track of individuals who have registered as sex offenders. The registry allows you to discover who is a registered sex offender, and here is what you need to know about the sex offender registry in the US and how to discover who is in it.
What is a Sex Offender?
A sex offender is an individual who has committed a sex crime, under the definition of federal and state laws. The definition of sex crimes differs between states and jurisdictions, so what constitutes a sex crime in one state will not necessarily be considered a crime in another state. Most of the registered sex offenders are individuals who have been convicted of crimes of a sexual nature while others are those who violated a law under a sexual category.
The Sex Offender Registry in the United States
In the United States, each state has a sex offender registry, and there is also a federal sex offender registration system. Sex offender registries contain data about individuals who have been convicted of committing sexual offenses, and the purpose of the sex offender registry is to notify the public of such individuals.
A person who has been convicted of committing a sex crime must register with local law enforcement agencies once he/she is released into the community, after serving their sentence. Sex offenders must re-register themselves once a year, depending on the nature of their crimes and state laws in their state of residence. The goal of the re-registration is to allows law enforcement agencies to be informed on the location of sex offenders. In the great majority of cases, information about registered sex offenders is available to the public. Data about Tier I sex offenders will not always be accessible to the public, depending on the nature of their crimes and a judge's ruling.
Sex Offender Registration Tiers
Sex offenders are classified into different tiers that affect the duration of registration, based on the nature of sex crimes:
Tier I sex offenders: tier I sex offenders must register themselves for 15 years, a duration that can be reduced to 10 years if the sex offender keeps a clean record.
Tier II sex offenders: tier II sex offenders must register themselves for 25 years. Such individuals are sex offenders who have committed a crime: (1) involving sexual contact or a sexual act with another (2) crimes against minors of a specific nature (3) specified military crimes and federal crimes (4) conspiracy or an attempt to commit one of the above.
Tier III sex offenders: tier III sex offenders must register for life unless they are juveniles, in which case the registration is for 25 years.
How to Find Sex Offenders in the United States?
If you want to find sex offenders in the United States, you can perform a sex offender search in one of the following ways:
1. National Sex Offender Public Website – the website is updated frequently and provides information about registered sex offenders in every state, including certain territories: Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands. You can perform the search by either entering an individual's name into the search field or by using the location-based search on the website.
2. State sex offender registries – for a more localized sex offender search, you can search registered sex offenders in state registries. Type in the name of a state along with the term "sex offenders" into a search engine, such as Google, and you will receive information about sex offenders in said state. For example: "Alabama sex offenders".
3. Public records search – if you want to find out if a particular individual is a registered sex offender, you can perform a public records search. Data about sex offenders is a matter of public record, meaning you can access it at all times. For a quick and accurate sex offender search, you can use public records search sites, like ProPeopleSearch.com. To learn more about an individual's criminal sexual past, you must enter their full name and state of residence into the search bar. The directory will scan public records of said individual, and provide you with a public records report that includes, among other information, whether he/she is a registered sex offender.
Sex offender registration allows the public to be made aware of those who have committed sex crimes, and take the necessary precautions upon discovery. With annual sex offender registration programs, you can find out who is a registered sex offender and make well-informed decisions based on the information you have.