Being on the Sex Offender Registry Can Affect Your Entire Life

Certain criminal convictions require individuals to be placed on lists, due to their crimes being considered a threat to the general public. For example, the United States has “no-fly” lists for anyone who has raised concerns of being potentially tied to terrorism. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) maintains a list of the ten most wanted fugitives. Even many stores and restaurants typically have a list of people who pass bad checks hanging behind the counter.

Also included are people convicted of certain sex crimes can end up on a state and/or federal sex offender registry. Depending on the evidence and severity of the charges, the right criminal defense attorney will understand how to leverage your case to negotiate a lower charge that may keep you off that list.

Criminal convictions determine the tier of the sex offender registry

Maryland maintains a very long list of sex offense convictions that can put an individual on the sex offender registry. Broadly, however, this is a three-tiered system:

  • People required to register for Tier I must remain on the list for 15 years. Tier I typically includes those charged with fourth-degree sex offenses, child pornography possession, trafficking, and video surveillance.
  • Tier II includes convictions of third-degree sex offenses, distributing child pornography, and trafficking or sale of a minor. Individuals must remain on this list for 25 years.
  • Finally, Tier III individuals must remain on the sex registry for the rest of their lives. Convictions qualifying for this tier include rape, incest, assault with intent to rape, murder with intent to rape, and similar crimes.

As you can you can see, even a Tier I conviction lands you on the sex offender registry for a full 15 years. This means, even after you have served your time in the criminal justice system, your conviction will follow you wherever you go for more than a decade.

What happens when I am placed on the sex offender registry?

If you are convicted of a sex crime, you may serve time in jail and pay a fine – but the consequences will not end there. When you get out, finding a job and a place to live may be difficult, which means your troubles are just beginning. Some of the challenges you may face include:

  • You will be required to register as a sex offender with the state, which will place your name, current photo, address, date of birth and other information to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Service, along with your conviction information. This information is accessible to the public.
  • You may be required to attend a counseling or treatment program, and take a polygraph test, which will be paid out of your own pocket. You’ll also waive your privacy when it comes to that information being made available to agencies and individuals controlling your sentence conditions or parole.
  • You cannot have any contact with the victim or anyone under the age of 18 unless you are given permission.
  • Failure to register, and re-register, can cost thousands in penalties and prison time.
  • You will agree to giving up your privacy and having searches conducted of yourself, your residence, and any vehicle you drive or own.
  • You may not be allowed to own electronic devices; if you are, those may all be subject to being searched at any time, too.
  • You may be forced to abide by a curfew.
  • You may lose custody and visitation rights with your children.
  • You may be exempt from certain educational and career opportunities because of your status.

A sex offender registry creates major hardships in your life, affecting your freedom and ability to live the life you choose. Further, anyone can be required to register as a sex offender – even your child. Children under age 18 can be forced to register as a sex offender if convicted of certain offenses, which means they can even be banned from attending school.

Maryland’s juvenile courts maintain a separate registry, but it is a registry nonetheless. Only law enforcement has access to the juvenile registry, and they are removed from the list upon reaching age 21. Note that this is only when your child has been charged as a juvenile. If you have questions about your child’s case, our defense attorney is happy to provide guidance.

You need to seek experienced legal counsel if there is even a whiff of potential accusation of a sex crime, let alone an actual charge.

Can I be removed from the sex offender registry?

In certain and specific cases, yes. To remove your name from the registry, you must have completed your required period for your corresponding tier. Or, you can show the court one of the following:

  • A copy of a formal court order vacating or reversing your conviction
  • A copy of a formal court order expunging your conviction
  • A copy of a governor’s pardon for your conviction

We understand that a punishment should match the crime, but we do not believe that a criminal act should follow an individual around for the rest of their life – especially after they have served their time. Our legal team works to ensure a conviction never occurs in the first place.

At Carey Law Office, our goal is protecting your rights to the fullest extent under the law. If you are facing sex crime charges, we can help you fight. Talk to our experienced attorney about securing strategic and proactive defensive. We serve clients in Bowie, Crofton, and Owings, as well as Calvert County. Schedule a consultation by calling 301-464-2500 or filling out our contact form.