If you have been convicted of a sex-related crime that has gotten you listed on the sex offender registry, there’s no doubt that your life has gotten more complicated. There are lots of places where you can’t live, and lots of places where you can’t work—and because these registries are public, anyone who looks you up will be able to see your name on the list, and will likely treat you differently as a result.
The complicated part is that there are many different actions that classify as sex offenses, and the registry does not differentiate between them—which means that in some cases, an adult male who slept with a minor who lied about her age, or even a man who unadvisedly slapped a woman’s behind, might have the same black mark on their record as a convicted serial rapist. If you feel you are on this list unfairly, how do you get off the sex offender registry?
Well, to be clear, if you have been convicted of a violent, non-consensual sex crime (like rape), or have committed an obvious crime of a sexual nature against a child, chances are your name is going to stay on that registry for however long the government says it can be there. That’s precisely what the registry is for, and very rarely do predatory or violent sexual offenders get removed from that list.
However, there are instances in which people who have committed non-violent or “lesser” sexual offenses may apply to be removed from the sex offender registry. For example:
- If your sexual offense is of a non-violent or consensual nature. (Examples might include being caught in indiscreet moment with a lover, consensual sex between teenagers “straddling the line” between minor and adult, or perhaps indecent exposure in a moment of drunkenness.)
- If the laws governing your offense have changed since your conviction. (For example, consensual sex between same-sex individuals was once illegal, and now it’s not. Also, some states are attempting to make their rules more fair, to prevent lesser sexual offenses from qualifying for the registry.)
If you believe your name is on the registry unfairly, and/or if your offense is non-violent, victimless or no longer illegal, it may be possible to have your name removed. If you desire to do this, you need an expert criminal defense attorney to represent your interests to guide you through the nuances of the law and the paperwork involved. For help with applying to get off the sex offender registry, call the Federal Criminal Law Center at 404.633.3797.