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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Created on 7 May 2019
NOTE: OnceFallen.com is a website that specifically deals with post-conviction laws targeting people convicted of sex offenses. Below is a list of common reasons why people contact OnceFallen. If you have questions that are not listed below, you can contact CONTACT ME to ask other questions. These questions are the ones most frequently asked us since OnceFallen was founded in 2007.
For questions about OnceFallen and what it offers and doesn’t offer, please read the disclaimers and mission statement at the front page of this website. If you want to know more about me, then read my ABOUT ME page.
I am looking for housing. Can you help?
I am looking for employment. Can you help?
If I can’t get a job, what forms of government assistance do I qualify for?
I am looking for an attorney. Can you help?
Is there any way to get off the public registry?
Which state is the best state (or the worst state) for a registered person?
Where can I find a list of registration and/or residency restriction laws?
Do I have to register when I travel?
Do I have to register when I move?
Can I live with my children or stepchildren while on the registry?
I’m being harassed. Is there anything I can do about it?
How do I get involved in the fight against America’s Sex Offender Laws?
QUESTION #1: I AM LOOKING FOR HOUSING. CAN YOU HELP?
I provide a page called FINDING HOUSING which offers tips for finding housing on your own. Below that section on the same page is a list I maintain of housing options for “sex offenders.” Many of the properties are “transitional” or “halfway houses” (post- prison programs). Many of these programs may have rules or regulations and frequently charge fees.
I may at times have housing leads not listed on my website, so please CONTACT ME and ask if I do have leads in your area. The worst I can say is that I do not. I DO NOT, however, offer any direct assistance by contacting potential housing myself, nor do I make any guarantees that any housing listed on my website has vacancies o even in business at the time you contact them; unfortunately, I don’t have frequent contact or direct line to most housing options listed on my site.
Some NARSOL Affiliates maintain housing leads, so you may want to visit the NARSOL STATE AFFILIATES page to contact them.
QUESTION #2: I AM LOOKING FOR EMPLOYMENT. CAN YOU HELP?
I can only guide people to information related to employment. In 2016, OnceFallen released the results of a survey of over 300 registrants, and the results are listed on the JOBS & WELFARE SURVEY page of this site. The main results:
These are the top 10 job types for registered citizens, according to the survey:
1. Unskilled Manual Labor (Day labor, janitorial, basic labor), 88 (18.03%) 2. Skilled Labor/ Trades (plumbing, home repairs, mechanics, maintenance), 70 (14.34%) 3. Retail/ Sales jobs (realtors, cashiers, grocery clerks, telemarketing), 50 (10.25%) 4. Manufacturing (assembly fine, factory work, warehousing), 50 (10.25%) 5. Restaurant Jobs (cook, server), 40 (8.2%) 6. Internet and Tech jobs (IT, computer repairs, web design), 32 (6.56%) 7. Construction, 30 (6.15%) 8. Customer Service (call/ help centers, store agents), 24 (4.92%) 9. Administration/ Clerical/ Office Jobs, 21 (4.3%) 10. Transportation jobs (bus driver, deliveries, truck drivers), 19 (3.89%)
The categories in this survey least represented by registered citizens are as follows:
1. Communication jobs (cable, TV, phone techs), 3 (0.61%) 2. Scientific field (biotech, botany, zoology, etc), 2 (0.41%) 3. Security/ Loss Prevention (home/ business private security, quality control), 2 (0.41%) 4. Education/ Teaching jobs, 1 (0.2%) 5. Insurance, 0 (0%)
According to the survey, registrants are more likely to be “contingent” workers (self-employed or contract laborers) than the general population (42% RCs vs. 30% GP). That means the highest number of employed registrants started their own businesses. The next most frequent job situation was working with a family member/ friend, followed by a small business (“mom and pop” operations) and large/ franchise businesses (Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, etc.); working in contact labor (including day labor) was the least frequent job situation.
In short, this means most registered persons that are employed either self-employed or worked in jobs that are often associated with low wages and high stress—manual labor/ unskilled labor, skilled labor/ trades, sales, manufacturing, and restaurant jobs being most common.
QUESTION #3: IF I CANNOT GET A JOB, THEN WHAT KIND OF PUBLIC ASSISTANCE CAN I QUALIFY FOR?
In my 2016 JOBS AND WELFARE SURVEY, registrants were found to be roughly four times more likely to be unemployed, 2/3 less likely to be employed full-time, and more than twice as likely to live below the poverty line as the average American. Unsurprisingly, Registered Citizens reported being currently on public assistance at twice the rate of the average American, and only one out of seven respondents have not accepted any form of public assistance while on the registry.
At this time, registered citizens still qualify for SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid/ Medicare, TANF, the Heating and Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), and assistance offered by various community agencies.
FOOD STAMPS: In recent years, there has been confusion over whether or not people convicted of sex crimes can receive SNAP Benefits (food stamps). There have been two attempts (in 2014 and 2018) to ban Registered Citizens from the SNAP Program, but both efforts did not succeed. Under 7 U.S. Code Sec. 2015, Eligibility disqualifications, Subsection (r), “Disqualification for Certain Convicted Felons”, some sex offenses are disqualifying offenses only if “the individual is not in compliance with the terms of the sentence of the individual or the restrictions under subsection (k)”. In other words, you qualify unless you are a “fleeing felon” or are violating probation/ parole. (Obviously, if you fail to register, you’ll likely be considered a fleeing felon, as FTR is a felony in most states, and if you cross state lines, may bea federal offense as well.)
SECTION 8 HOUSING: HUD regulations at 24 CFR § 5.856, § 960.204(a)(4), and § 982.553(a)(2) prohibit admission after June 25, 2001, if any member of a household is subject to a State lifetime sex offender registration requirement. This regulation reflects a statutory prohibition. In addition, states are given the option to banish even non-lifetime registrants from public housing, and oftentimes, they do. If an O/A or PHA erroneously admitted a lifetime sex offender, the O/A or PHA must offer the family the opportunity to remove the ineligible family member from the household. If the family is unwilling to remove that individual from the household, the PHA or O/A must terminate assistance for the household.
FEDERAL HOUSING LOAN PROGRAMS (FHA, USDA, and VA Home Loans): There are currently NO RESTRICTIONS based on any criminal background checks, even for sex crimes.
There was a failed attempt in 2010 to remove Registered Citizens from FHA Loans (H.R.5072 - FHA Reform Act of 2010, 111th Congress, 2009-2010, sponsored by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-CA-35). While this bill ultimately failed to be enrolled, it had passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 406-4. We must be vigilant to watch future bills in case this provision is added to future bills.
UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION: There are currently NO RESTRICTIONS based upon a sex offense record.
There was a failed attempt in 2010 to restrict Registered Persons from Unemployment Compensation (H.R.5618 - Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act of 2010, 111th Congress, 2009-2010, sponsored by Jim McDermott, D-MA-7); it passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 270-152, mostly across party lines (Democrats largely voted Yes while Republicans largely noted No). This means that Unemployment Compensation could be targeted in the future, so we must remain vigilant.
SMALL BUSINESS LOANS: Registered Citizens with crimes against minors and certain pornography offenses are banned from receiving Federal Small Business Loans thanks to the passage of H.R.5297, the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, 111th Congress (2009-2010), sponsored Rep. Barney Frank [D-MA-4]. It amended 12 U.S. Code, Sec. 5710, Oversight and audits, to add subsection (b)(2) which reads, “With respect to funds received by a participating State under the Program, any private entity that receives a loan, a loan guarantee, or other financial assistance using such funds after September 27, 2010, shall certify to the participating State that the principals of such entity have not been convicted of a sex offense against a minor (as such terms are defined in section 20911 of title 34).” Under subsection (c), “None of the funds made available under this chapter may be used to pay the salary of any individual engaged in activities related to the Program who has been officially disciplined for violations of subpart G of the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch for viewing, downloading, or exchanging pornography, including child pornography, on a Federal Government computer or while performing official Federal Government duties.”
SOCIAL SECURITY: Currently NO RESTRICTIONS have passed on receiving any Social Security funds based upon registry status, nor have there been any serious legislative assaults on receiving benefits. So long as you are not currently incarcerated, you should qualify for benefits.
I must note, however, that there have been some misleading claims about registration status being a qualifying disability. The SSA defines a disability as, “You are entitled to receive Social Security disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits when you are no longer able to perform a ‘substantial’ amount of work as the result of a physical or mental impairment that is expected to last at least 12 months, or possibly result in death.” “Substantial gainful activity” is usually defined as work that brings in over a certain dollar amount per month; In 2019, that amount is $1,220 for non-blind disabled SSDI or SSI applicants, and $2,040 for blind SSDI applicants (the SGA limit doesn't apply to blind SSI applicants). You can find a more detailed discussion about disability requirements at https://www.disabilitysecrets.com/sga.html
Obviously, sex offender laws present substantial barriers to employment. This does not mean, however, that you can just walk in the door, claim your registry status alone prevents you from working, and expect a check. However, it can be a mitigating circumstance if you lack a medical history. You might need to consult (and hire) one of the various attorneys that specialize in disability claims.
My personal story is anecdotal here, but I am on SSDI and SSI, and my registry status did play into the discussion about my disability. However, I also had a mental health history going back to my childhood. The disability case manager, however, did note that in his opinion, a registered sex offender status does meet the legal definition of a disability due to the restrictions we face, so registry status could be argued (in theory) as a disability when told to the right person.
QUESTION #4: I AM LOOKING FOR AN ATTORNEY. CAN YOU HELP?
OnceFallen is an information hub for registered citizens, be do not provide any kind of legal services, including attorney referrals. Generally, my response to this question is to tell the person to do an Internet search of “Sex Offender Attorney” and the state where they reside. Some state affiliates of NARSOL may work with attorneys but that does not guarantee legal assistance from these groups. To my knowledge, no group provides legal referrals outside of Legal Aid programs. I do maintain a short list of attorneys that have worked with anti-registry advocates in the past on my LINKS PAGE.
QUESTION #5: IS THERE A WAY TO GET OFF THE PUBLIC REGISTRY?
Yes, there is a way to get off the public registry in some states, but the process is very difficult and your chances for removal are extremely small.
The most common way to be taken off the registry is through a pardon. Some states may allow an early termination from registration duties under certain circumstances, and the Federal Adam Walsh Act allows the option (but not obligation) to reduce the registration for those classified as a Tier 1 or Tier 2 Registrant. For a list of early removal from registration in each state, go to:
It should be worth noting that if you move to another state after being removed from the registry, other states may try to force you to register. See the question on moving to a new state for a full discussion.
QUESTION #6: WHICH STATE IS THE BEST STATE (OR THE WORST) FOR A REGISTERED CITIZEN TO LIVE?
This question makes me cringe, because it gives people the impression that registered citizens frequently “state shop”, which is a misleading and fear-mongering notion. There is no US State, territory, or Native American reservation in which one can move and not have to register upon release. There honestly isn’t a “best state” because laws vary in each state and even by municipality, and some people thrive in one state while others do not. It is far easier to name the worst states—Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida, North Carolina, and Louisiana—because these states frequently make headlines for worst laws.
States that lack residency restrictions are more desirable than those that have restrictions, but that relief may be offset by registry fees or other kinds of restrictions. Some states may mark driver’s licenses while others do not. Below are some of the most common restrictions faced by registrants that may influence your decision to move to another state (Please note that not every restriction applies evenly across states and some of the restrictions below may apply only to parolees or to those classified on higher tier levels in certain states; consult the ACSOL guide listed in Question #7 for further details).
As of May 2019:
Mandatory Lifetime Registration Requirements for ALL Registrants: AL, CA, CO, FL, GA, HI, OR, SC, and WY, though California (2021) and Oregon (est. 2021) are currently converting to a tier system.
Registry Fees: AL, CO, GA, ID, IL, KS, LA, ME, MA, MI, MS, OH, OR, TN, UT
Residence Restrictions (Living Restrictions): AL, AZ, AR, CA, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, ME, MI, MS, MO, NE*, NY, NC, OH, OK, OR, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX*, UT, VA, WA, WI*, WV, WY (Those marked with an asterisk denotes no statewide law but have allowed local ordinances to restrict where a registrant can live)
Presence Restrictions (Also called anti-loitering or proximity laws; Defined as various restrictions on where registrants can go, such as schools, parks, libraries, malls, recreation areas, or other places one might expect to find children; the laws are too varied to discuss here, but each state listed has some kind of restriction; please see the ACSOL guide below for more details): AL, AR, CA, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IA, KY, LA, MD, MI, MS, MO, NC, ND, OK, OR, SD, TN, UT, VA, WI, WY
States that place humiliating marks on your state ID Cards: AL, DE, FL, LA, OK, TN; In addition, passports of those with offenses against minors have marks placed on their federally-issued passports
Work Restriction Laws (Laws that prevent registrants from living within a set distance from prohibited areas): AL, GA
States considered “substantially compliant” with the Federal Adam Walsh Act (AWA): AL, CO, FL, KS, LA, MD, MI, MS, MO, NV, OH, PA, SC, SD, TN, VA, WY
These restrictions can expand or be altered at any time. Changes could be applied retroactively, so even if you move into a community before a law passes, a new law could negatively impact your residence. In addition, there are too many prohibitions across the USA to be listed here, like restrictions on holiday celebrations, emergency shelter access, or even on the wearing of costumes. We must remain vigilant for any newly proposed or expanding restrictions at the state and federal level. That is why I suggest you get involved with the various groups listed at Question #12.
QUESTION #7: WHERE CAN I FIND A LIST OF REGISTRATION AND/OR RESIDENCY RESTRICTION LAWS?
The group Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws (ACSOL) maintains a list of basic information about registration, community notification, and residence restriction laws by state and territory. Those interested in the laws in each state will find the information useful. You can find that guide at:
I have covered the topic of traveling as a registered person extensively in my TRAVELING REGISTRANT article. But to summarize traveling as a registered person:
Registered Citizens have a fundamental right to travel, but are expected to notify the authorities before traveling or face state and/or federal prosecution for Failure To Register (FTR). Courts thus far have ruled registering your travel plans does not infringe upon your right to travel as it does not prevent you from traveling.
If you are “on paper” (probation/ parole), then you’ll need permission to travel anywhere. If you’re not on paper but have to register, then you don’t need permission to travel but you might have to register depending on how long you plan on traveling.
For interstate travel, check with your local registration office as well as the registration office of your travel destination, because each jurisdiction (even those within Adam Walsh Act compliant states) have different rules for travel. You can also read the ACSOL guide, as many states consider staying in a state long enough to trigger registration requirements as “establishing a (temporary) residence” even though you are just visiting.
For international travel, register with your local registration office and contact the Embassy/Consulate of the nation of destination; under the Federal Adam Walsh Act, you are expected to register 21 days in advance, though only 17 states are AWA compliant. There is no guarantee of entry into a foreign entry even with a Passport or Visa. The so-called “World Passport” is not accepted as a valid document in nearly all nations.
The Registrant Travel Action Group (RTAG), a subsidiary of NARSOL, maintains a list of nations that have restricted Registered Citizens from entering the country in some form or fashion. You can access the RTAG Travel Matrix from the following link:
Yes, and it amazes me how many people have gotten in trouble for making certain assumptions when moving.
The system of registration when moving is very complicated and can cause major problems, especially when moving from state to state. One common problem with moving state-to-state is that registry status often defies the law of gravity, meaning your status can go up but rarely comes down, even if you return to the state that originally classified you as a lower tier registrant! For example, a Tier 1 registrant no longer required to register in Ohio because he timed out of his Tier 1 registry status moved to Florida, where everyone registers for life, & now the Ohio registrant is a lifetime Florida registrant and will be on the Florida list even after he dies. Another caller moved from Wisconsin, which classified him as a Tier 1, moved to another state which classified him as a Tier 3, and when he tried to move back to Wisconsin, he was told he’d be classified as a Tier 3 if he moved back. Some states keep you on their registries even if you don’t live in that state. Many, but not all, states try to pigeonhole out-of-state RCs into a corresponding tier, but it may cause a person to be improperly labeled as a “predator.”
If you have been removed from the registry in one state but are forced to register in another state, it is possible to be removed from the registry via court order if you are willing to fight registration. A couple of recent cases, one in North Carolina, the other in Florida, give hope for removal from the registry upon moving to a new state under specific circumstances:
Meredith v Stein, No. 5:17-CV-528-BO (E.D.N.C., 7 Nov 2018): Ruled the state’s process for adding people to the NC registry who had been convicted out of state deprived Plaintiff of a cognizable liberty interest and the procedures protecting that interest were constitutionally inadequate. The Plaintiff moved from Washington State; NC officials initially told him he would not have to register, but forced him to register anyways upon arrival.
In the May 10, 2017 edition of The Islander (A weekly newspaper in Holmes Beach FL) [REPUBLISHED HERE], it was reported that The 12th Circuit State Attorney Office had dropped a case against a man accused of FTR because his crime predated the registry in Indiana, where the man had been convicted. The defense provided the state with a 2011 court order from Indiana, which “specifically states that the defendant is not required to register because his conviction predated the registry,” Assistant State Attorney Shanna Sue Hourihan wrote in the memo.
The most common misperception that has led to numerous criminal charges for FTR is the assumption that an RC moving from one state to another only has to notify one state of the move. A registrant moving from Ohio to Florida has to notify BOTH states within the time frame the state gives; for Ohio that’s within 72 hours of a move, and within 48 hours of the move for Florida. Another problem moving to a new state is that states that may not have statewide residency or presence restrictions may allow counties & municipalities to adopt such laws. In states with residency laws, not all states contain provisions within the law that allows registrants to keep their homes & apartments if they resided in the property before a prohibited place moves close to them. Even if you no longer have to register in one state due to timing out or obtaining relief from registration requirements (such as from a pardon or relief through the courts), some states may force you to register.
No matter which type of court convicted you – state, federal, military, territorial, or even the court of a different nation— EVERYONE forced to register will experience these difficulties. Therefore, my best advice for any SO moving to a new state, whether currently forced to register or not, is contact the registration office before you plan on moving to find out what restrictions and/or tier you may land on long before you finalize a move. You must research each state’s laws. There is no worse feeling than buying a new home or moving into that new apartment only to be forced to move because someone opened a new daycare down the street. Be sure to give sufficient time to the registry officers in both the state you are leaving and the state you are moving to of your intent to move. A little headache today can save you a lot of headaches down the road.
QUESTION #10: CAN I LIVE WITH MY CHILDREN OR STEPCHILDREN WHILE ON THE REGISTRY?
It depends on the state and the circumstances. Most states that do have any existing ban registrants from living with minors only do so as a condition of probation/ parole or court order.
Some states do have complex rules regarding allowing registered citizens the right to live with their children or stepchildren. For example, under Alabama law, Registrants are prohibited from living with a minor or even accepting overnight visits. An adult registrant who is the parent, grandparent, step parent, sibling, or stepsibling of a minor is permitted to live with the individual unless: the individual's parental rights have been or are in the process of being terminated, the adult sex offender has been convicted of any sex offense in which the minor was a victim, the individual has been convicted of a sex offense in which a minor was a victim and the minor resided or lived with the adult, the individual has been convicted of any sex offense involving a child, or the individual was convicted of any sex offense involving forcible compulsion in which the victim was a minor. My advice is contacting the registry office where you plan on living before you move to a new location.
However, just because very few states have any prohibition on registered persons living with minors does not mean you are free from investigations from that state’s child welfare agencies.
QUESTION #11: I’M BEING HARASSED. IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO ABOUT IT?
Sadly, it is difficult to seek justice when you are facing harassment, especially if the harassment is coming from an agent of law enforcement. I have covered tips on dealing with harassment of all types on my FIGHTING VIGILANTES page, as well as keeping up with some major scam artists and vigilante organizations on my SCAMMERS AND VIGILANTE DATABASE. However, I’ll summarize a few tips to help those experiencing harassment:
Blocking Online Harassment: If you are only being harassed on social media or any Internet service, the easiest way to deal with trolls is to simply block/ mute them whenever possible, or simply not to respond to them. Most Internet harassment is little more than trolling behavior, so their only reason for harassment is to get a rise out of you; if you respond, they “win” in their eyes.
Document every instance: If you are experiencing real-life harassment, download phone call recording software, install cameras, and take notes of every instance. The more evidence you have, the better.
File a police report: Even if it is an exercise in futility, try filing a report if the harassment is threatening enough.
File a grievance: If the harasser is a cop, inquire about the grievance procedure is, if any. Take it to the police chief/ sheriff, or the prosecutor, or even talk with the state’s Attorney General Office.
Sue your harassers: The police might not invest time and energy into taking down your harassers, so consider suing them for harassment. If you win, you can place liens on their tangible property.
Protect yourself: Find out what weapons you are legally allowed to carry, like knives, mace, stun guns and crossbows. Some folks have suggested investing in a dog, particularly a large breed that can attack intruders.
Question #12: HOW DO I GET INVOLVED IN THE FIGHT AGAINST AMERICA’S SEX OFFENDER LAWS?
Feel free to CONTACT ME if you have would like to discuss getting involved. I have a page on this website called GET ACTIVE, which covers the basics of fighting back.
I also advise registrants and their loved ones to sign up for the private forums at SOSEN.ORG in order to be connected to a support and information sharing group.
There are a number of activist groups that you can join: