FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Created on 7 May 2019, Last Update 5 November 2022
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 ME to ask other questions. These questions are the ones most frequently asked us since OnceFallen was founded in 2007.
If you’d like a more in-depth discussion of these questions, these topics are discussed in my new book, “Your Life on The List.” See the front page in details (available free as a PDF or for $12.95 plus tax/ shipping on Amazon.com)
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 don’t know anything about “sex offender laws.” Where do I even begin?
- 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?
- I’m no longer required to register. Will I still face problems and be subject to certain laws as I was as a Registered Person?
- How do I get involved in the fight against America’s Sex Offender Laws?
QUESTION #1: I don’t know anything about “sex offender laws.” Where do I even begin?
If you are here, it is most likely you have a loved one on the registry, or perhaps you are facing time on the registry. It can be a confusing time. I was once there myself, albeit, over 22 years ago now, and back then, there were no resources I could turn to for assistance. Thankfully, times have changed. OnceFallen.com is a good place to start your research.
I recommend if you are new to the registry, start by reading my book, “Your Life on The List” (free download and link to most current edition can be found on the front page of OnceFallen.com). It is designed to answer many common concerns those new to the registry may have in detail, as well as provide a summary of sex offense post-conviction sanctions for each US State/territory.
If you’re in need of a resource because you or a loved one is facing prison time, check out the following article. While it covers the federal system, some of the advice may be helpful even to those facing state prison time:
QUESTION #2: 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.
QUESTION #3: 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 #4: 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, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Heating and Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), and assistance offered by various community agencies.
FOOD STAMPS: There have been two attempts (in 2014 and 2018) to ban Registered Persons from the SNAP Program, but both efforts failed. Under 7 USC 2015(r), “Disqualification for Certain Convicted Felons”, some sex offenses are disqualify an applicant 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 for SNAP unless you are a “fleeing felon” or are violating probation/parole. (If you fail to register, you are considered a “fleeing felon” since FTR is a felony in most states; if you cross state lines, FTR becomes a federal offense.)
TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE FOR NEEDY FAMILIES (TANF): The TANF program, which is time limited, assists families with children when the parents or other responsible relatives cannot provide for the family’s basic needs. The Federal government provides grants to States to run the TANF program. States have broad flexibility to carry out their programs. The States, not the Federal government, decide on the design of the program, the type and amount of assistance payments, the range of other services to be provided, and the rules for determining who is eligible for benefits. On the state level, this program might have a different name like “Aid to Dependent Children (ADC)”. There are currently no known laws at the state level excluding Registrants from TANF benefits other than similar rules banning fugitives (“fleeing felons”) and those violating supervision requirements from receiving benefits.
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.
A lengthy discussion of HUD regulations can be found at https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/12-28PIHN12-11HSGN.PDF
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.” The SBA ban on Registered Persons also apply to emergency money offered by the same bureaucracy.
DISASTER RELIEF: If you face a disaster, you cannot always depend on traditional government or charity programs to assist you. When I lost my residence to a fire, the Red Cross offered me roughly $500 in emergency funds, but the Red Cross cannot shelter Registered Persons in their own shelters so I had to get a hotel room instead. During the COVID pandemic, Registrants qualified for direct “stimulus” relief totaling $3200 over three payment periods. However, the “Payment Protection Plan” loans were run by the Small Business Administration, which I previously mentioned has a policy excluding anyone with a criminal record. See SOP 50 30 9 (3.6) (effective May 31, 2018) at p. 32, “It is not in the public interest for SBA to extend financial assistance to persons who are not of good character.” FEMA (emergency aid) nor the USDA (farm loans) impose criminal record restrictions on disaster assistance. Private charities may choose to deny assistance to Registrants, or shelters may be subject to residency restriction laws.
FEDERAL STUDENT FINANCIAL AID: Congress has eliminated the ban on Pell Grants for prisoners, added to the Omnibus spending bill passed at the end of 2020. The point is, Registered Persons and those in civil commitment are NOT excluded from Pell Grants.
MEDICAID: Arkansas bans registrants from the state Medicaid program. (See AR Code § 12-12-927 (2018))
COVID-19 AND OTHER STIMULUS CHECKS: Registrants were not prohibited from collecting government “stimulus checks” given out during the “Great Recession” of the late 2000s or during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2021. In March 2021, Sen. Ted Cruz introduced S. 931, an amendment “to ensure that the 2021 recovery rebates as provided for in the American Rescue Plan Act are not provided to prison inmates convicted of child sex abuse and that such sums shall be redirected to the Department of Justice to be paid out in the form of restitution to compensate victims of crime.” Cruz also proposed the similar S.930 targeting those incarcerated for rape. Sen. Rick Scott introduced S.798 to prohibit any inmate, probationer, or parolee from collecting a stimulus check. All provisions were rejected.
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 offense 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 #5: 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. 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 #6: 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. There are many factors that affect your ability to get off the registry, includuing the nature of the offense, the length of time you have been on the registry, and whether or your state of residence offers any kind of registry relief.
The most common way to be taken off the registry is through a pardon. Most states rely on the governor for a pardon; if your state has a pardon board, your chances of a pardon is higher. Only AL, AR, & TX explicitly offer pardons to convictions from outside jurisdictions; ME, MA, NY, RI, VI, VT, WV, & WY do not explicitly exclude federal and other state convictions by state law or in the pardon application. The US President is the sole authority for federal pardons (unless a state allows pardons for federal cases), and the President cannot pardon state-level charges.
Other ways you may obtain relief from the registry: Petition the courts (there states have laws allowing a petition for registry removal), emigrate and become a citizen of another nation and denounce your American citizenship, or overturning your conviction. Each of these present challenges and nothing is guaranteed. None of these are attainable in the short term.
I now have a more detailed discussion of this topic at https://oncefallen.com/relief-from-sor/
For a summary of potential relief from the obligation to register by state, see http://ccresourcecenter.org/state-restoration-prowp-content/uploads/2021/04/50-state-comparison-relief-from-sex-offender-registration-obligations/
For more information on Pardons, see Pardon411.com
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. To get a better idea on how removal from the registry may impact moving to another state, read my book, Your Life on The List, there is a free PDF copy there.
QUESTION #7: 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, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Illinois — 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).
As of November 2022:
- Mandatory Lifetime Registration Requirements for ALL Registrants (15): AL, AZ (except kidnapping & false imprisonment w/o sexual element), CA, CO, FL, GA, HI, ID (except juveniles), MS, MT, NJ, OR, SC, TN, and WY (Note: Some of these states listed allow at least some Registrants to petition for removal from the registry after a set number of years but removal is NOT guaranteed.)
- Registry Fees (24): AL, AR, CO, DE, GA, ID, IL, IA, KS, LA, ME, MA, MI, MS, MO, NH, NY, OH, OR, TN, UT, WI, WY
- Residence Restrictions (Living Restrictions):
- Applies to all RCs (15): AL, DE, FL*, GA*, ID, KY*, MS, NC, No. Mariana Is., OH*, OK, RI, SD, TN, WY (“*” denotes states where law cannot be applied to convictions preceding the passage of the law)
- Applies only to “high risk”, higher Tier/Level placement, or offenses against minors (11): AZ, AR, IL, IN, LA, MO, MT, ND, SC, VA, WA
- Can be added as a rule to those “on paper” (6): CA, CT, HI, NY, OR, WV
- Municipal ordinances can create living restrictions exceeding those codified into state law (9): CO, FL, IN, ME, MN, NE, TX, WA, WI
- 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 which may apply to some or all RCs;) (31): AL, AR (Lv.3/4), CA, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KY, LA (offense against minors), MD, ME, MN*, MO, MS, MT (Lv3), NC, ND, N. Mariana Is., OK, OR (Lv.3), SC (on paper), SD, TN, TX*, UT, VA, WI, WY (“*” denotes no state law but allows local ordinances)
- States that place humiliating marks on your State ID/DL Cards: AL, AZ, DE, FL, KS, LA, MS, OK, TN, UT, VA (only on CDLs for passenger transport vehicles), WV; In addition, passports of those with offenses against minors have marks placed on their federally-issued passports (Note: A Federal Court in AL ruled in Feb. 2019 the ID card marks are unconstitutional as currently applied. Alabama has since replaced the “Criminal Sex Offender” with a letter under “restrictions.”)
- States requiring annual renewal of State ID/ DL cards (increasing financial burden): AZ, IL, KS, MS (quarterly), NV, OK, TX
- Work Restriction Proximity Laws (Laws that prevent registrants from living within a set distance from prohibited areas): AL, DE (if LII/LIII), GA, MI, MT (If considered high risk), RI, SC (only if on supervision), TN, WV (only of on supervision)
- States considered “substantially compliant” with the Federal Adam Walsh Act (AWA): AL, CO, DE, FL, KS, LA, MD, MI, MS, MO, NV, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, VA, WY
- States with Halloween restrictions listed in their state statutes: AR, FL, IL, LA, MO (Applies to all SOs in LA and MO, applies to Tiers 3/4 in AR, Applies to all on parole/ probation or SOs w/ offenses against anyone under 18 in IL, applies only to those on probation/ parole in FL.) In addition, CA, CO, GA, ID, IN, MD, NV, NY, OH, SC, TN, TX, VA, WI conduct named compliance check operations or allow the option for POs or local authorities to pass restrictions against those on probation/ parole.
- States that prohibit registrants from receiving Medicaid: AR
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 #8: WHERE CAN I FIND A LIST OF REGISTRATION AND/OR RESIDENCY RESTRICTION LAWS?
You can download my free book, “Your Life on The List” by Derek Logue, from the main page of my website, if you want a comprehebsive breakdown of these laws.
QUESTION #9: DO I HAVE TO REGISTER WHEN I TRAVEL?
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” (a private passport sold by a certain business) is not accepted as a valid document in nearly all nations.
Note; As of October 2017, those with offenses against minors are expected to surrender their passports for a new passport that bears a statement the traveler was convicted of a sex offense as a minor. If you have an offense against a minor and you don’t have a passport mark, your passport may be confiscated at the border. Also, those with offenses against minor are ineligible for passport cards, ID cards that allow for faster entry into some ports of entry.
The Registrant Travel Action Group (RTAG), 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:
QUESTION #10: DO I HAVE TO REGISTER WHEN I MOVE?
The system of registration when moving is very complicated and can cause major problems, especially when moving from state to state.
It amazes me how many people have gotten in trouble for making certain assumptions when moving. In particular, If you are moving from state A to state B, you must register in BOTH states A (to let them know you are leaving) and State B (to let them know you’ve arrived). Many FTRs have arisen from the assumption that you don’t have to let State A you are leaving; there is no “federal registry” (the NPOSW is merely a database that crawls state registries but does not store this info independently), and each state registry works independently.
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.
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.
No matter which type of court convicted you – whther 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.
As of August 2021, states generally handle extra-jurisdictional convictions in the following manner:
- States where every RC registers for life by default, regardless of the requirements of the state of conviction (although some may offer relief from the registry): AL, AR, CO, FL, HI, GA, IL, MT, NJ, SC, TN, WI, WY
- States that honor the registration requirements from the state of conviction (example: if your state of conviction requires only 10 year registration, this state only requires 10 year registration even if their laws are different for state convictions): CT, PA, TX, UT
- States that require registration for the longer of the two registration periods when there is a conflict between the states (example, if state of conviction requires 10 year registration but offense in moving state requires 25 years, you’ll register 25 years): IN, KS, LA, MN, NM
- States that will classify you according to their rules (or by Federal AWA guidelines even in non-AWA compliant states), regardless of registration status from jurisdiction conviction: Am. Samoa, CA, CO, DE, DC, HI, Guam, IL, KY, ME, MS, MO, NE, NV, NH, NC, ND, No. Mariana Is., OH, OK, OR, Puerto Rico, RI, SD, USVI, VT, WI
- States with unclear rules (difficult to determine guidelines, but assume you must register according to these state guidelines): AK, Amer. Samoa, AZ, MD, MI, WV
In regards to certain low level offenses, some states/territories only require registration if the offense is similar to registerable offenses in that state/territory, while some require registration for out-of-state convictions if required to register in convicting jurisdiction, even if the offense would not be registerable in the state you are moving to. Below is the breakdown:
- States/territories that require registration if offense in another jurisdiction is comparable, similar, or equivalent to registerable offenses in the state/territory: AZ, AK, Am. Samoa, CO, DC, DE, FL, Guam, IL, KS, ME, MA, MN, MT, NE, NV, NJ, NM, NC, OH, OK, RI, SD, TN, TX, USVI
- States/territories that will also require registration if the jurisdiction of conviction requires registration regardless of whether offense would require registration if convicted within the state: AL, AR, CT, GA, HI, ID, MD, MS, MO, NH, No. Mariana Is., OR, SC, UT, VT, VA, WA
- States/territories that explicitly states in a statute require a review before determining registration status: CA, KY, NY, ND, OR, WY* (if offense is not otherwise registrable under WY law)
- States that do not mention how extra-jurisdictional registration is determined (I can only assume all are required to register): AK, IN, Puerto Rico
QUESTION #11: 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 Protective Service. Speaking of CPS, I have covered what to do when confronted with a CPS investigation in my POLICE CHECKS AND CPS page on this website.
QUESTION #12: 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 #13: I’M NO LONGER REQUIRED TO REGISTER. WILL I STILL FACE PROBLEMS AND BE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LAWS AS I WAS AS A REGISTERED PERSON?
Once you are no longer required to register as a “sex offender,” you will definitely see a quality of life improvement. However, you may still suffer some residual effects from your time on the registry, and only a court order or civil suit may grant some relief:
- Your criminal record still appears on background checks. Thus, you may still struggle with employment.
- Some states do not honor pardons/ registry relief orders from other states or may classify your offense differently. Thus, another state may attempt to force you to register.
- Your information may appear on Internet searches in other ways, such as news reports about your arrest or your personal information was added to a private registry datbase like Homefacts or Family Watchdog.
If you were a person whose offense was against a minor and you are no longer required to register, you should no longer be compelled to brandish a passport mark on your passport since “covered sex offenders” is defined under 22 US Code §212b(c)(1) as “currently required to register under the sex offender registration program of any jurisdiction.” You should not have to register International Travel under Int’l Megan’s Law.
There is an ATwoZee guide on the main page of OnceFallen.com that specifically covers interstate travel after removal from your home state’s registry if you want to know what states honor your relief from registration requirements.
Question #14: HOW DO I GET INVOLVED IN THE FIGHT AGAINST AMERICA’S SEX OFFENDER LAWS?