As with many other offenses, being found guilty of a sex crime could result in imprisonment and fines. However, unlike others, after a convicted sex offender completes their sentence, they might also be required to submit their information to the National Sex Offender Registry. Such a requirement has long-lasting implications that affect an individual’s (and in some cases, their family’s) life, both physically and psychologically.
What Is the Sex Offender Registration Act?
The Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) is a law that establishes standards that the state must follow to track convicted sex offenders after their release from prison.
In Michigan, a convicted sex offender who seeks to live (permanently or temporarily), work, or go to school in the state must submit their information to the registry.
The individual must report in person at a local law enforcement agency to provide various pieces of information, including:
Vehicle license plate number
Place of employment
How often the person is required to report to law enforcement and the length of time they must do so depends on the tier classification they are on. However, any time their information changes – because they’ve moved, switched jobs, enrolled in school, or other updates in their life – they must notify the agency immediately after the change.
What Are the Sex Offender Registry Tiers?
After a convicted sex offender is released from prison, the department of corrections will give written notification to them explaining their registration requirements. The letter will let them know when and for how long they have to register, which is based on their tier level.
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act tiers are as follows:
Tier I: These are offenses that are not classified as either Tier II or Tier III. An individual in this tier must report once a year in their month of birth. The minimum duration for registration is 15 years.
Tier II: These crimes are those that result in a prison sentence of at least 1 year. If the person is classified on this tier, they must register twice a year. The individual must fulfill this requirement for 25 years.
Tier III: This is the highest level of the three tiers. If the person is a Tier III sex offender, they must report 4 times a year and must do this for life.
What Are the Effects of Sex Offender Registry?
When a convicted offender submits their information to local law enforcement, it gets entered into two separate databases. One is for the agency itself to keep track of the individual. The other is a public website that can be accessed by members of the community. The public site contains most of the convicted sex offender’s information, including their name, date of birth, address, and complete physical description.
Both the registration requirement and the fact that the information is accessible to the public can have dramatic impacts on the registrant’s life.
A person required to register as a sex offender is limited to where they can live and work. For example, in Michigan, a registrant cannot maintain employment or loiter within a student safety zone, which is defined as a place that is 1,000 feet or less away from school property. Not only does this place physical restrictions on the person, but it also limits their job prospects.
Psychological and Emotional Impacts
Sex offender registrants face psychological and emotional effects because of the SORA requirements. After re-entering society, many who try to get jobs are denied because of their criminal past. This puts a financial strain on the individual, making it challenging to pay for necessities and other expenses, and it also emotionally taxes them to get rejection after rejection.
It’s not just denied employment that a registered sex offender must face, because their information is public record, anybody in the community could identify them and know that they have been convicted of a sex crime. Because of this, the registrant faces social stigma and harassment. They might be evicted from their home because their landlord found their information on the public registry site, or they could be subject to obscene verbal comments and/or physical gestures from others in the community.
Effects on Family
The registration requirements could put a strain on a person’s family and friendly relationships. They could lose friends, or relatives might distance themselves either out of fear or to protect themselves from being subjected to ridicule of their own. The spouse and children of a convicted sex offender might face challenges at work or school because of their relationship with the registrant.
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The implications of sex offender registration requirements are far-reaching. Although lawmakers might have established them with public safety in mind, the collateral consequences of registering create economic and personal challenges for the individual and their family.
If you were accused of committing a sex crime in Troy, get experienced legal help from our attorneys. Understanding the dramatic effects a conviction could have on your life, we will fight relentlessly to protect your future, working toward getting charges reduced or dropped.
For aggressive legal defense, call us or contact us online.