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What is the National Sex Offender Registry?

As discussed previously in this blog, the prospect of facing federal charges is intimidating for St. Louis residents. Federal charges often carry more severe penalties than state charges, in the event someone is convicted, and therefore the federal charges should be taken very seriously.

It is not just prison time that should be a concern to those charged, however. In cases involving sex crimes, for example, individuals can face other consequences that have a drastic impact on their life, even after prison time is considered.

One of the biggest issues with sex crimes is the potential that a person will need to register as a sex offender. Various state and federal laws impact whether a person has to register as a sex offender after a particular conviction.

Once registered, individuals who are designated as sex offenders may be listed on various websites and other places. One key database is the National Sex Offender Registry, which was established about 10 years ago. The National Sex Offender Public Website gives the public access to sex offender information from around the country.

The website links together different state, territorial and tribal sex offender registries into one website. Accordingly, members of the public can search the website for sex offenders who live and work near them and in other communities. For instance, individuals can search about sex offenders by address, city, zip code, county or by a person's name. The information is provided by the local jurisdiction, but is made available nationwide.

Individuals charged with sex crimes should thus be aware soon after charges are filed whether they could have to register as a sex offender, and whether their registration would be available on the National Sex Offender Registry. Once again, it is helpful for a person to know about all of the potential consequences in order to make the best decisions about how to challenge the charges and proceed in the case.

Source: United States Department of Justice, "About NSOPW," accessed on Jan. 31, 2015

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