Sex offender

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According to the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, a sex offender is a person who has been convicted of a sex offense. The Act divides sex offenders into three tiers, as follows:

  • Tier I: sex offenders who do not belong to tiers II and III, who have been convicted of sex offenses not included in those tiers.
  • Tier II: sex offenders who do not belong to tier III, who have been convicted for an offense punishable by imprisonment for 1 year, provided that:
    • The offense is committed against a minor or is an attempt or conspiracy to commit it against a minor and is comparable or more severe than one of the following federal crimes: sex trafficking, coercion and enticement, transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, or abusive sexual contact.
    • The offense involves using a minor in a sexual performance, soliciting a minor for prostitution, or producing or distributing child pornography; or
    • The offense occurs after the person became a Tier I sex offender.
  • Tier III: sex offenders who have been convicted for an offense punishable by imprisonment for 1 year, provided that:
    • The offense is committed against a minor or is an attempt or conspiracy to commit it against a minor and is comparable or more severe than one of the following federal crimes: aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse, or abusive sexual contact against a minor under the age of 13.
    • The offense involves the kidnapping of a minor; or
    • The offense occurs after the person became a Tier II sex offender.

The Department of Justice administers the national sex offenders’ registry. Tier I sex offenders are registered for 15 years, which may be reduced to 10 years if the offender maintains a clean record. Tier II sex offenders are registered for 25 years. Tier III sex offenders are registered for life unless the offender is a juvenile delinquent, in which the registration period is of 25 years if the offender maintains a clean record. Sex offenders must also appear in person to have a picture taken and verify registry information, such as their personal address. Tier I sex offenders must appear every year, Tier II sex offenders every six months, and Tier III sex offenders every three months.

Also see: Offender

[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]