Michigan Sex Offender Registry Laws: What You Need to Know
Michigan law enforcement authorities and prosecutors take sex crimes allegations and charges very seriously.
That means, upon conviction, sex crime offenders will be required to register as sex offenders after facing lengthy jail or prison time and paying hefty fines.
While the intentions of the Michigan sex offender registry laws are noble, the effect of registering as a convicted sex or child offender is often enormous. Therefore, it’s important to enlist the services of a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as you get arrested or realize you are under investigation for a sexual offense in order to minimize the possibility of a conviction.
If you are being investigated or face sex charges in Michigan, this guide will give you an in-depth insight into Michigan’s sex offender registry laws, including how to avoid being on the sex offender registry.
Michigan Sex Offender Registry Laws
Michigan offender registry laws are governed by the Michigan Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA) of 1994.
In its design, the act was meant to serve as a deterrent to criminal sexual conduct and ensure that the public was made aware of the location and the names of convicted sex offenders for safety reasons.
Michigan Sex Offender Registry Requirements
If you have been convicted of sex crimes in Michigan or have moved to Michigan, but had a sex crimes conviction in another state, you may be required to register as a sex offender with the Michigan sex offender registry.
No matter if you are required to register as a Tier I, Tier II, or Tier III sex offender, working with an experienced Michigan sex crimes attorney is vital. The right lawyer can help you understand your particular offense classification and if it warrants registration under the sex offender registry laws.
Understanding Michigan Offender Registry Laws
The Michigan Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) has set forth three tiers of sexual offenses, namely Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III offenses.
The sex crime in question determines the tier, which in turn determines the severity of the sentencing.
Additionally, the offense’s tier classification determines the number of years the individual will remain on the Michigan public sex offender registry. In most cases, the number of years one can remain on the registry varies from 15 years up to life.
Tier I Offenses
Tier I offenses carry the least severe penalties under the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA).
With that said, being the least severe doesn’t necessarily mean that the penalties are not life-altering in nature, because they are.
Upon a conviction with a Tier I offense, the offender will be subjected to a 15-year listing on the sex offender registry and updating their sex offender registration records once a year.
Tier I offenders, however, where the complainant is an adult, do not appear in the Michigan public sex offender registry, unlike Tier II and Tier III offenses.
Some of the violations listed under this category, as per Michigan Compiled Laws § 28.722(s), include:
- Possession of child pornography
- Any sex offense committed by a sexually delinquent person – Michigan Compiled Laws § 10(a)
- Third or fourth degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) against an individual aged 18 or older – Michigan Compiled Laws § 520e
- Engaging or offering to engage a minor for prostitution – Michigan Compiled Laws § 449a(2)
- Unlawfully imprisoning or restraining a minor – Michigan Compiled Laws § 349b
- Aggravated indecent exposure in the presence of a minor – Michigan Compiled Laws § 355a(2)(b)
- Any violation of local sex laws not classified as Tier II or Tier III, but involves a minor
- Assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct in the 2nd degree – Michigan Compiled Laws § 520g(2)
- Voyeurism, especially if the victim is a minor – Michigan Compiled Laws § 539c
Tier II Offenses
Tier II offenses are more severe, in comparison to Tier I offenses, and carry harsher penalties.
Upon conviction, a Tier II sexual offender will be subjected to a 25-year sex offender registration, with Michigan offender registry laws requiring them to update their registry information twice per year.
Offenses classified as Tier II, as per Michigan Compiled Laws § 28.722(u), include:
- Distribution or promotion of child sexually material (child pornography) – Michigan Compiled Laws § 145c(3)
- Creation, production, or financing the production of child pornography – Michigan Compiled Laws § 750.145c(2)
- Soliciting a minor (a person aged 16 or below) for immoral purposes – Michigan Compiled Laws § 145a
- Gross indecency involving complainants between 13 and 18 years of age
- Offenses against nature where the complainant is below 18 but over 13 years – Michigan Compiled Laws § 158
- Assault with the intention to commit criminal sexual conduct in the 2nd degree – where the victim is between over 13, but younger than 18 – Michigan Compiled Laws § 520c
- Procuring or conspiring to procure a person for prostitution – Michigan Compiled Laws § 455
- Solicitation of prostitution or any sexual activity where the victim is a minor – Michigan Compiled Laws § 448
- Criminal sexual conduct 2nd degree & criminal sexual conduct 4th degree – Michigan Compiled Laws § 750.520c and 750.520e
- The use of a minor for commercial sexual activity – Michigan Compiled Laws § 462e
- Other similar offenses listed under federal law 42 USC 16911
Tier III Offenses
Tier III is the highest level of sexual offenses classification under the SORA.
It also follows that a conviction with a Tier III sex offense will result in the harshest penalties, which is a lifetime public registration as a sexual offender.
Under Michigan law, the convicted offender of a Tier III offense is required to update their information on Michigan’s sex offender registry four times a year.
Sexual crimes categorized as Tier III offenses, as per Michigan Compiled Laws § 28.722(w), include:
- Criminal sexual conduct 1st degree (rape or other forced sexual penetration) – Michigan Compiled Laws § 520b
- Criminal sexual conduct 2nd degree against a minor below the age of 13 – Michigan Compiled Laws section 750.520g(2)
- Criminal sexual conduct 3rd degree – Michigan Compiled Laws section 520d
- Assault with intent to commit 1st and 3rd degree CSC – Michigan Compiled Laws § 750.520g(1)
- Gross indecency involving a minor below 13 – Michigan Compiled Laws § 750.338, Michigan Compiled Laws sections § 338a and § 750.338b
- Kidnapping a minor – Michigan Compiled Laws § 349
- Enticing a minor under 14 years with the intent to keep or detain the child away from his or her parent, guardian, or adoptive parent – Michigan Compiled Laws § 350
- Criminal sexual conduct 4th degree where the perpetrator is above 17 and the victim is below 13 – Michigan Compiled Laws § 750.520e
- Any criminal sexual conduct charge under MCL 750.520c
Consequences of Having Your Name on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry
Having your name on the public sex offender registry has far-reaching consequences that can significantly affect a convicted offender’s life.
Some of these include:
1. Problems Getting a Job
Many employers will run a background check on all potential candidates when hiring, and having your name on the public sex offender registry can be a major red flag. Additionally, the law prohibits convicted sex offenders from serving in certain professions, particularly in fields involving interaction with children.
2. Difficulties Securing Accommodations
Like employers, most landlords will also run a background check before allowing new tenants into their houses. A sex crimes record can be a significant setback when accessing a rental home because many landlords will not want to have a convicted sex offender living among other tenants.
3. Travel Restrictions
Although a convicted sex offender is allowed to travel, this freedom may be limited to a certain extent by their status as a convicted sex offender.
A convicted sex offender is required by the law to notify federal and local law enforcement agencies of their intention to travel, according to the set-out guidelines. Usually, interstate travel plans must be reported within three days before the travel dates, while international travel plans must be reported 21 days prior.
Additionally, the offender may have limitations on the places they can travel. For example, sex offenders may be prohibited from visiting sites that kids frequent, such as Disney Land and Disney World.
4. Child Custody Denial
The main idea behind sex offender registry laws is to ensure the safety of others from sex crime offenders.
If you have children and are in a legal tussle over custody, having your name on the sex offender’s registry can be a real spoiler because your partner can cite your record as a reason for being denied custody. Irrespective of the underlying crime, the court will consider a convicted sex offender a danger, even to their own children.
5. Social Stigma
Upon conviction and registration as a sex crime offender, perceptions about you change. Family, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances may view you as a threat or, at the very least, a misfit. Under some circumstances, these negative perceptions may evolve into psychological and physical abuse.
Failure to Register with the Michigan Sex Offender Registry
If you are convicted of Tier I, II, or III sex offenses in Michigan, you will be required to present yourself for registration with the public sex offenders registry at your local law enforcement authority.
Due to the stigma and the limitations resulting from being on the Michigan public sex offender registry, many convicted sex offenders attempt to delay or skip sex offender registration altogether.
Skipping or delaying your sex offender registration in Michigan is a serious crime that can see the offender facing time in jail, paying expensive fines, and facing parole or probation revocation.
If, for whatever reason, you fail to register as a sex offender or fail to update your information on the registry, and are under investigation, you must not take your situation lightly, and it’s always a good idea to consult a skilled Michigan criminal defense lawyer.
Failure to register as a sex offender charge in Michigan can take several forms under the sex offender registry laws, which include:
- Failure to give your information as required under sex offender registry guidelines
- Failure to update your sex offender registry information by the set deadlines
- Failure to pay statutory registry fees
- Refusal to sign registry forms
Upon a conviction with failure to register or update their registry information with law enforcement, the offender will be guilty of a felony if the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the offense was intentional.
With that said, if the violation was unintentional, and it can be proven, the offender will be guilty of a misdemeanor. Additionally, failure to pay the set registry fees or sign the sex offender registry forms results in a misdemeanor irrespective of whether the offense was intentional or not.
Penalties for Failure to Register with the Michigan Sex Offender Registry
MCL 28.729 stipulates statutory penalties for sex offender registries willfully failing to register or update registry information with the Michigan sex offender registry.
First-time offenders will be guilty of a felony carrying a penalty of up to four years in prison, a fine not exceeding $2,000, or both.
A second conviction attracts a harsher sentence that includes a prison term not exceeding seven years, a fine not exceeding $5,000, or both.
The third and consecutive convictions attract a maximum of ten years imprisonment, a fine not exceeding $10,000, or both.
Under this section of Michigan law, willful failure to sign a registration and notice, as provided under the law, is a misdemeanor attracting a prison term not exceeding 93 days, a fine not exceeding $2,000, or both.
A failure to pay the statutory registration fees is a misdemeanor carrying a penalty of up to 90 days in jail.
Other statutory penalties for violating Michigan offender registry laws include parole and probation revocation and a revocation of the Holmes Youthful Trainee status [HYTA].
Can You Get Off the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry?
There is almost no chance of getting immediately off once your name is on the Michigan public sex offender registry.
However, there is some good news even after a conviction and registration as a sex offender. Under some circumstances, you may be able to have your name removed from the Michigan public sex offender registry with the help of an excellent criminal defense lawyer.
Circumstances under which an individual may be eligible for having their name removed from the Michigan public sex offender registry include:
- Romeo and Juliet offenders – Under Michigan law, a male under 18 may be charged with statutory rape for engaging in consensual sex with their girlfriend, as long as the girl is below 16. Following the 2011 Romeo and Juliet amendment to the Michigan offender registry laws, adolescents convicted of statutory rape can petition the court to remove their names from the sex offender registry. To qualify for removal from the Michigan public sex offender registry under the Romeo and Juliet amendment, the petitioner must prove in court that the parties involved engaged in consensual sex and that the offender was not more than four years older than the victim. Additionally, the victim must not be younger than 18 or if you were convicted and sentenced as a juvenile and are a Tier III offender.
- You were registered as a sex offender under a law that no longer qualifies for registration as a sex offender following the revision of Michigan’s sex offender registry laws.
- You were convicted as a juvenile for any offense listed under MCL 28.722(s), (u), or (w) and were less than 14 years old at the commission of the offense or if the Michigan state police/law enforcement have determined that your status as a registered sex offender under the sex offender registry laws is not required.
- You were convicted as an adult for a select Tier I offense.
- You have satisfied the statutory sex offender registry requirements for the offense in question.
Michigan Sex Offender Registry Legislative History
Michigan offender registry laws have undergone several amendments since their enactment in 1994, with the most recent one coming into effect on March 24, 2021.
One of the most notable is the 2006 amendments that criminalized working, living, or loitering within 1,000 feet of a school for registered sex offenders.
Equally notable is the 2011 amendment that created the current SORNA three-tiered sexual offenses classification, under the criminal justice system, and required immediate updating of the registry, with minor changes in the offender’s life, such as travel plans or new email accounts.
The most recent amendment in 2021 essentially maintains the three tiered sexual offenses classification, but removes tier information from the public register. The amendment sets the time limit for registering with the Michigan sex offender registry at three business days and requires vast data from convicted sex offenders.
Notably, the amendment rolled back on the 2006 amendment that set 1,000 feet school exclusion zones for registered sex offenders following the ruling of the provision as unconstitutional. Under this amendment, a person can only be convicted for failure to comply with Michigan sex offender registration laws if the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender willfully failed to comply. Additionally, this amendment allows registered sex offenders to be removed from the Michigan public sex offender registry under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act [HYTA].
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What information is contained in the Michigan public sex offender registry?
The sex offender information published on the Michigan public sex offender registry includes:
- The offender’s registrable offense
- The offender’s conviction date
- Their photo
- The offender’s physical description
- The offender’s address, according to their last update
- Employment address
- Post high school student enrollment
- Vehicle information
- Their name and any known aliases
It is also essential to understand that there are two levels of the sex offender registry: public and private.
2. What’s the difference between a public and a private sex offender registry?
The Michigan public sex offender registry is the registry that is made accessible to the public over the internet that contains general personal information about an offender.
The private sex offender registry, on the other hand, is a database containing the offender’s private and public information and is only accessible to law enforcement personnel or through a court order.
3. What happens when an offender changes residence from Michigan?
Michigan sex offender registry laws require that an offender’s travel outside the state be reported to local law enforcement three days before traveling. This includes when an individual is permanently moving out of the state. The sex offender registration unit notifies the other state about the offender’s change of residence.
After changing residence, the offender’s information no longer appears on the Michigan public sex offender registry. Additionally, sex offender registries are no longer required to update their status with a law enforcement agency.
4. Who must register with the Michigan sex offender registry?
Anyone who resides in Michigan and is:
- Convicted of an offense requiring registration after October 1, 1995
- Convicted of an offense requiring registration on or before October 1, 1995, if this is by the date the offender was on probation, parole, or serving a jail sentence
- Persons registered as sex offenders or predators in another state who move to Michigan
Let Nicole Blank Becker at Blank Law, PC Defend Your Sex Offender Registration
Upon a conviction with an offense requiring registration as a sex offender, registration is a must, and willful failure to register is a prosecutable offense.
The best strategy to avoid being on the sex offender registry is by working with a skilled criminal defense attorney when facing sex-related charges to minimize your chances of a conviction.
If you’re looking for a lawyer to fight your sex-related charges, your best bet will be working with one solely focused on sex crimes.
Nicole Blank Becker of Blank Law, PC is a Michigan-based sex crimes lawyer with over two decades of practice in state and federal law, and is solely focused on sex crimes.
Nicole has worked in the prosecutor’s office as a deputy prosecutor in Macomb County during her years of practice. This means Nicole has the rare advantage of looking at your charges from a prosecution and defense perspective, guaranteeing you the best possible outcome.
Don’t gamble with your reputation when faced with sex charges. The sooner you can get Nicole Blank Becker working on your sex-related charge, the better your chances of getting a favorable outcome.
To have Nicole on your side, contact Blank Law, PC at (248) 515-6583 or fill out our online form to book a free case evaluation today.