What Happens When You Register as a Sex Offender?
In the state of Michigan, many sex crimes were prosecuted based on SORA – Sex Offender Registration Act, which outline the sex offender registration laws. This Act has been updated; however, in the past, all violations, including those that were a mistake, unintended, or due to ignorance, went through this law.
In these situations (and still today), facing criminal charges of this nature requires the help of an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer.
What is Considered Sexual Offenses?
Several sex crimes that result from allegations that you did something to exploit a child by possessing or capturing sexually suggestive images (child pornography) will trigger SORA. This includes possession and distribution of child pornography in Michigan.
The law includes other criminal charges, too, based on sexual conduct, like sexual assault, which is called “CSC” in Michigan. The most serious level of CSC (criminal sexual conduct) charges is the first offense (criminal sexual conduct 1st degree), including sexual penetration of the anus, mouth, or vagina by an adult who is in a position of authority over a child victim.
This crime is also referred to as criminal sex assault. Even cases of indecent exposure can result in SORA coming into play.
Understanding SORA Compliance
The guidance used by attorneys and judges to determine compliance of a sex offender is limited, but held to an all-knowing standard. To add clarity and remove unnecessary prosecutions, the updated SORA law requires that prosecuting attorneys establish that a sex crime was willful and intentional rather than a mistake.
It is a challenging standard to determine, but prosecutors are better equipped to evaluate the alleged sex offenses than they were when they were prosecuting all the past technical violations. While “willful” is a legal term of art, it basically means the sex offender engaged knowingly and intentionally with the sex crime they are being charged with.
With this requirement in place, it requires sex offenders to have intended some type of conduct or act that violates the SORA requirements. If a sex offender violated the act somehow and it is evident they did not do this intentionally, under the new SORA regulations, they should not be prosecuted or face criminal charges.
Have the New SORA Requirements Changed the Reporting Process for Sex Offenders?
The requirements have not changed. It does not matter which of the sex offender tier levels apply (Tier I, Tier II, or Tier III sex offender); it is still required that you report in-person.
What Happens When You Register as a Sex Offender?
Tier I Offenses
With Tier 1 sex offenders, for example, you must report once a year during your birth month. The reporting must be done in person, and it is wise to contact the reporting location for the days and times you can report.
This is an obligation that will remain in place for 15 years. The exception to this is if you can obtain an expungement for the sex offense you were convicted of (see: can a sex crime be expunged?). Some Tier 1 sex offenders are included on a non-public sex offender registry. However, no matter if it is a public or private sex offender registry, you must confirm that your information is removed from the sex offender registry if you receive an expungement.
It is important to note that in situations where sexual offenses involve an adult as the alleged victim, you will not be listed on the public sex offender registry.
The crimes that result in a Tier I classification include:
- Child pornography possession
- Sex offense by a sexually delinquent person
- CSC 3rd degree or CSC 4th degree with someone 18 or older
- Offering or engaging in prostitution with a minor
- Illegally restraining or imprisoning a minor
- Aggravated indecent exposure when a minor is present
- Violation of sex laws that involves a minor
- Assault and intent to commit criminal sexual conduct
Tier II Offenses
For Tier 2 sex offenders, it is necessary to report twice per year for 25 years. Reporting is required during your birth month and the corresponding six-month mark.
Tier II registered sex offenders have committed a sex offense that is more severe than what a Tier I offender did. Some of the crimes of sex offenses that result in Tier II status include:
- Promotion or distribution of child pornography
- Financing the product, producing, or creating child pornography
- Solicitation of a minor
- Gross indecency
- Offenses against individuals under 18, but over 13
- Assault to commit CSC
- Conspiring or procuring a person for prostitution
- Solicitation of prostitution
- CSC 2nd degree or 4th degree sexual assault
Tier III Offenses
If you register as a sex offender under a Tier III offense, the penalties based on Michigan and federal law are more serious. Some of the crimes that result in a Tier III Michigan sex offender registry offender include:
- CSC 1st degree
- Criminal sexual conduct 2nd degree
- Criminal sexual conduct 3rd degree
- Gross indecency with someone under 13
- Kidnapping a minor
- Enticing someone under 14 to detail them
- Criminal sexual condict 4th degree
Sex Offender Registration Requirements
All sex offenders must plan to comply with the requirements based on their sex offender registration status. Even while the law deters prosecution for unintentional violations, you still have a lot of responsibility to comply. You must also prepare and routinely assist in ensuring compliance (see: is failure to register as a sex offender a felony?).
It is also required for sex offenders to provide the necessary information. Some of the basic information includes:
- Your name
- Date of birth
- Social security number
- Temporary address
- Place of education
- Permanent address
- Employer address
- Workplace information
- Education information
You will also be required to provide information about your vehicle, license plate, and any out-of-state or out-of-country traveling you plan to do. This is typically required for anyone who is listed on the Michigan Sex Offender Registration.
Is There Anything Else a Sex Offender Needs to Include?
As a registered sex offender, you must comply with the set requirements. If you are not sure what this means, you need to seek clarification and ask plenty of questions to ensure you remain compliant.
For example, if registered sex offenders want to do any volunteer or charity work, you need to find out what information you should include. Based on the new law, this is because it is not clear if convicted sex offenders need to provide this information.
Also, when reporting your phone number, it is a good idea to find out if you should include any numbers that you may use that are not registered. The same is true for your email addresses.
It is important to note that if a sex offender’s information changes between their set reporting periods, they must update it within three business days. This would count as a normal work week – Monday through Friday.
Based on the new law, a change that has resulted in sex offender registration in Michigan is that reporting the changes can be done (in some cases) in methods besides in–person. However, they must be clearly expressed by your set reporting location.
There are some things that sex offenders must report in-person, however. This includes changing your employment, student status, or name. There are no alternative methods for reporting these changes when you are listed on private or public sex offender registries.
You can report these changes in-person if you are changing things like your email, address, telephone number, or car information. Registered sex offenders can also report these changes using the needed form and first-class mail.
Both the old and new laws contain varied and confusing legal interpretations. However, if SORA requires you to be listed on the sex offender registry, it is important that you fully understand the sex offender registration requirements.
If you are charged with criminal sexual conduct or some other sexual offense and are convicted, federal law states that you remain compliant with all sex registration laws. When you are required to register as a sex offender in Michigan, it is smart to consult with the local law enforcement agency or sex offender lawyers to ensure you fully understand your responsibilities.
After completing the sex offender registration process, it is necessary to know the rules to avoid additional criminal prosecution. As convicted felons, not adhering to the rules and regulations set for a sexual offender can have serious and severe consequences.
Consequences of Having to Register as a Sex Offender
The consequences can be far-reaching when your name is listed on the sex offender registry. When you register as a sex offender, you may experience the following issues:
- Issues getting a job
- Issues finding a place to live
- Restrictions regarding where you can travel (see: can sex offenders travel?)
- Denial of child custody
- The social stigma of having to register as a sex offender
Call an Attorney
If you are required to be on the sex offender registry, the impact on your life can be far-reaching. Due to the impact of having to register as a sex offender, it is recommended that you get in touch with female criminal defense attorney Nicole Blank Becker to schedule a free initial consultation.
Calling a criminal sexual conduct attorney right away may help you avoid having to register as a sex offender, which will help you avoid the other consequences of this, that we listed above.