What Crimes Can Lead to Classifying You as a Sex Offender?


Being classified as a sex offender can be devastating and can change your life permanently. If convicted, a sex offender usually serves time in jail or prison and must register routinely with his/her state’s Sex Offender Registry for a specified length of time. Before 1994, just a few U.S. states had laws that required sex offenders to register with local law enforcement. In 1994, the federal government enacted legislation and established uniform requirements on state sex offender registration and community notification programs.

At present, sex-offender laws have defined a tiered system for classifying offenders and have provided uniform minimum guidelines for registration. These laws, in particular the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), have also put in place a required periodic in-person registration by convicted offenders, identification of mandatory registry information, and standardized information for public sharing and crossing jurisdictions.

Tiered System for Classifying Sex Offender Crimes

Generally, sex offenses are in categories such as abuse, molestation of a minor, exploitation of a minor, sexual conduct with a minor, indecent exposure or lewd acts, and sexual assault. Attempted offenses are also prosecuted. Additionally, failure to register as a sex offender and violating Sex Offender Registration statutes are prosecuted as sex offenses.

Tier 1 Sex-Offender Crimes

Tier 1 covers relatively minor sex crimes, including most misdemeanors and some nonviolent felonies. The minimum registration requirements for Tier 1 offenders, as stipulated in the SORNA, is 15 years. Sex offenses in Tier 1 involve an element of sexual contact or sexual acts and can include:

  • Being in possession of or receiving child pornography
  • Imprisoning a minor
  • Watching a video of a minor
  • Traveling or assisting in the travel of others when the intention is to engage in illicit conduct with a minor
  • Communicating information about a minor that furthers criminal sexual misconduct

Tier 2 Sex-Offender Crimes

The U.S. law defines a sex offender convicted of Tier 2 sex crimes as having moderate risk of re-offending. Tier 2 may have been committed after the offender became a Tier 1 sex offender. As defined in SORNA, a level 2 sex offender is required by law to register in the sex offender registry for 25 years. Sex offenses in Tier 2 include the following crimes:

  • Using minors in prostitution and/or sex trafficking
  • Persuading minors to participate in criminal sexual activity
  • Being in a non-forced sexual act with a minor aged 16 or 17 years old
  • Creating or distributing child pornography
  • Using minors in sexual performance

Tier 3 Sex-Offender Crimes

A Tier 3 sex offender is the most serious classification. This level of sex offender must register for life, unless he/she is a juvenile delinquent in which cases the registration period is 25 years if there is a clean record. Tier 3 sex offenses involve offenders who have been convicted of a Tier 2 offense and can include the following:

  • Kidnapping a minor (excluding a parent or guardian)
  • Sexual contact with minors under the age of 13
  • Sexual abuse, aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse of a minor, and abusive sexual contact with a minor under the age of 13

Sex Offender Registration

Convicted sex offenders are mandated to register periodically with jurisdictional and national databases. Failure to do so may result in imprisonment and/or fines. The sentencing depends on jurisdictional guidelines and the judge’s decision. Sex offender registries avail a lot of the offender’s personal information to the public. According to SORNA, information that is made public includes:

  • Name and all aliases
  • Residential address(es)
  • Address(es) of the sex offender’s work place(s)
  • Address of place where the sex offender is or will be a student
  • License place number and description of any vehicle owned or operated by the sex offender
  • Physical description of the sex offender
  • Current photograph of the sex offender
  • Text accounting of the convicted sex offense

Call Us When Charged with a Sex Crime

Don’t hesitate to act when charged with a sex crime. You need a sex-offense lawyer who has the skills and experience to fight for the best possible result for you. Our lawyers at Coolidge Law Firm have those skills and experience. If you are facing charges of a sexually motivated offense, call us today at (919) 239-8448 or complete the contact form below. We represent clients in state and federal court in Wake County.

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