Registering as a Sex Offender: How Does This Affect Your Life?
Aggressive Criminal Defense Lawyers for New Mexico Clients
All states participate in the sex offender registry, which is an official system that allows government authorities to track the names and activities of sex offenders – including those who are no longer serving time in prison or on parole. A sex offender registration can be devastating for a convicted person, and in the U.S., many civil rights organizations have criticized the use of these databases – with many studies finding no actual use to these registries or increase in effectiveness.
The True Consequences of Being a Convicted Sex Offender in Albuquerque
Per the Center for Sex Offender Management’s 2007 publication, 150,000 of the 1.5 million criminals serving time in state and federal prisons were convicted of a sex crime. Approximately 40 percent of those included rape offenses, while 60 percent consisted of other sexual acts (i.e., fondling, indecent exposure, and lewdness).
The public has an opinion about sex offenders, especially when they move into residential neighborhoods. People make various assumptions about those convicted of sex crimes and often treat these individuals as though they will commit a crime again. Sometimes, an innocent evening as a young adult can turn into a lifetime of public shunning and humiliation.
Due to the fear of a sex offender repeating his or her act, some consequences come with a guilty conviction, including:
- Limiting where an offender can work, live, or travel.
- Restricting access to social media and certain websites.
- Requiring that the offender register as a sex offender and update their whereabouts if they move.
- Monitoring by local law enforcement.
- No longer participating in activities that involve children, including religious or familial activities.
While numerous consequences come with these convictions, today we focus on how registering as a sex offender affects a person’s quality of life – and why you want to aggressively fight any sex offender convictions, including those that seem “innocent.”
Why Does the Sex Offender Registry Exist?
In 1996, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), created a database that allowed them to track and monitor convicted sex offenders. Individuals convicted of sexual offenses against minors, violent sexual acts, and predatory sexual crimes were followed in the database.
The purpose was to monitor these offenders, prevent reoccurrence, and protect the public. However, over the last 20 years, these registries have released information about offenders publicly, and it tends to do more harm than good. Not all registered offenders are guilty, and some are guilty of minor offenses that do not pose a threat to society. Nevertheless, they are forced to be on the registry and forced to endure the same public consequences as those convicted of violent sexual acts, such as rapists and child molesters.
What Are the Consequences of Being on the Sex Offender Registry?
No matter what your conviction is for, if you have been convicted of a sex crime, you are now branded by society as a sexual offender. You must register on the database and continue to register until the court deems you are no longer a threat. If you relocate, you must update your whereabouts with the registry, and in some cases, the courts require that you remain in the database the rest of your life.
Here are some of the potentially life-long consequences.
If you are in a public database, you have no privacy. These databases are designed to keep tabs on you, know your address, know where you work, and even have your full name and birthdate. They are public records, and some organizations will share your location with neighbors and employers.
Loss of Child Custody
No matter what the conviction is for – even if it has nothing to do with children in any way – if you have custody of minor children you may lose your custody. You could be accused of being a danger to your own children, and consequently may lose your custody rights.
Restricted Employment Opportunities
Most states limit where you can work as a registered sex offender, and New Mexico is no exception. You may be unable to work in schools, daycare, or even some healthcare settings. Furthermore, you may be unable to work in a position of power, such as a doctor. This registration can dramatically reduce what employment opportunities are available to you, and combined with a criminal record, you may have very few options.
Restricted Housing Options
When you apply for housing, many landlords require information about your criminal history. Furthermore, if you are a registered sex offender, you will be limited to how close you can be to gathering areas for children, such as schools or parks. Depending on the city, this could leave you with only a few blocks to find a home, and still, you must pass the landlords criminal background check requirements.
Continuous Registration Requirements
Each state now has their database along with the federal database to keep track of registered sex offenders. Therefore, when you relocate you may need to update the federal and state agencies.
Bias, Intolerance, and Prejudice from the Community
Once you are convicted and registered as a sex offender, friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances may view you quite differently. You may face threats from the public, outcry from neighbors if you relocate, and you may even deal with physical or mental abuse.
You Can Protect Your Future and Reputation
Once you have been branded as a sex offender, you cannot recover. Depending on the crime, you could be forced to register and renew for the rest of your life – and that is not a burden you should accept lightly.
If you have been arrested for a sex crime, it is not too late. Contact the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices team at 505-375-4767 to protect your rights and avoid a future of sex offender registry consequences.