Sex Offender Registry
Being added to North Carolina’s sex offender registry could have a significant and lasting impact on every aspect of your life, including your ability to secure housing, find employment, and more. To make matters even more difficult, North Carolina offers an app that allows anyone with a smartphone to search the sex offender registry at their leisure. This can leave registrants vulnerable to harassment from neighbors and other acquaintances.
Many sex offenders say that having to register themselves in a publicly available database is more difficult to cope with than being behind bars. If you are hoping to avoid being listed in the North Carolina sex offender registry, it is absolutely crucial to hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to handle your case.
The Raleigh criminal defense lawyers at Kurtz & Blum, PLLC have been representing clients charged with sex-related crimes in North Carolina since 1998. If you hire us to represent you, we will put our 50 years of combined experience to work crafting an effective defense for your case, which could potentially help you avoid being listed as a sex offender.
Contact us today for a confidential case review.
Sex Offender Registry Overview
The North Carolina Sex Offender Registry, which is maintained by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, is a free, public database that was established in January 1996. Anyone can search the database and obtain statistics on sex crimes that have occurred in North Carolina.
The sex offender registry can be downloaded as a smartphone app as well. Through the app, members of the public can run a search for registered sex offenders who reside within a one, three, or five-mile radius. Any individual can also sign up to receive email alerts if an offender moves into their area.
Currently, there are more than 25,000 registered sex offenders in North Carolina, according to SafeHome. The results from their research showed that North Carolina has the ninth most sex offenders of any state in the U.S.
Who Is Required to Register as a Sex Offender in North Carolina and When Must They Register?
There are four main groups of individuals who could be required to register as a sex offender in North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association:
- North Carolina residents with a reportable conviction
- Individuals with a reportable conviction who move to North Carolina from another state
- Nonresident students who either have a reportable conviction or were required to register as a sex offender in their home state
- Nonresident workers who either have a reportable conviction or were required to register as a sex offender in their home state
There are numerous crimes that are considered “reportable convictions” in North Carolina. You will most likely have to register as a sex offender if you committed crimes against minors such as:
- Statutory rape
- Kidnapping a child
- Felonious restraint of a child
- Indecency with a minor
- Permitting a parent or guardian to perform a sex act on a child
- Sex crimes involving a victim below the age of 15 if you were at least six years older
You will also have to register if you committed or tried to commit violent sex crimes against adults. This can include incest, rape (first and second degree), sex trafficking, sexual battery, and indecent exposure (if you were convicted on felony charges).
If you were convicted in North Carolina and placed on probation, you must register right away. If you were recently released from prison after serving a sentence for a reportable conviction, then you have three days to register with the county sheriff.
Nonresidents with a reportable conviction who move to North Carolina have three days to register once they’ve established residency in North Carolina or after they have been in the state for a period of at least fifteen days, whichever comes first.
Convicted nonresident students who move to North Carolina must register as soon as they enroll in a North Carolina school or college.
Any nonresident worker who spends more than 14 continuous days or more than 30 total calendar days annually in North Carolina is also required to register, even if they primarily reside in another state.
What Is SORNA?
SORNA (Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act) is a national sex offender registry that was established in 2006. SORNA is accessible to the public and is regularly used by federal authorities and local law enforcement to obtain information about convicted sex offenders. Each registrant must provide their name, location, and details about their past crimes. This federal system is designed to track and monitor convicted sex offenders after they are released from custody.
If you are required to register for SORNA and you fail to do so, you can be charged with a federal crime. You can also be charged with a federal crime if you neglect to update your registration when you change residences.
There are three tiers of offenses in SORNA: Tier 1 individuals are required to register for at least 15 years (though if the offender maintains a clean record, they can have that reduced to 10 years). Tier 2 offenders must register for at least 25 years. And Tier 3 individuals require lifetime registration.
Limitations to Daily Life
Registered sex offenders must abide by certain restrictions in North Carolina. For instance, they may not:
- Reside within 1,000 feet of a childcare facility or school
- Walk within 300 feet of a daycare facility, playground, school, or other location that is designated for the care of minors
- Take care of children at their residence
- Seek employment or volunteer in any location where their work duties would include interacting with or caring for a minor
- Obtain CDLs, EMS certification, or funeral licenses, in some cases
As you can see, registered sex offenders in North Carolina live under many strict limitations. If you have been charged with a reportable sex offense and want to avoid having to register as a sex offender, you need to hire a strong criminal defense attorney to handle your case.
Possible Defenses to Avoid the Sex Offender Registry
No matter what sex crime charges you are facing, the prosecution must be able to prove every element of your charges beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction. The attorneys at Kurtz & Blum, PLLC will conduct a comprehensive investigation into the details of your case and the accusations against you. We can use the evidence we gather to build a defense on your behalf. Possible defenses might include:
- False testimony and accusations
- Mistaken identity
- Flawed methods and poorly conducted forensic tests
- Bias or discrimination on the part of law enforcement, the state, or witnesses to the sex crime on the basis of race, sexual orientation, religion, gender, etc.
Some defendants may argue that the sex act in question was consensual, which can also be a possible defense that weakens the prosecution’s case.
In some cases, agreeing to a plea bargain may be in a defendant’s best interest. If the prosecution offers a plea bargain, our lawyers will discuss the terms of the plea with you and confirm that you understand the pros and cons before accepting any plea agreement.
How Courts Might Review Sex Offender Registry Laws
In recent years, advocates in North Carolina have challenged the state’s universal punishments for sex crimes no matter what the extent of each crime was and regardless of the context surrounding the crime.
For instance, in North Carolina, anyone who is ordered to register as a sex offender is prohibited from going into a church, barred from residing near locations where children congregate such as schools and daycare centers, and prevented from walking near playgrounds and daycare centers. Whether or not the offender was an actual danger to children, they still had to abide by these restrictions.
Although the crimes each offender has been convicted of are publicly viewable, members of the public browsing the sex offender registry don’t have the ability to contextualize each crime nor how each conviction was reached. While certain laws are critical to protect the public from dangerous predators, North Carolina courts could consider reviewing how the restrictions placed on sex offenders are structured, given that not every sex offender is a threat to children or the public. North Carolina courts have an opportunity to reevaluate the current system and distinguish between the most serious offenses and the minor ones.
Removal from Sex Offender Registry
There are two main types of sex offender registration: lifetime and up to 30 years. Lifetime registrants (such as sexually violent predators) cannot get off the registry unless their conviction is overturned or tossed out by a court, but non-lifetime registrants might be able to terminate their registration after a period of time.
Where Must I Petition for Removal from the Registry?
If you want to file a petition to remove your name from the North Carolina’s sex offender registry, you will need to petition the Superior Court in the district where you were initially convicted. If you were convicted in another state, you will need to file your petition with the Superior Court in the same district where you currently reside and inform the sheriff in the county where you were originally convicted.
When Can I Get Off the Registry?
If you are not a lifetime registrant, you have the option to petition the court to remove your name from the registry after 10 years. However, if the court denies your petition, you won’t be able to petition the court again for one year.
Contact Kurtz & Blum Today
If you are facing serious criminal charges, you need accomplished, legal representation to defend your rights, advocate for your interests, and provide you with solid legal advice. At Kurtz & Blum, PLLC, we understand how having to register as a sex offender can upend your life. We will work tirelessly to present an ironclad defense on your behalf. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.