Registering Sex Offenders

You know, I've been thinking a little bit about sex offender registration. In the past few weeks, I've noticed that my colleagues and I have picked up a number of sex offenses where the defendants are already registered sex offenders.

On one hand, it makes life easy. If your client is already a registered sex offender, you don't have to worry about avoiding a disposition that is going to make him have to start registering.

But, on the other hand, it makes me wonder, "What the heck is the point?" Did it deter the defendant? No. Did it alert the neighbors to keep their kids away from these guys? No. Are there enhanced sentences for repeat offenders? No, not any more than there would be for any other repeat offenders.

Although, I do question whether or not it could lead to more wrongful arrests. Perhaps if the police have a sex offense to solve in a given neighborhood, they'll go lock up the registered sex offender without much more investigation, leaving the real offender out on the streets. I'm not saying that's what has happened in any of my cases, or, at least, not that I know of yet, I just wonder if that's a possible factor.


  1. It is scarry the meanings carried by "sexual offender". You think sick rapist. In a quiet suburbs street, in Ohio, a registered sexual offender has bought a house. The neighbors hotly reacted: kids live in that street. They eventually put a sign out there to let everyone know. Kind of "Beware of the dog" sign. The good senior land owner was outraged when the police told him he could not do that, he even said that this criminal had mor rights than other citizens. Turns out that this "sexual offender" had an affair with a minor when he was younger. Does this has to follow him everywhere til the day he dies?

  2. What annoys me is that the Chicago Police on-line lists describe the offender pretty well, but have almost nothing about the offense itself, not even the year it happened or the prison term, just a Y/N flag if the victim was under 18. There's a big difference between a guy who had a 16-year old girlfriend when he was 19 and a guy who worked at a school and raped a child. There's also a difference between a guy who's been clean 20 years and a guy who just got out of prison last month.

  3. When I think of sex offenders I think of Jesus Quintana from The Big Lebowski.

    "What's this day of rest shit? What's this bullshit? I don't fuckin' care! It don't matter to Jesus. ... I would have fucked you in the ass Saturday. I fuck you in the ass next Wednesday instead."

    Which only goes to show you the odious mantle you assume when you become registered.

  4. I'm really impressed to hear how little stock some readers put into the label "sex offender."

    I haven't yet had to try a "failure to register" case, but I've come close. I always hope that jurors will argue this way ("Maybe his girlfriend when he was 16 when he was 18") and go nullification, even when, unfortunately, I know the facts of the underlying offense aren't so innocuous.

    But, it's good to hear that when the facts are so innocuous, the jury might "get" it.

  5. It is hard not to knee-jerk on this one and argue for tattoos or progressive punishment.

    I still think we should make them wear crime-specific t-shirts: I Rape Boys 4-6 Yrs Old - who am I kidding, I want to kill them. Horrible, I know, but I obsess about a bullet in the head.

    And then I find an old Andrew Vacchs novel and think I could do it if I were careful.


  6. Kill 'em?

    Guess it happened Saturday in Bellingham, Washington.

    One day we will figure out what a waste of time and money all this has been. Until then we will watch while politicians beat the dead horse. Every objective study shows sex offenders recidivate less than other criminals but since it's sex and this is America and we love witches: Gitty-up!

  7. I know that Dallas County (Bill Hill) recently pursued a case against a guy who was engaged to a 16 year old. She was impregnated by him, their families had been friends, and they had been dating for two years. Actually, she went to senior prom with him because he was only three and a half years older than her.

    Of course, Mr. Hill was able to produce enough evidence that a 19-year old had impregnated a then 15-year old girl. That was enough to get this guy branded a registered sex offender for life.

    I'm not at all against having a sex offender program, but I want to have one that actually works. This guy isn't someone that I should fear living next to my family (if I had a family). I want a system that actually works if it's going to be there at all.

  8. Here's a couple of posts I did on the issue of sex offenders. As has been mentioned, when we think of "sex offender" the thing that comes to mind is child molesters and forced rape. While I am a good Conservative, I think there may be some "bright line" rules in this area that are inherently inequitable.

  9. Ummm...Bullet in the head?

    Makes sense I guess, If we Americans don't understand something and don't want to deal with it then we MUST exterminate it!

    We've had 3 clients in the last four months who were hit with "Failing to register." All three were homeless and couldn't provide a current home address. They had all committed crimes many years ago (sex with underage minor prostitutes and I can't recall the 3rd case) and all have stayed on the straight and narrow (with the exception of a couple of drunk in public citations).

    They aren't saints but nobody deserves a bullet in the head. I don't care who you are.

  10. Okay, so the bullet in the head was a bit over the top. My sister is an emergency room doc who specializes in pediatric sexual assault, and when she needs to vent, she calls me and we talk. Normally, by the time we are done, I have an extreme intolerance for pedophiles.

    Would I *really* go bang-bang? Of course not, but would I obsess about it - sure, the same way I think about simple solutions to all complex problems.

  11. The present sex offender registry statutory requirements in most states are misleading the public and making folks less safe. I two clients who have to register and go through structured treatment programs for indicent exposure. One was standing in his yard naked and the other supposedly was seen wacking it in his own home and a neighbor drove by and saw him. Ridiculous! Although weird, these guys are not the offenders we shoudl be worried about. So, when folks look through the registry they feel surrounded by offenders and really only a relatively few of them are sexually dangerous predators.

  12. I don't understand why prior history of sex offenses to prove that an offender has a "propensity to commit sex crimes" is allowable because the crime is a sex offense, but is prejudicial virtually everywhere else.

  13. I thank God that sex offenders are being listed now. They will die one by one.