What Violations Can Land You on a Sex Offender Registry?

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP
April 29 2016

Most of us don’t want to see another person urinate in public, but did you know that such an offense is considered a sex offender crime? Before 1994, very few US states had laws requiring sex offenders register with local law enforcement. Since then, the federal government has enacted legislation and established uniform requirements on state sex offender registration and community notification programs.

Current sex-offender registry laws include a tiered system for classifying offenders and provide uniform minimum guidelines for registration. They also require periodic in-person registry information updates by convicted offenders, identify mandatory registry information, and standardize information for inter-jurisdiction and public sharing. As of 2015, more than 800,000 individuals were registered in state sex-offender databases.


Offenses that Can Lead to Sex Offender Registration

Many sex offender crimes fall under state jurisdictions, but several offenses are also covered by federal law. Offenses often fall into categories such as abuse, molestation, or exploitation of a minor, sexual conduct with a minor, indecent exposure or lewd acts, and sexual assault. Attempted offenses are also prosecuted. Also, failing to register as a sex offender and violating Sex Offender Registration statutes are prosecuted as sex offenses.

According to the US Department of Justice, sex offenders must register if convicted of any of the following offenses:

Tier 1 offenses involve an element of sexual contact or sexual acts and can include:

    • Having or receiving child pornography
    • Falsely imprisoning a minor
    • Video voyeurism of a minor
    • Traveling or facilitating others’ travel when the intent of the travel is to engage in illicit conduct
    • Transmitting information about a minor to further criminal sexual misconduct

Tier 2 offenses apply to people who have previously been convicted of a Tier 1 offense and can include:

    • Using minors in prostitution and/or sex trafficking
    • Enticing minors to engage in criminal sexual activity
    • Engaging in a non-forced sexual act with a minor aged 16 or 17 years
    • Producing or distributing child pornography
    • Using minors in sexual performance

Tier 3 offenses involve people who have been convicted of a Tier 2 offense and can include:

    • A non-parent kidnapping a minor
    • Sexual contact with minors under age 13
    • Sexual abuse, aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse of a minor, and abusive sexual contact with a minor under age 13

Sex Offender Registration and Other Legal Consequences

Convicted sex offenders face legal consequences such as jail or prison time and/or fines, depending on jurisdictional sentencing guidelines and the judge’s decision. Convicted sex offenders may also be required to register in national or jurisdictional databases. The length of time a person remains on a registry can vary by jurisdiction, crime, and sentencing requirements, and can range from a default minimum of 5 years to life.

Sex offender crimes land an individual on sex offender registries, making much of an offender’s personal information available to the public, though some information is prohibited from public availability. Prohibited information includes the victim’s identity, references to arrests not resulting in conviction, and the sex offender’s Social Security number and passport and immigration document numbers.

According to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), information about sex offenders that is made available to the public includes:

    • The sex offender’s name and all aliases.
    • The residential address(es) or other information about where the sex offender lives or will live.
    • The address(es) of the sex offender’s work place(s).
    • The address of place(s) where the sex offender is or will be a student.
    • The license plate number and description of any vehicle owned or operated by the sex offender.
    • A physical description of the sex offender.
    • A current photograph of the sex offender.
    • The text of the sex offender crimes that resulted in registry as well as any other sex offense that has resulted in conviction.

Sex Offender Searches for Employment Background Checks

InfoMart offers our clients a National Sex Offender Search that provides a comprehensive look at sex offender registry data from US states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. If a potential “hit” is identified on the National Sex Offender search, InfoMart will pursue the originating case information that prompted the registry, confirm that the identifiers belong to your candidate, and ensure compliance in reporting with state and federal laws.

We include the National Sex Offender Search free of charge when you order a National Criminal History, and we also offer the search as a stand-alone service. The National Sex Offender search is an effective screening tool that allows you to identify additional records you may not have found in the course of a standard criminal history search.

InfoMart's Criminal History Trends Report: 2009 – 2018

Uncover insights that include:

  • how background screening is getting better
  • percentage of violence, theft, fraud, and drug offenses
  • average number of applicants with criminal records

    About Tammy Cohen

    Tammy Cohen, an industry pioneer and expert in identity and employment screening, founded InfoMart 30 years ago. Deemed the “Queen of Screen,” she’s been a force behind industry-leading innovations. She was most recently the first-to-market with a fully compliant sanctions search, as well as a suite of identity services that modernizes talent onboarding. Tammy revolutionized the screening industry when she stepped into the field, developing the first client-facing application and a due diligence criminal search that has since become standard for all background screening companies. Cohen has received national awards and honors for her business and civic involvement, including Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 25 Women-Owned Firms in Atlanta, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year award, the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s Kathryn Woods Racial Justice Award, and a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record. To learn more about Tammy, visit

    About InfoMart

    InfoMart has been revolutionizing the global background and identity screening industry for 30 years, providing businesses the information they need to make informed hiring decisions. They develop innovative technology that modernizes talent onboarding, including a first-to-market biometric identity authentication application and a verified sanctions search. The WBENC-certified company is a founding member of the Professional Background Screening Association, and they have achieved PBSA accreditation in recognition of their consistent business practices and commitment to compliance with the FCRA. The company is dedicated to customer service, speed, and accuracy, and it has been recognized for its success, workplace culture, and corporate citizenship with over 45 industry awards. To Get the Whole Story on InfoMart, please visit, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

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