The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) has become a nightmare for a lot of people convicted of crimes like indecent exposure for streaking or urinating in an alley after drinking a little too much. It has also trapped people who were required to register after an angry parent pressed statutory rape charges against their minor's overage boyfriend or girlfriend and people who were convicted of now-legal consensual acts, like oral sex. If your name is on the sex offender registry for something like this, learn what you can do.
If you were convicted of a crime that's now legal:
Anti-sodomy laws, which were often expanded to include oral sex, were used to persecute homosexual couples in the U.S. until 2003 when the Supreme Court ruled that they were unconstitutional. Despite the ruling, many people convicted of sexual acts between consenting adults still remain registered sex offenders—listed in public databases—because there was no requirement to remove their names from the lists.
It's now possible to have your name removed from sex offender databases by submitting documentation to the Department of Justice that proves that your name was added to the list as the result of an act that has been decriminalized. Because the process can be complicated, consider hiring a criminal defense attorney to help you through it. He or she can assist in gathering old police records and affidavits, if necessary, to meet the requirements to have your name removed. Once your name is removed from the Federal list, you can apply to have your name removed from any state lists as well.
If you were convicted of another sexually-related crime
Depending on how your crime was classified, you could be facing anywhere from 15 years on the registry for a Tier 1, non-violent act (like public indecency), to a lifetime on the registry (for more serious offenses). That means that one foolish act when you were 18 could haunt you the rest of your life, long after you've paid your debt to society.
However, there is hope that you can reduce the impact of SORNA on your life. Depending on your circumstances, you may want to try to have your name removed from your state's registry, the federal registry, or both. While the process for removal from the federal registry is lengthy and complicated, it is possible provided that you haven't been convicted of any serious crimes within the last 10 years, have no other sexually-based offenses, and complete an acceptable rehabilitation course.
Getting your name removed from your state's registry may be simpler and could suit your needs. For example, if you're a long-term resident of Tennesse who was convicted of statutory rape, you can apply to have your name removed from the state's registry if there was less than a 10-year age gap between you and your partner.
For more information on what you can do to get your name removed from a sex offender registry, contact a criminal attorney, such as Alexander & Associates, P.C., in your area.