Sex crimes often are perceived as particularly appalling, and it can be difficult to move on with your life after being labeled as a sex offender by the criminal justice system. With developments in technology over the last decade, the area of sex crimes has expanded significantly to include numerous computer-related and online offenses.
Since 2006, a federal law has required that anyone convicted of a sex offense must register so that members of the community can have this information for public safety purposes. Anyone convicted of a sex offense must register with the national sex offender registration system, which is known as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).
In many cases, someone who was convicted of a sex offense, and thus required to register through SORNA, might believe that she or he was wrongly convicted of the crime. While there are many different types of offenses that can result in a SORNA registration requirement, and some registered sex offenders might have been wrongly accused and convicted of the crime, a SORNA violation can lead to serious criminal penalties. It is important to seek counsel from an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer.
SORNA Violations: Explanation
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, requiring sex offender registration under SORNA provides local and federal authorities with a way of monitoring and tracking sex offenders after they are released into a community.
What is a SORNA violation? In short, SORNA was established through Title 1 of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. It requires sex offenders to register if they have been convicted of any sex offenses within any jurisdiction of the U.S., “including convictions for sex offenses under federal, military, state, territorial, tribal, or local law,” according to the federal Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART).
You can be convicted of a SORNA violation if the following conditions are met:
- You are required to register under SORNA;
- You traveled to another state or country; and
- You knowingly failed to register or to update your registration appropriately.
What information must be contained in your registration? The U.S. Department of Justice cites the following data:
- Offender’s name;
- Current location of the offender; and
- Past offenses.
SORNA Violations: Criminal Penalties
As the U.S. Department of Justice makes clear, it is a federal crime to violate SORNA. This law requires that sex offenders update their registration information “in each jurisdiction in which they reside, are employed, or attend school.” In other words, failing to register in any of these areas can result in charges related to a SORNA violation. Even if you believe you were wrongly convicted of the sex offense, you must register and continue to update your registration in each and every jurisdiction in order to avoid the penalties association with a violation charge. Persons who have been convicted of sex offenses need to be certain that they have registered appropriately through SORNA.
What are the criminal penalties for a SORNA violation? Under 18 U.S. Code § 2250, or Failure to Register, someone who is convicted of a SORNA violation “shall be fined . . . or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.” If you were charged with a SORNA violation, you may not have understood the manner in which you were required to register, and you can mount a defense with the help of a Texas SORNA violation defense attorney.
SORNA Violations: Defending You in Federal Court
There are many ways in which your federal criminal defense lawyer can argue that you did not violate SORNA and should not be subject to the accompanying fine and/or period of imprisonment. According to 18 U.S. Code § 2250, an affirmative defense to a SORNA violation charge includes the following elements:
- The individual encountered uncontrollable circumstances that prevented him or her from complying with SORNA;
- S/he did not contribute to those uncontrollable circumstances “in reckless disregard of the requirement to comply”; and
- S/he complied with the registration requirement under SORNA as soon as the uncontrollable circumstances preventing him or her from complying ceased to exist.
There are many other possible defenses if you are charged with a SORNA violation that will depend on your specific circumstances and the facts of your case. You may even be able to raise a constitutional challenge in your SORNA case.
If you were charged with a SORNA violation, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced Houston SORNA lawyer as soon as possible. If you are convicted of a SORNA violation, you could face up to 10 years of imprisonment. Do not risk losing your rights. Contact The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today to learn more about how we can defend against these serious charges.
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