A sex offense conviction – whether after a full jury trial or after a guilty plea – will have life-long consequences that go beyond a normal conviction. It is crucial that you understand all of those consequences before deciding how to resolve a sex offense or rape charge, and that you consult your Raleigh criminal lawyer about the possible impact sex offender registry will have.
With the exception of Sexual Battery (a class A1 misdemeanor), all other sexual assault crimes in North Carolina are felonies. Obviously, a sex offense conviction will therefore carry with it all of the consequences of a felony conviction (and more), including:
- A convicted felon for the remainder of a person’s natural life (under current law).
- Loss of citizenship rights (voting) upon conviction, until the prison sentence or probationary period ends.
- Loss under federal and state laws of the rights to possess ammunition or firearms.
- Loss of ability to be licensed in certain professions that prohibit convicted felons.
- Reduction in employability depending on the field and kind of work.
- Loss of ability to serve in the armed forces.
STATIC-99 and Risk Assessment
If convicted by plea or by trial, the offender will be interviewed by a member of either community corrections (probation) or the Department of Adult Corrections to undergo a STATIC-99 evaluation. The STATIC-99 form (pdf) is only 10 questions long, and these questions cannot be “gamed”. The questions reward offenders who are older, have been in long-standing sexual relationships, have no prior convictions, and where the offense has occurred between family members or friends. The form punishes people who have unstable backgrounds, are young, have committed an offense against strangers, and have prior criminal and sex-related convictions.
The higher the score, the more intense the possible supervision. In North Carolina, a person with a high score is likely to be placed on Satellite Based Monitoring (SBM).
North Carolina Sex Offenders Control Program
This program is an educational program designed for people who have been convicted of a sex-related offense. Most, but not all, participants in the program will are also required to register under the Sex Offender Registry program. This program, also called SOAR for people who participate in the program while in custody, requires, among other things, the offender to not only admit his or her conduct, but also to potentially describe in the conduct.
If, for instance, someone is placed on the program as a result of a probationary outcome, but fails to admit his or her conduct, he or she may be revoked on probation for failure to successfully complete the Sex Offenders Control Program.
Sex Offender Registry
The sex offender registry program is defined at Chapter 14, Article 27A of the North Carolina General Statutes.
With the exception of certain offenses, for instance felony secret peeing (see State v. Pell) where little competent evidence supports registration, most sex assault offenses, including sexual battery, are almost certain to result in at least sex offender registration.
The minimum registration period is 30 years, although an offender can petition to remove himself from the registry after 10 years. Whether a person will be removed depends upon his conduct over the 10 years, and upon the judge who reviews the petition.
Lifetime registration is required for recidivists or sexually violent predators, based on the STATIC-99 results.
Requirements of the Sex Offender Registry include, but are not limited to:
- Registration – “a State resident… who has a reportable conviction shall be required to maintain registration with the sheriff of the county where the person resides”. Failure to register is a Class F felony. Assisting a sex offender in avoiding registration is a Class H felony.
- Re-Registration – If someone moves into the state or a new county, or moves within the same county to a new address, must re-register within three (3) days.
- De-Registration – A person who moves out of a county or the state must inform the previous county sheriff of having left the prior location.
- Schooling or Employment – A person must also register with the county in which he or she works or attends school, if that county differs from the county where he or she lives.
- Change of Employer or School – A person must also keep the sheriff updated as to place of schooling or place of employment, should those change.
- Online Identifier Registration – A person must also register his or her online identifier (screen name or email address) with the sheriff, and must inform the sheriff of any new identifier within ten (10) days.
- Social Networking – A person on the sex offender registry is banned from using social networking sites, including, but not limited to, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Pinterest and chat networks, including, but not limited to IRC, MSN, AOL, Apple’s Messenger or iChat service.
- Public Database – North Carolina, like virtually all states, keeps a Sex Offender registry that is publicly accessible. (There are also a variety of Apps for mobile devices such as the iPhone and Android.)
Other restrictions include:
- Residential Restrictions – A registered sex offender may not live within 1,000 feet of a school or child care center. This includes many churches which have daycare centers, although a recent ruling allows registered offenders to attend church.
- Employment Restrictions – A registered sex offender may work or attend school within 1,000 feet of a school or child care facility.
- Child Sex Offenders – A registered sex offender who was convicted of an offense involving a child (under the age of 16) is subject to an additional restriction – not to be on the premises of or within 300 feet “of any place intended primarily for the use, care, or supervision of minors, including, but not limited to, schools, children’s museums, child care centers, nurseries, and playgrounds.”
- Commercial Drivers License (CDL) Restriction – A registered sex offender may not possess a CDL with a “P” (Passenger) or “S” (School Bus) endorsement.
Satellite Based Monitoring
Satellite Based Monitoring may be required for offenders convicted of certain especially violent or egregious offenses and as the result of a Court Order, usually following a STATIC-99 determination. SBM requires that the person wear a monitor, and tampering with the monitor may result in a Class E felony. The length of monitoring can be established by the Court, or can be for a person’s natural life.
Collateral Consequences of a Sex Offense Conviction
A conviction for a sexual assault or sex offense can also have collateral consequences. Following a person’s conviction for a garden-variety of felony, a person generally can move to any state in the country – assuming he has completed his probation and prison sentence – without any issues.
But a sex offender who has completed his punishment, but is still on the sex offender registry must get the approval of not only the state he wishes to move to, but also must inform North Carolina of his departure. Since many states may be loathe to accept new sex offenders, moving to a new state, especially a state where the person has no previous ties, may be difficult.
Employment consequences are some of the most severe, not just because any profession that regularly deals with children is likely to be off-limits, but because of the stigma associated with a sex offender registry. That said, someone with trade skills is likely to do fine.
A person on the sex offender registry must also consider where will live in relationship to schools, parks, and places where children congregate. Wake County has a very large number of such facilities, and living in the more populous areas of the county may be impossible. The Wake County Sheriff’s department maintains maps that show places which are outside the 1,000 foot limit.
Immigration consequences are clear. A person convicted of a sex offense who is not a legal resident of the United States will be deported.
The United States Constitution prohibits ex post facto (after the fact) punishments for criminal convictions. If you’re convicted of a bank robbery and serve your sentence, the government may not come back and impose additional punishments upon you after the fact.
Sex Offenses are a notable exception. The Supreme Court has ruled that the registry, as much as it may seem like a punishment, is not a punishment at all, but a public safety response by the government. Consequently, the registry and all its myriad conditions can change over time, and those changes apply to people who have previously been convicted.