Sex Offender Registration and Federal Law
In Colorado sex offender laws are among the most strict in the country. The sex offender registration laws are part of the mix and arise- for the most part out of Federal Law. One of the primary Federal Sex Offender Registration Laws is the Adams Walsh Act.
This article addresses that Act.Colorado Sex Offender Registration and Federal Law. The Adam Walsh Act
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act is a federal statute that was signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush on July 27, 2006. The Walsh Act organizes sex offenders into three tiers and mandates that Tier 3 offenders (the most serious tier) update their whereabouts every three months with lifetime registration requirements. Tier 2 offenders must update their whereabouts every six months with 25 years of registration, and Tier 1 offenders (which includes minors as young as 14 years of age) must update their whereabouts every year with 15 years of registration.
Failure to register and update information is a felony under the law.
The Act also creates a national sex offender registry and instructs each state and territory to apply identical criteria for posting offender data on the Internet (i.e., offender’s name, address, date of birth, place of employment, photograph, etc.) The Act was named for Adam Walsh, an American boy who was abducted from a Florida shopping mall and later found murdered.
The Adam Walsh Act emerged from Congress following the passage of separate bills in the House and Senate (H.R. 3132 and S. 1086 respectively). The Act is also known as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), the majority of the provisions of which were enacted as 42 U.S.C. §16911 et seq.
The act’s provisions fall into four categories: a revised sex offender registration system, child and sex related amendments to federal criminal and procedure, child protective grant programs, and other initiatives designed to prevent and punish sex offenders and those who victimize children.
The sex offender registration provisions replace the Jacob Wetterling Act provisions with a statutory scheme under which states are required to modify their registration systems in accordance with federal requirements at the risk of losing 10% of their Byrne program law enforcement assistance funds. The act seeks to close gaps in the prior system, provide more information on a wider range of offenders, and make the information more readily available to the public and law enforcement officials.
At the time of passage, at least 100,000 of more than a half million sex offenders in the United States and the District of Columbia were ‘missing’ and unregistered as required by law. The act allocated federal funding was to assist states in maintaining and improving these programs so a comprehensive system for tracking sex offenders and alerting communities would be developed.Compliance
Compliance is monitored by the SMART office of the United States Department of Justice.The Act
Gives the U.S. Attorney General the authority to apply the law retroactively (cf. ex post facto law).
Gives a federal Judge the ability to civilly commit individualswho are in the custody of the federal prison system if it is proven that the individual
- has engaged or attempted to engage in sexually violent conduct or child molestation;
- suffers from a serious mental illness, abnormality, or disorder; and,
- as a result, would have serious difficulty refraining from sexually violent conduct or child molestation if released. A hearing is available to the involuntarily committed individual every six months to reconsider their commitment status if requested by council or the person in the federal treatment program.
Establishes a national database which will incorporate the use of DNA evidence collection and DNA registry and tracking of convicted sex offenders with Global Positioning System technology.
The law defines and requires a three-tier classification system for sex offenders, based on offense committed, replacing the older system based on risk of re-offence.
Tier 1 sex offenders are required to register for 15 years; tier 2 for 25 years and tier 3 offenders must register for life.
Increases the mandatory minimum incarceration period of 25 years for kidnapping or maiming a child and 30 years for sex with a child younger than 12 or for sexually assaulting a child between 13 and 17 years old. Increases the penalties for sex trafficking of children and child prostitution.Widens federal funding to assist local law enforcement in tracking sexual exploitation of minors on the Internet. Creates a National Child Abuse Registry to protect children from being adopted by convicted child abusers. Limits the defense access to examine child exploitation material which is the subject of a charge, such that examination may only be conducted in a government building.Registration Requirements. The Tier System
The required retroactive application of requirements will be defined by criteria relating to the nature of their sex offenses, not by severity or risk of re-offense, nor will it differentiate between violent or nonviolent offenses. For example, a Tier 3 sex offender who was released from imprisonment for such an offense in 1930 will still have to register for the remainder of his or her life. A Tier 2 sex offender convicted in 1980 is already more than 25 years out from the time of release. A Tier 1 will have to register for 10–15 years. In such cases, a jurisdiction may credit the sex offender with the time elapsed from his or her release.Effects
Since its enactment, the Adam Walsh Act (AWA) has come under intense grassroots scrutiny for its far-reaching scope and breadth. Even before any state adopted AWA, several sex offenders were prosecuted under its regulations. This has resulted in one life sentence for failure to register, due to the offender being homeless and not being able to maintain a physical address. The Adam Walsh Act requires anyone convicted of a sex crime to register as a sex offender where it will be posted on the internet for all to see.Criticism
The law has been criticized for its over-breadth, for being applied retroactively, and for demonizing people who had been convicted of what are in many cases non-violent offenses or have served their sentences or probation and committed no new offences
The law has also been criticized for having unintended consequences.
Several civil rights groups including those who are advocates for child victims have argued that this law and those like it actually put children in harm’s way. By placing everyone who has ever been convicted of a sex crime onto the internet registry, the Government is essentially making it impossible for parents to identify who is truly a threat and who is not. Currently, Texas places children as young as ten years old onto the internet sex offender registry. It has been argued that money spent monitoring these low-risk offenders is a waste of tax payer money and resources.
Others argue the act is an ex post facto law, a law applied retroactively, which is prohibited by the Constitution. Article I, Section 9 of the United States Constitution provides that, “No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.” This statement has been interpreted as only applying to further punishment but it has also been argued that since it clearly states that no law of its type shall be passed, that this includes all laws including those deemed as punishment or not punishment. This interpretation has allowed for offenders to be punished whenever a new law is passed that is retroactive, thus giving the Government the authority to re-punish an offender throughout their lives.Influence on Visa Process
A collateral effect of the new legislation was its implications on the United States Permanent Resident Card process. Until January 2007, U.S. nationals living abroad who married a local and intended to obtain green cards for their spouse and any immediate family members were able to initiate and complete the majority of the application process at the local U.S. Embassy/Consulate. However, because of the newly enhanced background check and criminal history data trail requirements, the new law had initially been interpreted by the Bureau of Consular Affairs and USCIS as leaving Consular officers ill-equipped to fully handle the I-130 adjucation process. Thus, as of January 2007, I-130 petitions, supporting documentation, or fee payments could no longer be completed in the country of the foreign national.
However, the government made a quick about-face two months later. Due to a significant number of complaints from applicants about the resultant processing delays and from immigration officials about the deluge of paperwork that came with the centralization of the process, the visa petitioning process for immediate relatives of US citizens was resumed at U.S. embassies on March 21, 2007. However, all embassies were required to add a 6 month residency requirement for the US Citizen to file an application directly.
The Act also for the first time limits the rights of citizens or permanent residents to petition to immigrate their spouse or other relatives to the U.S. if the petitioner has a listed child sex abuse conviction . If that is the case, then the petition cannot be approved unless the Department of Homeland Security determines in its unreviewable discretion that there is no risk of harm to the beneficiary or derivative beneficiary.
Please call our law firm if you have questions about.Colorado Sex Offender Registration and Federal Law
H. Michael Steinberg has been a Colorado criminal law specialist attorney for 38 years (as of 2012). For the first 13 years of his career, he was an Arapahoe – Douglas County District Attorney Senior prosecutor. In 1999 he formed his own law firm for the defense of Colorado criminal cases.
In addition to handling tens of thousands of cases in the criminal trial courts of Colorado, he has written hundreds of articles regarding the practice of Colorado criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on the Fox News Channel, CNN and Various National and Local Newspapers and Radio Stations. Please call him at your convenience at 720-220-2277.
In the Denver metropolitan area and throughout Colorado, attorney H. Michael Steinberg provides quality legal representation to those charged in Colorado adult and juvenile criminal matters.H. Michael’s Primary Territory
The Colorado Steinberg Criminal Defense Law Firm serves clients charged with criminal offenses in the Denver Metro Region and throughout Colorado, including Adams County, Arapahoe County, Boulder County, Broomfield County, Denver County, Douglas County, Jefferson County, Larimer County, El Paso County, Pueblo County, Weld County and Grand County; and communities such as ; Centennial, Denver, Boulder, Aurora, Lakewood, Littleton, Westminster, Thornton, Northglenn, Brighton, Greenwood Village, DTC, Denver Tech Center, Highlands Ranch, Castle Rock, Lone Tree, Englewood, Golden, Grand Junction and all across the Front Range.
If you have questions about Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer – H. Michael Steinberg in the Denver metropolitan area and throughout Colorado, attorney H. Michael Steinberg will be pleased to answer those questions and will provide quality legal representation to those charged in Colorado with adult and juvenile criminal matters as regards Colorado Sex Offender Registration And Federal Law.