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Sex offender registration: Missouri considers change in scope of law

The Missouri of Representatives is considering a bill that would mean fewer people would have to register as sex offenders.

The proposal is to divide convicted offenders into three separate tiers. The first tier would be the least severe. After a ten year period, it would be possible for someone to petition for removal of their name. But in the third, most restrictive tier, offenders would remain on the registry for the rest of their lives.

The number of people currently on the Missouri sex offender registry is well over 13,500. Last month, the manger of the registry put the exact number at 13,770. But he estimated that more than 1,100 of these offenders would be eligible to petition for removal of their names if the House bill becomes law.

Missouri is known as one of stricter states in the nation on its sex offender laws. But it stands to reason that the public safety purpose of a sex offender registry is undercut if it is expanded to include too many people whose offenses were far removed from sexual assault or child pornography.

For example, public urination is a crime that arguably has little if anything to do with sex offenses. When states make even those convictions into lifelong sex offender registry cases, the purpose of the registry as a useful public safety tool becomes highly questionable.

It should also be noted that there is also a federal law on sex offender registration requirements. The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) specifies that people convicted of certain crimes provide state governments with information about themselves for inclusion in databases. Even in the Missouri House bill becomes law, Missouri would still be in compliance with SORNA, according to the manger of the Missouri sex offender registry.

Source: "Missouri Bill Would Loosen Sex Offender Registry Requirements," CBS St. Louis, Christine Roto, 2-26-13

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post in the St. Louis area. To learn more about our firm's practice, please visit our page on sex crime defense.

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