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Is a sex offender the same as a sexual predator?

People who are convicted of crimes stemming from sexual misconduct can often get lumped into one category by members of the public: dangerous people who prey on young children. However, the fact is that not every case leading to conviction involves children or a person who is a serious threat to others.

For example, a 24-year-old can be required to register as a sex offender if he had consensual sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend, as she is considered a minor and the age discrepancy makes sexual activity unlawful. Despite the fact that there was no violence or young child involved, that 24-year-old man can be seen as a person who committed a far worse offense. However, it is important to understand that there is a difference between a sexual offender and a sexual predator.

A sex offender is anyone who is convicted or pleads guilty (or no contest) to a sex offense. He or she may not necessarily present a threat to others and may have committed a single, non-violent offense.

A sexual predator, on the other hand, is someone who has been convicted of repeat sexual offenses, has used physical violence, who preys on children or is considered to be "an extreme threat to public safety."

Sex offenders and predators are both required to register with the state, and while there is a distinction made between the two types of offenders, many people fail to understand that there is a difference between an offender and a predator.

It should be reiterated that whether a person is convicted as a sexual offender or predator, the consequences will be severe. From jail time and registering with the state to a destroyed reputation and career prospects, a person's life will never be the same. However, you can work to avoid a conviction or seek reduced charges or penalties in the first place to protect yourself and your future. Discussing your options with a criminal defense attorney will be crucial.

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