State and federal sex offender registries were supposedly created to protect members of the public from people who have committed a sex crime and could pose a threat to members of a community even after fulfilling the obligations of a criminal sentence. Under the requirements of sex offender registration, information about an offender's residence and offense are made available to the public to promote awareness and keep people safe.
However, over the years, more and more offenses have resulted in a court's order to register as a sex offender. This is true even if there is no apparent victim.
As this Business Insider article explores, there are a number of reasons a person can be labeled as and have to register as a sex offender even when there is no one who is claiming to be the victim of a sex crime.
- Minor status: In this day and age, it is easier than ever to send and receive pictures and sexually-related text messages. However, if a teen willingly sends a naked picture of himself or herself to someone -- like a boyfriend or girlfriend -- it could be considered child pornography. Any person who sent, received or shared the image could face criminal penalties, including the requirement to register as a sex offender.
- Exposure of certain body parts: People who reveal certain parts of their body in public can be required to register. This is true even if a person just urinated in public or briefly exposed her breasts. There often are no complaining victims in these situations, but it could still be considered indecent exposure.
- Consensual sex: Having sex with someone is typically not considered a crime. However, if one or both people having sex are related or underage, it can be considered a criminal offense regardless of whether the sex is consensual or not.
Depending on the state in which these acts occurred, these offenses can land a person on the same list of offenders as people who have committed serious, violent crimes. Members of the public don't typically appreciate this fact and may consider a person who made a mistake as a teen to be as dangerous as a person convicted of rape.
Avoiding a conviction and the requirement to register can be essential, particularly if you are facing charges like the ones mentioned above.