If you are accused of committing a sexual crime in Connecticut, you may wonder if you will be required to register as a sex offender and what that would entail. Sex offender registries were established when Congress passed the Jacob Wetterling Crimes against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act in 1994, but the information they contained was initially only accessible by law enforcement.
That changed in 1996 with the passage of Megan’s Law, which required information about convicted sex offenders to be made available to the public. Connecticut established its sex offender registry in 1998. The rules regarding sex offender registration can be found in General Statute Section 54-280.
Who Has to Register and for How Long?
Connecticut law requires individuals who have been convicted of three types of sexual offenses to register. Individuals found not guilty of these crimes due to a mental defect or disease are also required to register.
There are also situations where judges can order individuals convicted of other crimes to register as sex offenders. The length of time that an offender remains on the registry is based on the severity of the crime they committed and their criminal record. Offenders are only required to register after their cases have been adjudicated and they have been released from custody. The sex offender categories in Connecticut are:
- Offenses against minors: First offenses require registration for 10 years. Individuals convicted for a second time remain on the registry for life.
- Nonviolent sexual offenses: Individuals convicted of nonviolent sexual offenses are generally required to register for a period of 10 years. They are placed on the registry for life if they are convicted a second time.
- Violent sexual offenses: Individuals convicted of violent sex crimes remain on the registry for life even if they have no prior criminal record.
- Other felony offenses: Judges can order individuals who are convicted of other felonies to register as sex offenders for a period of 10 years if they determine that their crime was sexually motivated.
The Registration Process
Individuals who are required to register as sex offenders in Connecticut must do so within five business days of being released from custody. Failure to register is a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Individuals who are convicted of sexual offenses in other states are required to register as sex offenders if they move to Connecticut. The registry is maintained by the Department of Emergency Services and Public Safety, which is a division of the Connecticut State Police. Individuals are required to provide the following information when they register and update it if their situations change:
- Their name.
- Their address.
- Their email address.
- Online identifiers they use like social media handles and user names.
- The date of their conviction.
- The sex crime they were convicted of committing.
- The amount of time they spent in prison for that crime.
- A tissue sample for DNA analysis.
- Their fingerprints.
Who Has Access to the Sex Offender Registry?
Megan’s Law requires the information contained in state sex offender registries to be available to members of the public. In Connecticut, the public can view this information by registering on the DESPP website and searching an online database, or visiting a state police facility.
There are also independent websites that provide this information. The rules dealing with the sex offender registry were revised in 2009 to require the DESPP to notify school superintendents when sex offenders move into their communities.
Proposed Changes to Connecticut’s Sex Offender Law
In 2019, a bill was advanced by the Senate Judiciary Committee that would allow certain offenders who do not pose a significant threat to the community to be removed from the sex offender registry. The bill has received bipartisan support because it reduces the consequences of being convicted of a minor sexual offense, and proponents say it allows law enforcement to allocate its resources more effectively.
If the bill is passed, offenders could be removed from the registry if their parole or probation officers do not feel they are likely to re-offend. The bill would also separate the database into registries for low and high-risk offenders and restrict access to the low-risk registry to law enforcement. Supporters of the proposed legislation say its passage would create a registry that is based on risks to the community rather than offenses.
Trust in the Experience of a Proven Connecticut Sex Crimes Defense Attorney
Being placed on the sex offender registry can make it difficult to secure a job or find a place to live, and judges do not have the authority to release offenders from their obligation to register. This is why it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney before pleading guilty to a sexual offense in Connecticut.
The Moynahan Law Firm in Waterbury, CT has been advocating on behalf of individuals accused of committing sex crimes for four decades, and we defend these cases aggressively. If you would like to discuss these matters more fully, you can schedule a free consultation by calling (203) 597-6364 or filling out our online contact form.