KNOW WHO LIVES DOWN THE STREET

KNOW WHO LIVES DOWN THE STREET

PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS

By Frances S. Knox

Significant changes in Sex Offender Laws in this State have been recently made and a new crime has been created.

Specifically, the following changes to Sex Offender Laws have been made:

  • Statutory rape or sexual offense of a person who is 13, 14 or 15 years old where the defendant is at least 6 years older, is now on the list of crimes that qualify as a "sexually violent offense."
  • Registration requirements of sex offenders now requires semiannual verification of registrant information instead of the previously required yearly registration and this verification must now take place in person at the Sheriff Office rather than through the mail;
  • The County Sheriff now has the power to update the registrant's file photographs if they believe the current photograph does not portray an accurate likeness of the sex offender;
  • Registrants must contact their county sheriff if they intend to move to another jurisdiction or spend a significant amount of time in another county due to employment;
  • Registrants must notify their local sheriffs concerning changes in their employment or academic status.

In addition, previous registration requirements terminated registration automatically after ten years. The period of required registration now covers ten years from the date of initial registration, rather than from the date of conviction and the registrant may petition the Superior Court in their district after the ten year period has passed for termination. The registrant must demonstrate in the petition that they have not been arrested for any crime requiring registration and the court must be otherwise satisfied that the registrant is not a current or potential threat to public safety.

NC Law identifies two classes of sex offenders which are:

A sexually violent predator is a second offender and/or habitual criminal or was convicted of an aggravated offense.

A sex offender is someone who has committed an offense involving the physical, mental or sexual abuse of a minor and according to the risk assessment program, "requires the highest possible level of supervision and monitoring.

Registrants who meet the qualifications as described above in N.C.G.S. §14-208.33 (a) (1) or (a)(2), are subject to the satellite based monitoring program.

The continuous satellite based monitoring system will monitor these two categories of offenders. Sexually violent predators are required to submit to the monitoring for the person's natural life unless the requirement is terminated. Individuals classified as (a)(2) sex offenders must submit to monitoring for a period determined by the court. The monitoring system continuously tracks the geographic location of the registrant and reports violations of schedule or location requirements as defined by earlier changes and existing law. A sexually violent predator may file a request for termination of monitoring one year after the offender has served his or her sentence and has complied with any period of parole, probation or post release supervision while the (a)(2) sex offender has no means to petition cessation of the monitoring program.

Residential restrictions for registrants are as follows:

  • they shall not knowingly reside within 1,000 feet of any public or non-public school or child care center;
  • registrants defined as sexual predators are also prohibited from working at any place where a minor is present and where their job responsibilities would include instruction, supervision or care of a minor.

It is unlawful for any person to accept minors into their care or custody from another while knowing that a person who resides at that same location is required to register as a sex offender or sexually violent predator.

In addition, it is now a third-party duty to report a registrant's noncompliance. Withholding information or failing to notify law enforcement regarding a registrant's noncompliance and if known, the whereabouts in addition to harboring, attempting to harbor or assisting another in harboring the offender, concealing the offender is a Class H felony.

The new crime mentioned above that has been created is the crime of sexual servitude which is subjecting one to or maintaining another in sexual servitude. The new law is Human Trafficking. Previously these actions were separated and prosecuted under kidnapping and then the specific sexual offense. Now sexual servitude is a completely distinct crime in and of itself.

With the use of the internet, you can now locate convicted sex offenders in any area of the United States. A popular site is www.familywatchdog.us which provides a map of the location you choose, a photograph of the offender and also it identifies the conviction(s). You may also contact your local county sheriff's office for more information.

Frances Knox has just been elected to Who's Who in American Law for 2007. She is a member of the Board of Governors of North Carolina as a Trial Attorney. You may reach any of our eight attorneys through any of our three offices.