If you commit certain sex offenses in Arizona, the consequences of a conviction could last for the rest of your life. The Arizona sex offender registration requirements began with the state began in 1996 when Arizona enacted laws creating a community notification system to keep residents safe by keeping track of offenders after they were released into the community.
Speaking to a criminal defense attorney before pleading guilty to sex crimes charges is important because even relatively minor offenses can leave you facing a lifetime designation as a sex offender. You must register your current address every year and, depending upon which of the three levels of sex offender is assigned to you, your neighbors might be notified about your criminal past.
Sex offenses leading to registration
The list of criminal offenses that may impose the requirement upon you of registering as a sex offender is extensive. Some of the offenses that require registration as a sex offender include:
- Unlawful imprisonment of a victim less than 18 years of age committed by someone other than the victim’s parent
- Kidnapping if the victim is less than 18 years of age and the person committing the crime is not the victim’s parent
- Sexual abuse of a child less than 18 years of age
- Sexual assault
- Sexual conduct with a minor
- Second offense of indecent exposure directed at a child less than 15 years of age
- Third or subsequent indecent exposure violation
Judges are given discretion to require registration for crimes besides the charges listed under the sex offender registration law. A judge may order an adult to register as a sex offender if the crime you are convicted of committing involves a sexual motivation.
A juvenile offender who is adjudicated as a juvenile delinquent for committing an act that, if committed by an adult, would be on the list of offenses requiring registration may be ordered to register as a sex offender. Juveniles ordered to register are only required to do so until they are 25 years of age.
Courts have discretion to end the registration requirement upon the individual’s successful completion of a sentence of probation. Termination by court order is limited to those situations in which the offender was less than 18 years of age when the offense was committed.
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Risk level assessment screenings
All sex offenders must undergo a risk level assessment to determine the risk they pose to the community of committing future sexually motivated crimes. The three levels and the requirement of each are as follows:
- Level 3: Offenders in this group are at the highest risk of becoming repeat offenders. Police must notify residents of the surrounding neighborhoods near where the offender resides that a sex offender is living in the area. Flyers that include the offender’s name, address, photograph and a summary of the individual’s criminal record are distributed door to door to residences, schools and community groups. Press releases are also issued to local television stations and newspapers. A notice is also given to the offender’s employer.
- Level 2: This group is at risk to re-offend, but its members are not as high risk as level 3. Police will notify only homes and residences in the offender’s immediate neighborhood, schools, community groups and the offender’s employer. A press release is not a requirement for level 2 offenders.
- Level 1: This is the lowest risk group. Police are only required maintain a record of the offender, and notice is only given to those living in the same home as the offender.
The assessment is performed by the local sheriff’s department when the offender reports to register. If the offender is coming out of jail or prison, the assessment might be completed by corrections personnel before the person is released.
Level 3 and level 2 offenders are listed by name and address in a database maintained by the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The database may be accessed by the general public through the department’s website.
A sex offender has just 10 days after being released from jail or prison to register with the sheriff’s office in the county in which the offender resides. The information provided to the sheriff is sent to the police department in the city in which the offender lives. Offenders must update their registration information each year with the county sheriff’s department. Updated information must also be provided within 72 hours of a move to a new residence.
Homeless people are not exempt from the registration requirements imposed on sex offenders. Someone who does not have a permanent residence address must register every three months with the sheriff’s department. Instead of a traditional house number and street, a homeless person must provide a description of the physical location at which they are living even if it is an empty lot or a bench.
Sex offenders from other states who visit Arizona must register with the county sheriff if they will be in the state for more than 10 days. Failure to comply with any of the registration requirements is a felony under state law.
Related consequences of having to register as a sex offender
Arizona sex offenders, regardless of their risk level, must exchange their driver’s license for special one that is only issued to sex offenders. Although it is identical in appearance to a regular license, a police check of its status will disclose that the license holder is a registered sex offender.
The special licenses are renewable each year. At the time of renewal, the license holder must have a new identification picture taken and must provide a current residence address. Failure to obtain or update the special license is a criminal offense punishable as a felony.
A Phoenix criminal defense attorney might be of assistance
Conviction of a crime requiring sex offender registration will have long-term consequences on your personal life and on your career. The notification requirements alone can get you fired from your job and negatively affect personal relationships with friends and family members.
Before you think about pleading guilty to a sex crime, talk to the criminal defense attorneys at the Phoenix offices of the Tyler Allen Law Firm. Their knowledge of the law and experience defending people charged with committing sex offenses may allow them to offer you options that you had no previously considered. Call (602) 456-0545 for a free consultation.