Sex offenders, especially those who commit acts against children, are often seen as the lowest kind of criminal. They are targeted for life, rarely getting the chance to put the past in the past and move on.
Most states in the United States – North Carolina included – look down on sex offenders and have strict consequences and severe penalties for anyone convicted of these crimes. Even after someone has “done their time” in prison, we then require them to register as a sex offender and continue with that label in perpetuity.
Being on the sex offender registry can have devastating consequences for all aspects of your life. You may be forced from your home, your job, your family and friends, and anyone or anywhere that may offer you support in order to get through this trying time.
On top of that, your conviction and your subsequent sex offender registration carry a life-long stigma. Despite studies indicating that only one out of four sex offenders reoffend, the law and the public at large will always look at you as a sex offender, no matter how much you try to change your life.
So let’s see how being on the North Carolina sex offender registry will impact your life.
1. You will have to register for at least 30 years – and sometimes for life. From the date of your first registration, you will have to continually register as a sex offender for at least 30 years, if not longer. The only way you will be able to reduce your registration time is if you successfully petition the court. But you are only able to petition the court after you’ve been registering for 10 years.
If you have been convicted of an aggravated offense, a repeated offense, or you are determined to be a sexually violent predator, then you will have to be on the registry for life, as well as verify your address every 90 days. Unless your sentence is reversed or you are pardoned, you will not be able to petition for a shorter registration period.
2. You are prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of a school or childcare facility. It doesn’t matter if you already have a perfectly good home. If your home is located within 1,000 feet of any school (excluding home schools) or any childcare facility with children under 13 years old, you have to find a new residence. This is especially problematic, because finding a different living situation could be hindered by your conviction and your sex offender registration.
3. If you are a parent, though, you are allowed to attend your child’s school for certain reasons. Despite not being allowed near schools generally, you are allowed to attend your child’s school for very specific reasons – but only after you alert the principal that you are a registered sex offender. You are allowed to be on school grounds if:
- You are going to a conference to discuss your child’s academic or social progress.
- You have been asked to come to the school to discuss your child’s welfare or transportation.
When you do go to school under these conditions, you will have to give the school advance notice and you will be directly supervised for the duration of your visit.
4. You are prohibited from obtaining or renewing certain licenses and credentials. Finding a job is difficult enough, but throw in a conviction and a sex offender registration and it can be nearly impossible. Certain jobs are automatically eliminated due to minors being present, and other jobs are also ruled out under the registration guidelines:
- You are unable to get or renew a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with a P or S endorsement – P is for a passenger commercial vehicle and S is for school buses. And if you already have a CDL with those endorsements, it will be revoked.
- You won’t be able to get or renew your EMS credentials.
- And if you were convicted of certain specified sex offenses, you won’t be able to get or renew a funeral license.
5. You are prohibited from using “commercial social networking Web sites.” In today’s world, we use the internet and social networking sites on a regular basis. It’s how we communicate and keep in touch with family and friends. If you have to register as a sex offender, however, you are banned from using sites like Facebook, Twitter, or even local news sites that allow you to make a profile and communicate with other users by message board, chat room, email, or instant messenger. This is especially restricting and limiting because of how much of our lives now revolve around the internet and social sites.
It’s not easy getting your life back together after a criminal conviction, and having to register as a sex offender doesn’t help. It can be extremely difficult to keep all aspects of registration straight. So if you have questions about the sex offender registry, contact a knowledgeable North Carolina criminal defense attorney who can give you the answers and the help you need.
About the Author:
Attorney Mike Schlosser represents victims of personal injury, those charged with a crime, as well as those facing traffic charges. A former Guilford County, North Carolina District Attorney, Schlosser has been in private practice at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett since 1983 and has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar since 1973.