One of the most devastating consequences of a sex crime conviction remains in effect long after your case is closed: the requirement to register as a sex offender.
North Carolina maintains a public sex offender database, which allows the public to search the sex offender registry by name and location. Your home and workplace will appear on a map of North Carolina sex offenders.
Even if you’ve moved on with your life and have no intention to re-offend, you’re left with the humiliating stigma of being a registered sex offender. This is socially isolating, and can severely limit housing and employment prospects. We’ve even seen offenders face harassment from their local community.
Fortunately, there are opportunities to petition for removal from the sex offender registry. However, the terms of sex offender deregistration are often complex and confusing.
What you need to know today is who’s eligible and how to go about petitioning for removal from the North Carolina sex offender registry if you are one of the few.
North Carolina Sex Offender Registration Basics
Offenders convicted of the following North Carolina sex crimes will be required to register as sex offenders:
- A sexually violent act; for example, sexual assault or sexual battery
- A sex crime committed against a minor
- An attempt to commit one of these offenses
In most cases, you will be forced to remain on the state’s sex offender registry for 30 years after your conviction. Those falling under the following circumstances, however, are required to register as a sex offender for life:
- Conviction of an aggravated offense
- Conviction for a repeat sex crime offense
- Deemed by the court to be a sexually violent predator
Ultimately, the courts exercise wide discretion over whether a sex crime offender will be required to register as a sex offender, and over how long the offender is required to register.
This discretion is part of the reason that any and all sex crime allegations should be met with proactive and aggressive criminal defense.
A competent North Carolina sex crime attorney may be able to get your charges reduced or dropped, or win you an acquittal if your case goes to trial.
Eligibility for Removal from the NC Sex Offender List
Those required to register for 30 years may be eligible to petition for removal after the 10-year mark post-conviction. You must not have been arrested again for a sex crime that would require sex offender registration during that time.
Anyone required to register as a sex offender for life – you are ineligible for removal.
Even when you meet the above criteria, you are ineligible to petition for removal if your conviction involved any of the following:
- Offenses involving the use of minors in prostitution
- Offenses against minors involving sexual contact
- Offenses involving possession or distribution of child pornography
- Sex trafficking
- Transport of a minor under 18 with the intent to engage in sexual activity
- Coercion and enticement
- Aggravated sexual abuse
- Offenses involving kidnap of a minor
Because these offenses require lifetime sex offender registration in federal courts, offenders convicted of these offenses in North Carolina courts are ineligible to petition for removal, even if they were not required to register for life.
Petitioning North Carolina Courts for Sex Offender Registry Removal
Anyone meeting eligibility requirements may petition for removal from the North Carolina sex offender registry by completing a petition and filing it with the district court where you were originally convicted.
If you were convicted of a sex crime in another state, you will file the petition in the district where you reside.
When the court deems you are eligible to petition for removal, a hearing will be scheduled. Your attorney will present the evidence in support of your petition at that time.
The district attorney will be notified at least three weeks before the hearing and may present evidence in opposition to the petition at that hearing.
Courts often grant the petition when:
- Your record reflects you have not been arrested for any crime that would require sex offender registration since completing your sentence for the original conviction
- The offense does not fall under the exceptional categories listed above
- The court is satisfied that you pose no threat to public safety
If your petition is granted, the court clerk will forward your order for removal to the State Bureau of Investigation, which will remove you from the registry.
If your petition is denied, you are eligible to file a new petition for removal one year after the date of your hearing.
We understand that a successful petition for removal from the sex offender registry can be life-changing for you. If you think that you may qualify, contact your experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney for help filing.