Determination of offender risk must be based upon the individual characteristics of the offender and not solely on the offense for which the offender was convicted, and there must be reasonable opportunities to seek relief from registration. Restrictions and collateral consequences on sex offenders are too often the result of knee-jerk politics rather than careful consideration of the efficacy, appropriate scope and potential negative consequences. Because of the severe penalties and other life-altering consequences, sex offenses should be narrowly tailored and contain meaningful intent requirements.
Resources on sex offenses and possible reform:
- NACDL's comments to the American Law Institute on its Model Penal Code project addressing sex offender registries and other collateral consequences (January 2021)
- NACDL's position on ABA Resolution 114, taken up at the August 2019 annual meeting of its House of Delegates (August 2019)
- NACDL's Policy Statement on Sex Offender Registries (February 2007)
- Pending Legislation
Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, Public Law 109–248 (federal sex offender law intended to standardize various aspects of state sex offender laws; imposes 10% cut in federal law enforcement grants for states failing to substantially comply with sex offender registration provisions by the deadline)
"The Scarlet Letter of the Law: The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006," The Champion, Nov. 2006.
In 2012, the House of Representatives passed legislation to reauthorize the Adam Walsh Act but at the same time ameliorate the draconian registration requirements for juvenile sex offenders. The reauthorization bill would give states the discretion to exclude juveniles from public sex offender registries and would reduce the time juvenile offenders must remain on the SORNA registry, from 25 years to 15 years, before being permitted to petition the court for removal. The bill also requires a study of the impact of juvenile sex offender registration. The Senate did not take up the measure in 2012, but legislative action is likely this year.
Congress passed the Child Protection Act of 2012, Public Law 112–206, in late 2012. Among other things, the law doubles the statutory maximum penalty from 10 to 20 years for simple possession of child pornography where the material depicts a prepubescent minor.
National Conference on State Legislatures (NCSL) – overview of state compliance & other resources
Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence: A Trial Strategy Guide
NACDL’s Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence will assist criminal defense practitioners in scoring points when cross-examining forensic experts in cases involving DNA and biological evidence. This resource contains thousands of questions that will help defense lawyers cross-examine challenging witnesses without reinventing the wheel with each new case. It includes pattern questions that can be used to dominate prosecution DNA experts and level the playing field at trial.
Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions (2nd Ed.) By James M. Shellow
Now in its second edition with some new material, James M. Shellow’s book offers what its title promises: ways of thinking about cross-examining the forensic analysts in drug cases. But the book is so much more than that. It offers a look inside the mind of one of the finest cross-examiners and defense lawyers the United States has produced in the last seventy years. This small book can inspire and direct you in making big changes in the way you defend your clients and think about the entire project of trying any case.
Justice For All, Justice Now White T-Shirt (Women’s)
This custom, vintage-faded NACDL t-shirt is 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon weighing 5.2 oz. and is lightwieght, flexible and soft, providing maximum comfort. It features the "Justice For All, Justice Now" slogan and Lady Liberty image on the front, with the NACDL logo on the back. Currently available in both men's and women's sizes in both black and white colors. View the full line-up of colors and sizes on our online store, as well as our other popular and best-selling t-shirt designs at: nacdl.org/store.
Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection - CD-ROM
NACDL’s Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection is the sweeping culmination of every single article of written materials ever published from each installment of NACDL's annual "Defending Modern Drug Cases" seminar. Totaling over 12,000 pages, this vast collection includes 12+ years of motions, briefs, reports, outlines, transcripts, case citations, scholarly articles, powerpoints and other written commentaries. This collection provides trial strategies and tactics you can immediately apply to your current cases.
Mental Illness & the Law: Addressing and Litigating Behavioral Health Disorders in Criminal Cases
Whether it is insanity, impairment, a disorder, or adolescent brain development; mental health and intellectual competence issues affect pretrial supervision, trial and sentencing, and your chances of successfully advocating for your impaired client. This training provides ideas and proven solutions to assist you in advocating for your client during trial, whether it be insanity defenses, jury selection, cross of expert witnesses, persuasion, or mitigation at sentencing.
- From the President: Unleashing the Power of NACDL and Our Affiliates
Defending Sexual Assault Allegations by Children - Using Forensic Interview Protocols to Your Advant
The goal of forensic interviewing is to ensure that statements from a child accuser are obtained in an unbiased manner. Social scientists have performed experiments to pinpoint how to minimize child suggestibility. To attack a forensic interview, defense lawyers should do the following: (1) become familiar with the jurisdiction’s protocols for forensic interviews, (2) examine statutes and rules regarding protocols and admissibility of child witness statements, (3) engage an expert and identify places where the protocols were not followed, (4) move to suppress when the protocols were not followed, and (5) decide how to highlight the failure of the forensic interviewer.
Preparing a Client for a Psychosexual Evaluation
A psychosexual evaluation (PSE) is an important tool in the resolution of many sexual misconduct cases. A PSE is an empirically informed assessment of a client’s sexual development, sexual history, paraphilic or deviant interests, and risk of becoming a repeat offender. The evaluation should identify any treatment needs and propose a treatment plan. The evaluation also can pose risks of new criminal charges, however, and thus can negatively affect the outcome of a case. Knowing what the client will disclose enables the attorney to advise the client whether to go forward with the evaluation, refuse the evaluation, or refuse to answer certain questions. The conversations necessary to prepare a client for a PSE are not easy or quick or pleasant, but they are essential to effective representation.
News of Interest
- "Fourth Circuit hears arguments over Virginia’s sex offender registry,"
- "Colorado’s Sex Offender Laws Create ‘Endless Punishment’: Critics,"
- "Opinion: Here’s why college guys commit sexual assaults they don’t realize are assaults,"