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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.
Links to resources on sex offenses and possible reform are available below:
- 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
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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
- "A Lesson in Due Process on Campus,"
- "Columbia Settles a Complicated Sexual Assault Case,"
- "After 25 Years, It Is Past Time To Reform New York’s Sex Offender Risk Assessment System: Part I,"