When people hear the words “sex offender,” the sex offender registration program comes to mind. Many people have checked their neighborhood to see if any sex offenders live in the area. But, many people don't stop to think about whether or not the sex offender registry really works. Many people are offended when I suggest this: “How dare you question it! The registry is there to protect the public and our children!” I often hear outbursts just like this in Denver, Jefferson, and Arapahoe County. It is important to question the laws of our country. As a skilled sex crimes defense lawyer, I have many clients who would be registered sex offenders if convicted. I know them personally, and they shouldn't be on the registry. Doing so wouldn't protect anyone; instead, it creates a culture of vigilantism and harassment.
What Do You Do with the Information on the Registry?
In 1994, the Jacob Wetterling Act passed, and each state was required to instate and maintain a sex offender registry. The registry collects the names, addresses, and other information about sex offenders, and makes it readily available to the public in Adams, Douglas, and El Paso County. The purpose of the registry is to allow parents to know about “dangerous” people in their neighborhoods. Let me ask a question that might seem obvious, but is worth asking: “How do you protect yourself from sex offenders in your neighborhood?”[pullquote align=”center” textalign=”center” width=”100%”]“How do you protect yourself from sex offenders in your neighborhood?”[/pullquote]
You've looked at the sex offender registry, and you are horrified to learn that a registered sex offender is living across the street from you. How do you protect your family? Yes, you can tell your kids to stay away from that specific neighbor's house. But, you should tell your kids to stay away from every neighbor's house; children need to be watched much closer in this day and age. Other than warn your children, there's not much you can do. Unfortunately, many people are angered by the sex offender living across the street. This leads to vigilantism and harassment. I have seen it first-hand. I live next door to a registered sex offender. One day, I came out my door to find his front door had been trashed and vandalized. There was a big poster with the words: “We know who you are!” written across it. I was horrified, and cleaned up the mess before my neighbor woke up. He didn't deserve such harassment; he and his wife are the nicest folks in the neighborhood.
Sex Offender Registry Leads to Vigilantism
You may not believe me when I say the sex offender registry leads to vigilantism. But, there are many examples of people who were murdered simply because they were on the registry, or were mistaken for someone on the registry:
- Two Men Gunned Down by Vigilante in Washington
- Husband and Wife Team Kill Two: Planned to Kill all on Hit List
- Young Shooter Kills Two in Maine
- Sex Offender's Innocent Wife Killed by Vigilantes in Fire
- Murdered Man Mistaken for Sex Offender
These examples are but a few of many. Vigilantism and harassment of registered sex offenders is a huge problem in our country. While no one deserves to be murdered in the streets, many people don't think killing sex offenders is that bad, because they assume they committed a heinous crime and got off scot-free. What most people don't realize is that with the increase in public outcry over sex offenders, there has been an increase in crimes which result in sex offender registration. Not all registered sex offender committed horrible offenses. Here are two crimes which require sex offender registration:
This crime is charged in many different situations. For example, let's say a man drinks too much at a bar and grabs the butt of the woman he is dancing with. She is angered that he misread the situation, so she calls the police. The man doesn't want to deal with the charges against him, so he pleads guilty and becomes a registered sex offender.
When a person receives two convictions of Public Indecency within a certain amount of time, they must register as a sex offender. For example, let's say a young college student has a habit of staying out late drinking. He pees in public twice, and is convicted twice of Public Indecency. He must now register as a sex offender.
As you can see, these two examples show how a person can be a registered sex offender, even when they have no devious sexual behaviors. In fact, they were simply doing something that many people do. But, people don't realize that the neighbor next door could be a registered sex offender for doing something as innocuous as peeing in public.
Charged with a Sex Offense? Why You Need a Lawyer
Sex offender laws don't protect the public. Instead, they create a culture of vigilantism and fear about registered sex offenders. If you've been charged with a sex crime, don't hesitate to contact an outstanding criminal defense attorney. You need to protect your future by fighting the charges against you. The criminal defense lawyers at our office have over 30 years of combined courtroom experience, and we have a passion for defending the rights of our clients.Request a Free Consultation
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