Sex Offender Registration

Aside from the painful social stigma that accompanies a plea or a guilty finding for any sexually-oriented offense, the fear and humiliation of the sex offender registration law in Ohio is greatly misunderstood by many men, women and even children being investigated or charged with a sex crime – rape, gross sexual imposition, importuning, producing and/or possessing child pornography

  1. Ohio Sex Offender Registration Laws

Ohio’s Sex Offender Registration & Notification Law (SORN Law), is governed by Ohio Revised Code Title 29 Chapter 2950.

Ohio implements an offense-based registry. This means convictions for certain sex offenses can land a person on the registry, regardless whether an individual is low-risk or high-risk to reoffend.

Ohio’s sex offender registry currently has more than 20,000 listed offenders who have been convicted of various levels of sex crimes, including sexually oriented offenses, and crimes committed by individuals deemed habitual sex offenders, sexual predators, and sexually violent predators. All of these categories carry different consequences that an individual needs to understand and discuss with his or her attorney about.

By law, individuals convicted of qualifying sex crimes are required to provide their local sheriff’s office with personal information to be made publically accessible though the eSORN database, including information regarding their:

  • Home address;
  • Work address;
  • Identifying characteristics;
  • Criminal history;
  • Photo / fingerprints; and
  • Vehicle information

Additionally, the law requires the collection of other information from registrants – including phone numbers, e-mail accounts, and online screen names / handles – which are not made public.

Information entered into the registry by any of Ohio’s 88 County Sheriff offices can be looked up online through Ohio.gov’s sex offender search tool.

A little-known fact about the eSORN registry, a user may also use a reverse lookup feature where they can input phone numbers, e-mails, and internet screen names into a database to determine if they belong to a registered offender.

Although the feature won’t reveal an offender’s identity, it will alert the person who performed the search to contact local law enforcement.

  1. Community Notification Requirements

In addition to information made public or retained through the database, Ohio law subjects registered Tier 3 offenders or those deemed Sexual Predators to a number of community-notification requirements. Some of these include:

  • Neighbor Notification – Once offenders are newly registered, their information will be dispersed via Sheriff’s notices to all residential neighbors within 1,000 feet of the offender’s residence;

  • Neighbor Notification (Multi-Unit Building) – If an offender lives in a multi-unit building (such as an apartment or condominium complex), notices are made to the building manager and occupants of units which share common hallway with the offender (or anyone on the same floor if an entrance door opens into a shared space), within 1,000 feet of the offender’s residence.
  • Community Notification – Notices may also be sent to additional parties in an offender’s jurisdiction, including officials from public children services agencies, school districts, schools and child / day-care centers, and colleges / higher education institutions.
  • Change of Residence – Registered offenders must report changes of residence or employment, as well as notices of intent to reside in new geographical areas.
  1. Ohio Crimes that Require Sex Offender Registration

ORC 2950 has been heavily revised throughout the years to more closely align with federal standards. The most recent changes came in March 2019, when Ohio House Bill 92 (HB 92) went into effect.

The revised 2019 Ohio sex offender registration laws include amendments which add new crimes to the list (such as public indecency for sexual gratification if minors are likely to witness), and which make adjustments to classification Tiers.

Whether you or a loved one will be required to register as a sex offender in Ohio will depend on the unique facts of your case, as well as your defense. Even though Ohio implements a harsh offense-based registry system, there may be options for avoiding or mitigating registration in some cases.

Generally, Ohio’s registry categorizes offenders into 3 Tiers which include crimes that range in severity. For instance:

Tier 1:

  • 2907.04 Unlawful Sexual Conduct; (If offender is less than 4 years older than the other person, and no consent);
  • 2907.05/.06 Gross Sexual Imposition / Sexual Imposition
  • 2907.07 Importuning
  • 2907.08 Voyeurism
  • 2907.22 Promoting Prostitution
  • 2907.32 Pandering
  • 2907.323(A)(3)/(4) Illegal Use of Minor in Nudity-Oriented Material
  • 2903.211(A)(3) Menacing by Stalking
  • 2907.09(B)(4) Public Indecency In Front of Minor

Tier 2:

  • 2907.21 Compelling Prostitution
  • 2907.321 Pandering Involving a Minor
  • 2907.323(A)(1)/(2) Child Pornography (Minor in Nudity-Oriented Performance)
  • 2907.04 Unlawful Sexual Conduct
  • 2907.05(A)(4) Gross Sexual Imposition victim under 13
  • 2905.01/02(B) Kidnapping / Abduction
  • 2905.32 Human Trafficking
  • Any sex crime occurring after an offender has been classified as Tier 1.

Tier 3:

  • 2907.02 Rape
  • 2907.03 Sexual Battery
  • 2907.05(B) Gross Sexual Imposition victim under 12 with, intent to abuse or harm
  • 2903.11 Felonious Assault with Sexual Motivation
  • 2905.01(A)(4) Kidnapping victim under age 18
  • 2903.01/02/03(B) Aggravated Murder, Murder, or Voluntary Manslaughter with Sexual Motivation
  • 2971.03 Sexually Violent Predator classification

This Tier system is derived from the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which implemented new national standards for offense-based sex offender classification. In 2007, a year after the Adam Walsh was passed, Ohio enacted the standards, and repealed those implemented under the hotly debated Megan’s Law.

  1. Length of Sex Offender Classifications on the Registry

The length of registration is dependent upon an offender’s classification.

  • Tier 3: Lifetime registration (every 90 days)
  • Tier 2: 25 years’ registration (every 180 days)
  • Tier 1: 15 years’ registration (annually), or 10 years in certain cases

As one of the most restrictive and profound repercussions of a sex crime conviction, individuals facing sex offender registration may wish to explore their rights for reducing the duration of required registration, reducing their underlying charges so as to reduce the amount of time they must register, or avoiding sex offender registration altogether.

Immediate action and assistance from experienced lawyers upon any sex crime investigation or indictment is critical to pursuing these types of outcomes.

Failure to register is a 5th degree felony (if the underlying offense is a felony) or a 1st degree misdemeanor in Ohio.

  1. Under Investigation or Charged With a Crime? Call Eyer Stone, Ltd.

Sex crimes are among the most aggressively penalized offenses in our criminal justice system, and they pose potential for considerable prison time and lengthy or lifelong terms of sex offender registration.

Additionally, offenders and those who have not yet been convicted must contend with harsh social stigmas that can permeate entire cases, as well as the perceptions of law enforcement, prosecutors, and communities who favor harsh draconian approaches over reasonable discretion or logical discussion about the efficacy of our sex crime laws or sex offender registration protocols.

Even while people facing sex crime investigations or charges find themselves in difficult, high-stakes situations, they still have the right to legal representation when fighting the government’s allegations against them. Choosing the right attorneys can make all the difference.

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