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Realities of the sex offender registry

Law includes many nuances

December 31, 2008
Just because a person is convicted of a sex-related crime doesn't mean the person can't live near a school or park and must follow other regulations typically associated with registered sex offenders. The regulations imposed instead are based on the crime and its legal classification.

For example, sexual misconduct with a minor — sexual behavior between a person at least age 18 and a child who is 14 or 15 — doesn't involve the harsher restrictions unless outlined as a condition of probation. Instead, the stricter requirements usually are reserved for a person determined to be a sexually violent offender.

"You can be required to register as a sexual offender for a number of sexual crimes, but you may not be a sexual predator," Crawford County Prosecutor Cheryl Hillenburg said.

Sexually violent predators, in part, can be adults convicted of sex crimes like rape, criminal deviate conduct, child molesting and vicarious sexual gratification, fondling in the presence of a minor, when using or threatening deadly force or being armed with a deadly weapon, among other things.

Persons convicted of such crimes or who have been determined likely to repeat a sex-related offense often receive the harsher restrictions, such as when they must register, how long they must be registered and whether they can live within 1,000 feet of a school, youth program or public park and work in a place with children, such as a school.

Depending on the crime and probation terms, some sex or violent offenders must register for as little as 10 years while others must remain on the registry for life. Some registered sex offenders must verify their address every 90 days, but others must do so only once a year. In addition, some offenders must notify law enforcement when leaving their address for more than 72 hours.

The public can go online to the Indiana Sheriffs' Sex and Violent Offender Registry at www.insor.org/insasoweb/ to see a list of registered sex or violent offenders who live or work in any part of Indiana. The site doesn't list what legal requirements have been placed on the offenders.

Those requirements, Hillenburg admitted, can be confusing, even to those dealing with such cases on a semi-routine basis because the laws are complex. The requirements imposed on sex and violent offenders, however, are public record and can be discovered by calling the sheriff's department, which maintains a file on sex offenders living or working in the county, she said. The probation department in the county where the offender was convicted or in which they are supervised might also be of help in learning the restrictions on a specific offender, she added.

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