NACDL recognizes that sex offenses cause great pain and suffering to victims and their families. However, society’s outrage and condemnation should not impair the need to make criminal justice policy decisions based upon facts, sound scientific research, and evidence.
NACDL opposes sex offender registration and community notification laws but also believes that if such laws are enacted they should classify offenders with full due process of law. Determination of offender risk must also allow for reasonable opportunities to seek relief from registration.
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 State Legislation
- Priority Federal 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.
Federal Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification
National Conference on State Legislatures (NCSL) – overview of state compliance & other resources
Cross-Examination Trial Pack
NACDL’s new Cross-Examination Trial Pack includes three of our best-selling Cross-Examination resources: “Damage Control: Situational Cross-Examination Techniques Trial Guide”, "Ultimate Cross 2.0: Audio Recordings & Written Materials" and "Sample Cross-Examination Questions."
This masterful collection of cross-examination resources provide countless tips, techniques and strategies for a variety of criminal case-specific scenarios. Learn to cross-examine a variety of trial witnesses!
Death Investigation: Forensic Pathology in the Courtroom and Cause & Manner of Death (2022)
This unique program provides criminal defense lawyers with an accurate and clear overview of forensic pathology and the countless factors to consider in a death investigation and will methodically explain what happens during an autopsy to determine cause and manner of death.
You'll uncover the different types of medicolegal death investigations, what to request from your MDI expert, quality benchmarks for accreditation and certification, guidelines and standards, common terminology and frequently asked questions.
The Psychology of Persuasion & Storytelling for Criminal Defense Lawyers
This Trial Resource Guide is a masterful collection of practical tips, techniques and strategies focused solely on using the arts and sciences of persuasion to improve your storytelling skills at trial.
You'll learn how to master the ability to communicate with juries, deliver powerful openings and closings, perform convincing cross-examinations, use effective courtroom choreography and non-verbal communication, identify and develop the optimal theme and theory for your case, and offer compelling arguments during mitigation and sentencing.
Zealous Advocacy in Sexual Assault & Child Victims Cases (2022)
Defending charges of sexual assault and child abuse can be daunting — but with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be.
Every year, NACDL identifies the hottest topics and most pressing issues when defending these cases, and brings-in nationally-renowned lawyers and experts to help you prepare for battle. This year’s 13th Annual Defending Sex Cases training program is our best yet; packed with topics and speakers you won’t want to miss!
Get to Know the Sexual Assault Examiner in the Client’s Case
It is crucial for a defense attorney to know the background and training of the forensic nurse examiner involved in the client’s case. A forensic nurse’s initial education does not include training on how to give an expert opinion related to his or her objective findings. Through continuing education and board certification, however, it is possible for a forensic nurse to be considered an expert.
Sex Offender Registry and Notification: How Did We Get Here?
The goal of trying to put an end to child sex offenses is one on which everyone can agree. The best way to meet that goal, however, is debatable. Individuals that children know are responsible for 90% of sex crimes against them. Alix Deschamp discusses the origins of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act and shows how the original legislation developed into not only a law enforcement tool but also a punitive measure.
Forensic Interview Protocols in Child Sex Abuse Cases
Cases alleging child sex abuse often hinge on the forensic interview of the alleged victim, and thus the forensic interview should be the first place defense counsel looks. In this article, a forensic psychologist and a criminal defense lawyer discuss the forensic interview and how failure to follow best practices may encourage false allegations and elicit misinformation.
News of Interest
- "Seventh Circuit revisits controversial Indiana sex offender law,"
- "How Georgia’s Sex Offender Registry Traps People In Debt And Homelessness,"
- "Why Is Texas Requiring a Guy Who Stole a Car To Register as a Sex Offender?,"