This article explains how to search for a sex offender in your area. Before we explain how to conduct a sex offender search, let’s explain what defines a sex offender.
What is a Sex Offender?
A sex offender is a person who has been criminally charged and convicted of, has pled guilty to, or plead Nolo contendere to a sex crime. Crimes requiring mandatory sex offender registration may include downloading pornographic material of persons under the age of 18, (child pornography), rape, statutory rape and even non-sexual offenses such as kidnapping.
The term sexual offender is a broad term, with sexual predator being used to describe a more severe physical or repeat offenses. They are also sometimes classified into levels, where the highest level offenders have the most aggravating crimes and thus, the most risk to the public and usually must register as a sex offender for their entire lives.
Low level offenders may serve only a probationary sentence and only register for 10 years as well as having less restrictions placed on them compared to higher level offenders. As a label of identity it is used in criminal psychology. Especially in the United States and the United Kingdom, the person, if convicted, is most likely required to register with the respective jurisdiction’s sex offender registry, a county- or statewide database that is often public and accessible to everyone through the internet.
What is a Sexual Predator?
A sexual predator is a person who was designated as a sexually violent predator between July 1, 1996, and June 30, 2006; or a person who is determined by the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board to be at risk of perpetrating any future dangerous offense.
The U.S. Congress passed several laws that require states to implement registries for crimes against children:
- Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act
- Pam Lychner Sexual Offender Tracking and Identification Act
- Megan’s Law
Since Megan’s Law was passed, it is required by law for all offenders to register with their local police department. Unfortunately, budgetary restraints make it impossible for this vital information to be communicated to each parent in every community.
On March 5, 2003, the United States Supreme Court ruled that information about potential predators may be publicly posted on the Internet.
How to Run a Sex Offender Search
The contents of state sex offender registries are public records and you have the right to see them. There are a number of websites that allow you to run a sex offender search. Following are the two that we recommend:
- National Sex Offender Public Website – The National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) provides the public with access to sex offender data nationwide. NSOPW is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Justice and state, territorial, and tribal governments. You can do a quick sex offender search via the main page. However, we recommend going to the state-by-state registry map search state registries.
- Sexual Offenders – Allows citizens to share information they have about criminal offenders, exchange links and post comments in a blog format. The site is updated daily with links to state and county registries, sheriff’s offices and news of sex crimes and related prosecution from around the world.
Use the following books to learn more about how such crimes are solved. Following is a list of some of the best-selling books available at Amazon.com:
- The Sexual Abuse Victim and Sexual Offender Treatment Planner – Learn how victims of the terrible crimes receive the proper medical and psychological treatment after they are abused and how they can be helped to live a normal life. It includes overviews of successful treatment plans for abuse victims.
- Sex Crimes: Patterns and Behavior – Learn about the various patterns and typical behavior exhibited by people who commit sex crimes and abuse. Learning to recognize these patterns and behavior can help detectives piece information together and possibly solve sex crimes. This could be very helpful for a private detective.
- Evaluating Sex Offenders (Practical Aspects of Assessing & Treating)
- Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives – Learn the background behind what leads to such terrible crimes and how they can be recognized and traced back to the killer.
- Preventing Sexual Violence: How Society Should Cope With Sex Offenders (The Law and Public Policy: Psychology and the Social Sciences) – Ideas and suggestions for how society can deal with such crimes and criminals through public policy and the passage of laws.
Find these and other books at Amazon.com.
What do Private Investigators Need to Know?
Private detectives are sometimes involved in cases related to investigating the activity of sexual predators. Since law enforcement may, at times, move at slower speeds due to strict policies and procedures, families may hire a private eye to check out the background of a known sex offender, or to conduct surveillance on a suspicious person in their local area or neighborhood. This is not done to undermine the efforts of local law enforcement, but rather, to have someone who is advocating for the family and augmenting the police work.
Understanding the motivations and drivers of sexual misconduct can help P.I.’s gather information and potentially solve sex-related crimes more effectively. Gaining such experience usually comes through on the job training, but books are a great way to get a basic understanding of what and whom you are dealing with. They can be helpful to learn the various profiles and what motivates people to commit such crimes.
Also, there are several DVDs and Videos available on the topic.
If you have any questions about how to run a sex offender search, please leave a comment below. Visit our Background Checks page to learn more about investigating someone’s history.