This article explains how to search for sex offenders in your area. Before we explain how to search, let me explain what the term means.
What is a Sex Offender?
A sex offender is a person who has been criminally charged and convicted of, has pled guilty to, or pleaded Nolo contendere to a sex crime. Crimes requiring mandatory sex offender registration may include downloading pornographic material of persons under 18 (child pornography), rape, and statutory rape. Also, it may even include non-sexual offenses such as kidnapping.
The term sexual offender is a broad term that describes more severe physical or repeat offenses. They are also sometimes classified into different levels. For example, the highest-level offenders commit the most severe crimes and, thus, pose the most risk to the public. Usually, they must register as an offender for their entire lives.
However, low-level offenders may serve only a probationary sentence, only register for ten years, and have fewer restrictions than higher-level offenders. Especially in the United States and the United Kingdom, the person, if convicted, must register with the respective jurisdiction’s 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 is a sexually violent predator between July 1, 1996, and June 30, 2006, or a person who the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board determines 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
Megan’s Law requires all offenders to register with their local police department. Unfortunately, budgetary restraints make it impossible to communicate this vital information 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 registries are public records, and you have the right to see them. Several websites allow you to run an online search. The following are the two that we recommend:
- National Sex Offender Public Website – 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 online sex offender search via the main page. However, we recommend going to the state-by-state registry map to search state registries.
- Sexual Offenders – This allows citizens to share information about criminal offenders, exchange links, and post comments in a blog format. The site has links to state and county registries, sheriff’s offices, and news of sex crimes and prosecutions worldwide.
In most states, sex offenders must always stay at least 1000 feet from a school, daycare, playground, or park. There is an app called Sex Offender Mobile App called SOZones to help offenders stay out of safety zones, stay out of jail, and help keep the community safe.
Use the following books to learn more about how to run a sex offender search, the motivation behind the crimes, and how law enforcement solves the case. Following is a list of some of the best-selling books available at Amazon.com:
- Treatment Planner – Learn how victims of terrible crimes receive the proper medical and psychological treatment after abuse and how they can live everyday 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. Recognizing these patterns and behavior can help detectives piece information together and possibly solve the crimes. This could be very helpful for a private detective.
- Evaluating Offenders (Practical Aspects of Assessing & Treating)
- Homicide: Patterns and Motives – Learn the background behind what leads to such terrible crimes and how investigators trace them 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. Of course, 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 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. Instead, the purpose is to have someone advocating for the family and augmenting the police work.
Understanding the motivations and drivers of their misconduct can help P.I.s gather information and potentially solve these crimes more effectively. Gaining such experience usually comes through on-the-job training, but books are a great way to understand what and whom you are dealing with. They can help 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.