Maryland's Sex Offender Registry - Who Registers and How to Be Removed

Sex offender registration is in addition to prison and jail time served for a sexual crime. This is what you need to know about sex offender registration in Maryland:

  • Sex Offender Registry, how the state keeps the public informed;
  • Sex offense convictions usually mean a requirement to register; And
  • How to be removed from the list, five ways it can happen.

What is Sex Offender Registration?

Registration as a sex offender in Maryland is set up to keep the public informed about the whereabouts of people convicted of sex offenses. The Maryland Sex Offender Registry is a public and searchable database that holds personal information about those convicted.

The database helps to protect kids and adults from people with a history of sexual offenses or crimes against children. The US Congress established the "Wetterling Act" in 1994, which required states to create registries of sexual offenders. These registries hold the name, address, email usernames, screen names, and more of the convicted.

Maryland quickly followed suit and started its sex offender registry in 1995. Over the years, the laws have been amended to reflect the changes to the federal legislation and regulations.

The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services created the Sex Offender Registry Unit to maintain the registry, circulate information, and promote public education and awareness in Maryland. Anyone can search the database to find where sex offenders live and work in their community.    

Registration on the sex offender list impacts all facets of an offender's life as it hinders where they can live, work, or even go. It is an aspect of sentencing many want to avoid, so who HAS to register in Maryland.

Sex Offense Convictions Almost Always Guarantee Registration

Anyone convicted of a sex offense in Maryland must enroll in the Sex Offender Registry. A crime conviction means a person was found guilty through a trial, entered a guilty or no contest plea, was awarded probation before judgment after conviction, or was found not criminally responsible.

In other words, if someone is convicted of a sex crime, they are likely to end up on the Sex Offender Registry list. Precisely where placed on the registry depends on the actual offense itself. Maryland breaks the registry down into three tiers:

  • Tier I – Offenders convicted of a 4th-degree sex offense, possession of child pornography, or "Peeping Toms" are placed in this tier.
  • Tier II – Those convicted on charges including, but not limited to, distributing or manufacturing child pornography, sexual solicitation of a minor, or human trafficking end up in this tier.
  • Tier III – Convictions including rape, sexual abuse of a minor, incest, or kidnapping are just a few examples of offenses that wind up in this tier.

The more severe an offense is, the higher the tier. Restrictions and constraints of the sex offender registry vary by tier, with tier one being the least restrictive and tier three being the most. A tier I offender must register every six months for up to 15 years. Tier II registration occurs every six months as well, but for twenty-five years. A tier III registration is for life and must be done every three months.

Although there are time limits on two of the tiers, those periods at minimum are a decade that a person faces the stigma of the registry. Is there a possibility of being removed from the registry before the expiration of the sentence?

Removal from The Sex Offender Registry

Yes, it is possible to be removed from the Maryland Sex Offender Registry. There are four ways in which a person on the sex offender registration can remove their name:

  1.   Pardon, expungement, or overturned conviction – If someone can expunge the record, get a pardon, or get the sentence overturned, their name and other identifying information are removed from the sex offender registration list.
  2.   End of registration term – When an offender's period of registration expires, their information is removed.
  3.   Relocation – If an offender moves, their name is removed but sent to the registry in the new state.
  4.   Death – When an offender dies before the registration term ends, their name is removed from the list.

In Maryland, the only way to get off the sex offender registration early is to be pardoned, expunge the record, or overturn the conviction…or is it?

Recently, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that sex offender registration is not a service but a punishment for a sex offense. Because of this ruling, all the elements of the crime required for registration have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at trial or through a plea agreement.

The ruling could allow some registered sex offenders to appeal the "punishment" because the registration requirement was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt or pleaded to. In addition, it is an avenue a defense attorney can pursue, which in essence allows "early release" from sex offender registration.

Hiring a great criminal defense lawyer specializing in sex offense cases will go a long way in helping reach the ultimate goal of being removed from the Sex Offender Registry.

A vigilant criminal defense attorney employs all opportunities, whether through appeal, expungement, or overturning the conviction. Focusing on just one avenue limits possibilities, so JC Law covers all the bases to get the best outcome possible.

If the restrictions and stigma of a sex offender registration hinder life, contact us today for a free initial consultation and find out how we could help you end sex offender registration.

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