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How Criminal Defense Lawyers Help With Maryland’s Sex Offender Registry

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Those convicted of a sex crime have more than just a fine and jail time to worry about. State and federal law mandate they register on Maryland’s Sex Offender Registry. This registration greatly limits their personal and professional opportunities for a decade or longer.

The Law Office of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC, can help defendants understand – and even avoid – registration through a proactive and powerful defense strategy that seeks to avoid unmerited short- and long-term sentences.

What Is Maryland’s Sex Offender Registry?

The Maryland Sex Offender Registry is a public, searchable database of the names and addresses of convicted sex offenders throughout the state.

Sex offenders must register and keep their information up to date on Maryland’s Sex Offender Registry for at least 10 years – sometimes for life.

This registration is one of the top penalties many sex offense defendants seek to avoid, as inclusion impacts where you can work, live, and even go. People make snap judgments about those included on the list, no matter what the crime may have been.

Why Does Maryland Even Need A Sex Offender Registry?

In the United States, “registration” was first used in the 1920s for repeat criminals and sometimes sex offenders.

One of the earliest rudimentary state sex registration statutes was enacted in California in 1947. Since then, every state has enacted some sort of sex registration statute.

These registrations were intended to drive out people who were believed to be “undesirables” in the community. In some cases, the registries worked as cover for other types of discrimination.

In 1994, Congress passed the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act. This federal act requires:

  • All states – including Maryland – to create registries of offenders convicted of sexually violent offenses or crimes against children; and
  • For sex offenders to verify their addresses annually for a period of 10 years, and for sexually violent predators to verify addresses on a quarterly basis for life.

States that did not establish sex offender registration programs could have lost 10% of their federal funding. And so, we get the modern-day state-based sex offender registries.

New Jersey was one of the first states to implement a sex offender registry and notification law back in 1994. The Maryland legislature soon thereafter enacted its own sex registry statute to comply with federal law. Maryland’s first actual sex registration occurred in 1995.

How Does Maryland’s Sex Offender Registry Work? How Do You End Up On It?

If you are convicted of rape or any other type of sexual assault, then you will probably be required to register on Maryland’s Sex Offender Registry for at least 10 years.

Broken down at its core, Maryland has categorized sex offenders into four different groups:

  • Typical offender
  • Child sexual offender
  • Sexually violent offender
  • Sexually violent predator

Maryland law further organizes these offenders into three different “tiers” for sex offense registration requirement purposes. The more serious offense, the higher the tier.

Depending on the type of convicted sex offense, sex offenders are required to register with the sexual offender registry for at least 10 years:

  • Tier 1 is a 15-year term, sometimes 10
  • Tier 2 is a 25-year term
  • Tier 3 is a lifetime registration requirement

How Can A Criminal Defense Lawyer Assist Clients With The Maryland Sex Offender Registry?

Criminal defense lawyers experienced in sex offense cases understand why Maryland’s Sex Offender Registry was originally created, and how the current system is rigged against every sex offender. Defense lawyers then use that knowledge to their client’s benefit.

The first problem with the registry is that it attempts to classify everyone in the same pot. A true child predator is listed right next to someone who had a crush on a 14-year-old in high school when he was 19 and had sexual relations with her consent.

This situation becomes increasingly common as young people lie about their true ages online, accidentally creating enormous legal problems through technical statutory rape charges.

You can see how this “basket” approach is deplorable and ruins many lives.

For years, courts also determined that being placed on the sex registry was not a “punishment” – even as registration was used to discriminate against housing, employment, and other fundamental services.

Recently, though, courts have started to realize that a sex registry is a form of punishment, even though it is not jail time. They have a better understanding of what such registration means for a sex offender, and may allow for more discretion when it comes to who really needs to be on such a list.
criminal defense lawyer experienced in sex offense cases can make sure that, even if convicted of a sex crime, the punishment truly reflects the crime without needlessly overbearing and ancient sentencing guidelines.

“I thought it was all downhill and had no hope for my case. Mr. Crawford told me it’s going to be fine and we are going to get through this, and that’s what we did. He won my case and got it dismissed. Through it all, his staff supported me mentally and showed that they truly care – not just about the case, but me.”

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