If found guilty of a sexual violation in Arizona, the court will likely require you to comply with the sex offender registration requirement. In Arizona, sex offender registration is for your entire life, with only one exception. The exception is that a person accused of a sex crime while a minor may stop registering as a sex offender when they turn 25. The problems you are facing are severe, and the best step you could take is to contact an experienced sex crimes lawyer.
At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we help clients understand how registration as a sex offender works and its application to their cases. If accused of a sex offense, never try resolving your case before considering the consequences of sex offender registration. Most people who enter a guilty plea for sex offenses to receive lenient penalties are blindsided by the requirement to register as a sex offender for life.
If you contact us with a sex offense case, we will fight with a solid defense strategy to avoid a conviction. This way, you will also avoid sex offender registration. If you have already been convicted, we will handle all the post-judgment matters related to your sex offense case, including sex offender registration. Our primary objective is to resolve your case so you will not have to register as a sex offender.
Arizona Sex Offender Registration Overview
The stigma you may face if convicted of a felony and potential long-term or lifetime probation are often not as hurtful as being mandated to comply with the sex offender registration requirement. In several ways, this non-criminal penalty often feels like the most severe part of a sexual offense conviction. For one, it can adversely affect your whole life, making you incapable of finding a job or renting an apartment. The registration will also likely make it difficult for you to enjoy the company of your children and participate in certain events with them, for example, youth athletics and school-related events.
A sex crime conviction or the sex offender registration requirement may make it impossible to obtain fingerprint clearance. This happening nowadays means you will likely not be allowed to teach, coach, or mentor children in a meaningful capacity.
The requirements to register as a sex offender in Arizona started in 1996 after the state passed laws establishing a community system that aims to maintain the residents’ safety by monitoring sex offenders after being released and returning to the community. Failing to comply with the requirement is considered a felony offense in itself.
The law requires you to register your present address annually. And based on which sex offender level you are required to register, the authorities may inform your neighbors of your criminal history.
Level Three Sex Offender Registry
The Arizona state’s sex offender register has three levels— Level one, Level two, and Level three depending on the offender's likelihood of committing another sex offense after being set free from incarceration. If you have been found guilty of a sex offense, you will undergo the state’s sex offender assessment screening. This screening aims to establish the likelihood of you reoffending and, therefore, what level will be appropriate for you.
Level three sex offender registry is the most severe. Offenders under this category have been established to be at the highest risk of reoffending and, therefore, the greatest danger to the community. Their information is contained in a publicly-accessible sex offender database managed by the state’s DPS (Department of Public Safety). They could also be placed in the national database established by the SORNA (Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act). Any public member can search the register and see the offender's age, name, current photograph, address, risk level, and offense committed.
Level three sex offenders are prohibited from residing in particular areas. And if they relocate to another residence, law enforcement officers must inform residents living in the neighborhoods close to where they (offenders) live that a sexual offender is residing nearby. Flyers containing the offender’s address, photo, name, and summary of their criminal history are distributed to community groups, schools, and residences. Authorities also issue press releases to local newspapers and TV stations, and the offender’s employer is given notice.
Like other levels of sex offender registration, sex offenders under level three must re-register annually. Re-registering includes renewing their driving privilege and updating their registration details with the local police agency.
Other levels of the Arizona sex offender registry are levels two and one. Level two sex offender registry incorporates sex offenders with a medium risk of re-offending. Law enforcement officers will inform only residences and homes in the sex offender’s immediate neighborhood, the schools and community groups immediate to them, and their employer. The authorities are not required to issue any press release for level two offenders.
Level one has sex offenders that are the least likely to re-offend. Law enforcement officers are only supposed to keep the offender’s record, and only those residing in one home or residence with the offender are given notice.
How Sexual Offender Assessment Screening Is Done
The local sheriff’s department conducts the sex offender assessment screening when the sex offender comes to register. But if your sentence includes a prison or jail term, the Department of Corrections will conduct the assessment before your release from detention. It is critical to know that changing the sex registration level you have been assigned is almost impossible. Even though there is a procedure you can follow, courts rarely grant these kinds of applications. There are nineteen factors considered during the assessment screening. They are:
- The number of past convictions of a misdemeanor or felony crime involving sexual conduct or contact that the offender has.
- Any past felony conviction for a non-sexual crime.
- The offender's age when they were first convicted of a sex offense.
- Any sex offense-related arrest that resulted in a case dismissal.
- Whether the offender used a weapon to commit any sex crime that led to a conviction.
- The number of victims of the offender’s sexual offenses, including any case the court/prosecutors dismissed due to a plea deal.
- The relationship the offender has with their victims.
- The sex offenses victims’ gender.
- Whether excessive force was applied to perpetrate a sex offense.
- Aggravating circumstances to the sex crimes, like:
- The victim is being mutilated or tortured.
- The involved victim is tied up or bound.
- The offense lasted longer than three hours.
- The perpetrator forcefully moved the involved victim to another place during the commission of the crime.
- Whether the offender committed their first sex offense over five years ago.
- Whether the sex offender has a mood disorder, an IQ below 70, or a mental illness.
- The offender’s alcohol or drug use.
- Whether the sex offender has a sexually deviant interest or interests such as pedophilia, voyeurism, necrophilia, exhibitionism, bestiality, sexual masochism or sexual sadism, or fetishes
- Whether the sex offender had an education commitment or a stable job before their conviction of the sex crime.
- Whether the offender faced a primary disciplinary matter while in incarceration.
- If this was their subsequent conviction, the period between the offender’s release from incarceration and their subsequent felony violation.
- The offender enrolled and completed an attorney general-approved sexual offender treatment course while incarcerated.
- The offender enrolled in and completed drug abuse treatment while in confinement.
The risk assessment will generate two different results— the possibility that the offender will commit another sex crime and the likelihood that the offender will commit any other criminal violation. Convicted sexual offenders are categorized under level three when they are either at a:
- High/very high possibility of perpetrating another sexual offense.
- Very high/ultra-high risk of perpetrating any other offense.
This means the underlying sexual crime will affect, although not dictate, under what level of the sex offender registry you will be placed. Some of the crimes that can influence a level three sex offender registration requirement are:
- Public sexual indecency with a child below fifteen years old.
- Child molestation.
- Exploiting a minor sexually or sex trafficking a minor.
- Luring a juvenile for purposes of sexual exploitation.
- Illegal sexual conduct with a child.
- Indecent exposure.
- Sexual abuse.
- Sexual assault.
- Sexually abusing a minor below 18 years.
- Kidnapping a victim below 18 years and the perpetrator is not the victim's parent.
- Sexual extortion of a child below fifteen years.
- Child prostitution happened before 9th August 2017.
- third/subsequent public indecency conviction.
Restrictions on Places Level Three Sex Offenders Can Stay
We mentioned that Level three offenders are prohibited from living in particular areas. Unlike Level two and Level one sex offenders, Level three offenders cannot stay within a thousand feet of:
- Their previous victim.
- A childcare facility.
- A public high, middle, or elementary school.
- A private school.
However, there are various exceptions. These residence limitations do not apply to:
- Sex offenders with written consent from the victim or a child victim's guardian or parent to reside nearby.
- Anybody who has not been found guilty or imprisoned for a crime in the past ten years.
- Anybody whom the court has restored their civil rights.
- Offenders who are presently on probation.
- Child sex offenders.
- Offenders who established residency before 19th September 2007 or before a new childcare facility or school opened nearby.
Violating any of these living limitations is deemed a Class 1 misdemeanor. A second/subsequent violation that involves the offender's previous victim is a Class 6 felony.
If found guilty in another state of an offense that necessitates level three sexual offender registration in Arizona, Arizona State may need you to comply with the sex offender registration requirement even if the other state did not mandate it. If you are a registered sex offender from another state visiting Arizona, you must register with the county sheriff if you plan to stay in Arizona for over ten days.
The Registration Procedure
After serving your prison or jail time, you only have ten days to comply with the registration requirement. The registration takes place at the local sheriff in your county of residence. Your registration info becomes publicly accessible and is shared with other police agencies, starting with the law enforcement department in your city.
After registering for the first time as a sex offender, the law requires you to update your details annually with the local county sheriff. Should you relocate or if you will be staying far from the home address you registered, you should update the registration details with the local county sheriff before 72 hours elapse.
Even if you do not have a home, you must still adhere to all the requirements of sex offender registration. If you lack a residence address to an apartment, you must register with the county sheriff's department every three months. Rather than a traditional street or house number, you must describe your physical residence in writing, even if it is a bench or an unoccupied lot.
And if you travel outside of Arizona for work in another state for more than ten days, you must register with the authorities in the state where you are. Also, note that registering as a sex offender in Arizona is not free. You must pay an initial fee of two hundred and fifty dollars.
Special Driver's License for Sex Offenders
If you have been mandated to comply with the sex offender registration requirement in Arizona, there are additional requirements the law requires imposes on you. First, you will have to surrender your usual state driver's license and be issued a new, specially-created driving privilege for convicted sexual offenders.
Even though a sex offender's license may resemble a regular driver's license, it is uniquely encoded, so the police are cautioned that the driver is a sex offender. When police officers feed your license info into the database, they will see you are a sex offender. And although it needs not to change how police officers treat drivers, most registered sex offenders receive not-so-good treatment.
If you have a special license for sex offenders, the law requires you to renew it each year. You must update your address and license photo every time you renew your sex offender driver's license. You will also be required to pay a hundred dollars yearly for the special sex offender driver's license.
Failure to hand over your old license, obtain the sex offender's license, or renew your special license may subject you to a felony charge, and a conviction may result in prison time.
Consequences for Violating Sex Offender Registry Laws
The state's sex offender statutes dictate that you must adhere to all the registration requirements. Therefore, you do not have a choice here. Failure to obey the sex offender registration provisions will result in you facing felony charges, a conviction of which may lead to imprisonment. Always consult a lawyer experienced in sex offender registration to ensure you adhere to all laws.
Obtaining Relief from the Sex Offender Registry
Talking with an experienced sex crimes attorney may enable you to obtain relief from the sex offender registry. For example, juvenile sexual offenders must comply with the registration requirement if the court rules them delinquent. Per ARS (Arizona Revised Statute) 3821(D), this requirement ends when the juvenile turns 25.
Per ARS 23-3826, you could qualify for a petition to be removed from the sex offender register if the involved victim was between fifteen and seventeen years. You must have been younger than twenty-two years when you committed the sexual offense for this legal defense to succeed. It would be best if you were thirty-five years old when filing the petition.
The relationship needs to have been consensual. Additionally, you need to have satisfied the probation requirements without any violations. You need to have a felony-free record, and you should not have been convicted of any other sex crimes. Lastly, you cannot petition for relief if you have served time in prison or jail.
Find an Experienced Sex Crimes Attorney Near Me
If convicted of a sexual offense in Arizona, having to comply with the sex offender registration requirement is virtually guaranteed. Eventually, you will complete your prison or jail time, clear all court-ordered fines, and serve all the consequences of a sex offense the court ordered against you. However, registering as a sex offender for life and the accompanying stigma will never end.
The ideal way of avoiding sex offender registration is to achieve an outcome for your sex crime case that does not mandate registration in the first place. To stand the best chance of avoiding registering as a sex offender, start by hiring an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer.
At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we can help you avoid a conviction for sex crime by developing a solid defense strategy. Avoiding a conviction means you are not guilty and will not be required to register as a sex offender. And in the unfortunate event that you are convicted, we can still assist you. We can represent you in court to obtain relief from the requirement. Call us at 602-551-8092 for a consultation and case evaluation.