Petitions to Terminate Sex Offender Registration

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Under G.S. 14-208.12A, registered sex offenders who are not required to register for life can petition the superior court to terminate the registration requirement after 10 years. (The requirement to petition for deregistration came into being in 2006; before then, 10-year registrations terminated automatically after the requisite time had passed.) North Carolina’s sex offender registry has been around since 1996, so it’s not surprising-a little over a decade later-that these petitions are starting to come before the court more frequently. Unfortunately, the statute setting out the conditions under which the court may grant relief raises a number of difficult questions. One of the most difficult questions involves G.S. 14-208.12A(a1)(2), which prohibits a court from removing someone from the registry unless “[t]he requested relief complies with the provisions of the federal Jacob Wetterling Act, as amended, and any other federal standards applicable to the termination of a registration requirement or required to be met as a condition for the receipt of federal funds by the State . . . .”

What does that mean?

For over a decade, our state law on sex offender registration has flowed from federal mandates-states must enact laws that meet federal standards or lose certain grant funds. The Jacob Wetterling Act (1994) was the initial federal legislation that established minimum standards for states to register sex offenders. It has since been amended by Megan’s Law (1996), the Pam Lychner Act (1996), the Jacob Wetterling Improvements Act (1997), and, most recently, by the Adam Walsh Act (2006). Title I of the Adam Walsh Act, called the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, or SORNA, enacted a new and more stringent set of standards for sex offender registration. The act requires states to substantially implement these new standards by July 27, 2009, with up to two one-year extensions, or lose 10% of Byrne Justice Assistance Grant funds.

So what is G.S. 14-208.12A(a1)(2) really saying? I read it to mean that a court cannot allow someone off the registry if doing so would be contrary to the federal standards set out in SORNA-regardless of whether the General Assembly adopts them or not. There is an argument that this sort of blanket adoption by a state statute of prospective federal legislation, or of federal administrative rules yet to be adopted, is an unconstitutional delegation of state legislative power. See, e.g., Hutchins v. Mayo, 197 So. 495 (Fla. 1940) (holding that a state statute providing that fruit should be graded according to standards “as now fixed by the [USDA], or as standards may hereinafter be modified or changed,” unlawfully delegated state legislative power to a federal agency). But assuming they apply now, how do these federal mandates affect petitions to terminate registration?

Among other requirements, SORNA establishes a three-tier schedule of offense classification, with new minimum registration periods for each tier. For tier 1 offenses, the required registration period is 15 years (reducible to 10 years in some cases, described below); for tier 2 offenses, the period is 25 years; and for tier 3 offenses, the period is life. Because North Carolina will eventually need to adopt these new minimum periods to continue to receive federal funds, a court arguably ought, under G.S. 14-208.12A(a1)(2), to refuse to terminate registration for offenders who have not been registered for the amount of time that would be required under a SORNA-compliant regime.

The registration period for tier I offenses can be reduced from 15 to 10 years if the offender has a “clean record” during his or her period of registration, as that term is defined in 42 U.S.C. 16915(b)(1) and U.S. Department of Justice regulations, available here. Under this interpretation of G.S. 14-208.12A(a1)(2), only tier I offenses committed by offenders who satisfy the clean record rules are eligible to petition after 10 years as envisioned by G.S. 14-208.12A.

Which offenses would be tier I offenses? I can’t say for sure, as there is not a perfect overlap between our laws and the language and definitions used in federal law. My best guess is as follows:

  • Sexual Battery (14-27.5A)
  • Subjecting a Person to Sexual Servitude (14-43.13)
  • Incest between Near Relatives (14-178) (if the victim was not a minor)
  • Felony Indecent Exposure (14-190.9(a1)
  • Third Degree Sexual Exploitation of Minor (14-190.17A)
  • Peeping offenses (14-202)
  • Indecent Liberties with Children (14-202.1) (unless the crime involved “sexual contact,” defined as any sexual touching of or contact with the intimate parts of the body, either directly or through the clothing)

A person registering based on any other crime has to register for at least 25 years before being eligible to petition for termination under this interpretation of G.S. 14-208.12A(a1)(2).

All of that being said, on April 10, 2009, North Carolina applied to the U.S. Department of Justice for a one-year extension to comply with SORNA, which DOJ granted. Arguably, then, SORNA requirements are not yet “required to be met as a condition for the receipt of federal funds,” meaning consideration of the second prong of the test can, perhaps, be deferred until 2010 (or maybe 2011 if we apply for and are granted another one-year extension). Legislation proposed this session (H 1317) would bring North Carolina closer to SORNA compliance, but not all the way-the bill does not address retroactivity or juveniles.

Questions? Thoughts? Is the 15-year floor already being applied in some places? As always, I’d love to hear from you.

93 comments on “Petitions to Terminate Sex Offender Registration

  1. I am a registered Sex offender. I was in high school at the time of my offense and I feel I should’ve never been charged. An inspiring athlete, and had just enlisted in the Marine Corps, my future was set. Scholarships were rolling in, money was available, I was a senior in high school so of course the ladies were going to come. Long story short, the local law enforcement agencies had been trying to find a reason to lock me up because of my cocky attitude and flamboyant lifestyle. At the time I had just received a large sum of money from when my mother had died when I was a child. So naturally the assumed I was selling drugs. I was harassed on a daily basis. Me and my friend were subjected to regularly strip searches, so it was no surprise when they called me to the office that day. only my friend wasn’t there. What I found waiting was two detectives telling me my girlfriend was pregnant. my smart remark was tell her I said congratulations. they was asking me questions about our sex life which I felt had nothing to do with drugs. so I felt safe answering them. our school officer, ( who I later found out secretly despised me ) encouraged me to answer their questions. at the time I was 19. my girlfriend was 15. her mother knew about it. Pressured by her sister and the cops, her mother pressed charges. being charged caused me to be discharged from the Marines, my scholarships to be canceled, and thus begins my life of hell. I really didn’t understand the law like I do now otherwise I would’ve kept my mouth closed. In the state of Nc it doesn’t matter if they lie about their age or not, if you do it, youre guilty!! I knew her age but I didn’t care I was inlove. I was charged in 1999. I wasn’t convicted until 2001. it is 2014 and after four years in prison, one ruined marriage, and numerous of other failures in my life due to this charge, I still cant find a job. I have never worked a legal job due to this charge. I was wondering could anybody help me find a job.

    • I’m 22 years old now I have 3 children in I’m 9 months pregnant now I got charged with indecent assault unlawful contact with a minor they made them mister meaners this dude lied about his age I was 21 he was 16 he said he was 18 and I’m going threw hell about this with my children I’m a young mother who could possibly lose her children over this I’m hurt and this is in real I’m not no offender I’m against shit like this I wouldn’t hurt any one in that was and its messed up I’m really on this Megan’s law itjust seems so unreal iI’m tier 1 could I get off it or am I just screwed

    • Jay, I am here looking into info to get released from the registry since I have been on it for 12 years and I am Tier 1. I have used my life to help others in a halfway house and changed who I was as a person. I was put on the list for rubbing a girls breast at a party when I was in my early 20’s and she was a teenager. I signed a confession and sealed my fate instead of lawyering up. So I can cry about my misfortunes if I wanted BUT I changed. I fought through the sexual issues I have. I biblically found out about my real self. Here is what I am trying to say to you and any others that reads this. YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW. Everyone of us has found that out. You can’t run from it. For changing my life and doing good, the Lord has blessed me with my own business and people in the community like me even if they know about my registration. Don’t be afraid to see who you are and then change it. Or you can go through life blind, crying about how life isn’t fair, when infact God set it up exactly how he wanted. The unfairness you claim is easily explained in how you have been living. God blesses those that follow him every time.

  2. What about situations under a first offender/pre-trial intervention in which the offender had adjudication withheld and has successfully completed the terms of supervision?

  3. I just got denied for a charge relating to a 2nd degree offence back in 93. After completing all of the requested and man dated guide lines. I was still denied removal. All because they say O fall under the Walsh Act. My crime had nothing to do with a child and I was convicted for acting in concert. But here is the kicker. I possess a Public Trust Security Clearance with the federal government Agency that i work for and cleared for a Level Non- Secret clearance also. Did i miss something. If i did, or if there is some process to have this reviewed more. Please provided me with the information. I hold more clearance then a jailer. And the federal government has stated by clearing me that I have the public trust and DOD trust. By I’m told I have to register for life.

  4. I have a question. I have finished my time on the sex offender registry in Arkansas and petitioned the court and was granted the relief of obligation to register, which removes me from the state sex offender registry. Therefore, my question is, because the even though the state registrys have to comply with the federal mandates and guidelines. Why are so many states not complying with those set guidelines? And second since I do not have to register ever again in arkansas, will other states recognize the district courts decision to relieve me from registration or if i move to another state do i have to start my registration all over from day one and start registering in that state? Because I would figure that under the federal interstate compact, all states would have to recognize the final decisions of the courts nationwide.

  5. Im so sorry. Now u no how true law enforcement is.

  6. I don’t wish to claim pity or anything like that I want to look at the SOR from a different perspective. I am on the registry for a plea deal I took back in 2004 as a high school teacher accused of teacher misconduct with a 16 yr old. Even though I fought the case for over a year, I took the deal, did a 6 month prison sentence, intensive and unsupervised probation ALL without incident. What’s more, I went back to college, got a Masters degree, started a little consulting business and tried to fix my life. Now that I found another passion in Funeral Directing I thought maybe God was giving me a second chance. But to my dismay, the great state of NC says it will never allow someone with a sex crime conviction to become a licensed funeral director! So my question is how exactly are those registered supposed to be redeemed and rehabilitated. According to our own state reports, Sex offense crimes have the LOWEST rate of recidivism! So, if murderers, drug dealers, and any one else can be redeemed, why can’t those convicted of sex crimes?

    • That is the question of this century. Why not indeed? Maybe because the general public are misinformed, or they do not think for themselves, instead ascribing to whatever public officials tell them is needed and true (all SO are the same). Maybe, such as was my case, people just don’t know or understand the injustice brought about by these laws, not just to offenders but to innocent family members, including chidlren, of sex offenders. I had no idea because I never had a reason to check into these laws until recently. Drug offenders harm many times more children than sex offenders…where is the registry for drug dealers. Doesn’t this make the laws discriminatory, even though they are “for public safety?”
      Our American values and ideals have become so skewed. Once a person does the time for his/her crime they should be given a second chance to live a productive life. The registry acts contrary to this, even with the possibility of reduction. Do people not undersand that for most people who are considered level 2, even with a 25 yr registration period …that is for life given their age at the time of release. These laws are shameful and have been enacted for the sole purpose of politicol gain. This discrimination is no different than that suffered by blacks during the civil rights era. Most law enforcement agencies will tell you these laws do nothing to protect the public but cost taxpayers a WHOLE BUNCH OF MONEY.

  7. If a person was convicted in Maryland, on a 4th Degree misdemeanor and required to register how would they go about deregistering after the required time of 10 years?

  8. My question is, why aren’t sex offenders categorized? A 20 year old who has concentual sex with a minor is in no way, shape, or form the same as a man who molests a child. So why are these two treated as if they were the same? Why is the first guy still paying for it, 13 years later, no company will give him a chance because they think he molested a child when in reality it is nothing like that. 13 years later and he still can’t move on with his life because society doesn’t allow him to because of a label the government put on him. STOP THIS !!

  9. I see this from another stand point. I love someone who was charged with indecent liberties with a child back in 2000. This charge was brought about by North Carolina. I HAVE LOOKED at the case and I am confussed on where there is a crime in what was done. Here is the story. My friend was 16 years old when he met a 15 year old. Because of the age of consent laws he was of age and she was not, however the law states that there is a 4 year age gap for protection from prosecution. Now why was he charged you ask? He was suckered in by the public defender and DA to plea to somethung that should not have been a crime. Now 31 he is in prison yet again for failing to register. This is crazy that 14 years later he is still paying. This has ripped him away from his family and 2 year old son. I have been trying to find help for him by sending letters, emails and phone calls but no one seems to want to help! We are looking to get help from anyone who can get this craziness to end. This is a great man and he is missing his sons life over something that is just crazy! I love this man like a brother! Please let me know of any resources that might be able to help. My email is Courtney@cbautolocators.com.
    Thanks and God Bless
    On behalf of my friend Joe
    Courtney Bowen

  10. I am on this journey with my son, and his actions get him convicted on three offenses: 2 indecent exposures and one sexual battery. Acting out on the greenway after coming off anti-anxiety meds. Long story short, none of his actions involved children, however the Rockingham County NC high school kicked him out of HS in his last semester of senior year. These incidents can they put him on level 3 in NC. What about SBM at what point can they be made permanent?

    There needs to be reform of these laws. Non-violent misdemeanors shoudl be classified differently than predatory pedophiles. They way the ystem is now, there is not a distinction made and everyone assumes anyone on the SO registry is a predatory pedohile. It makes employment virtually impossible.

  11. I am 69 going 70 and I got released March 2013. I have to register for at least 10 years, if I get granted the 5 year reduction? So that will put me at age 78 and I have never molested or taken liberties of any Child ever. The punishment does not fit the crime. I am going to try to get my Probation reduced, so that I can travel to Europe, hence I was Borne there. The Tier one level should be removed from the registry. It serves no purpose to the Public’s safety. Texas has done this already and Tennessee is in process of doing so.

  12. I was charged in 2001 w/ stat rape. I was 20. She was 15.

    I got suckered withouy lawyering up.

    Sentenced in 2002. Finished obligations in 2007.

    Did 12 months intensive probation. 60 months regular probation. 4 years of counseling I had to pay for. Which I didnt even have to finish bc the therapist didnt even feel like I was a sexual offender. But he just took my money and graduated me without me finishing.

    So I moved back to California. They didnt even require me to register after they read my case in 2007.

    So now I see this new law pass in 2009.

    And now it falls retroactive towards me. Even though I have not committed any crime but traffic tickets since my initial charge. And I don’t get it.

    Yet if it fell retroactive towards me, then my crime isn’t even registerable bc most courts are not charging stat rape under certain age differences as a registerable offense.

    So I think I’m just going to file civil suits against the state for altering my sentence.

    My agreement was 10 years and removal.

    Not 10+ until I petition. Otherwise I would of went to trial bc I felt I would of gotten out since the parents would of settled with me out of court.

  13. I am trying to get my son off of this because he is not a sex offender. He was not represented well by public defenders office and they only agreed to every thing that DA wanted. My son was nude in public but he has schizophrenia and his friends thought it would be cool to give him “spice” to see his reactions. Officers arrested him once…let him go without him being supervised then re arrested same night for same thing. He was in a strange town and I was 45 minutes away from him. When he was rearrested he had been jumped by strangers and tied up when officers arrived they claim he assaulted them. Well, try seeing claws coming out of bodies and aliens and him being tied up how could he assault any one. My son had never been in trouble and was an honor student…he had letters from various people including the Mayor of our hometown yet the judge never read them. He was still seeing things and hearing the FBI listening to him 3 days after trying those synthetics that were sold legally over the counter and this has been over a year now and his memory is still trying to recover, so tell me who is the victim here? He touched no one and was not in his right mind…this is not fair to him or any one else in the same instance as him.
    Now he feels his life is ruined he can’t go to school on campus because of daycares and he can’t get a job after his record is checked. A sex offenders registration list should not allowed to be abused by government officials and should be saved only for rapists and child molesters which is what it is intended for. Where to go for help with this?

  14. I am a registered sex offender. My offense was committed in Wisconsin in 2007. I was convicted of a misdemeanor crime and even though the DA recommended me not having to register, the judge disagreed and put me on the registry for 15 years. Now I live in Georgia, who’s law is a life long registry, but because it was committed in Wisconsin, Georgia goes by the law in Wisconsin. I was charged with exposing myself in my boxers to a 15 yr old girl when I was 25. But because I was in a position of authority in a sense, the judge put me on the registry. My life hasn’t been the same since. I thank God for allowing my wife to come into my life and for great things to happen for us even though society sees fit that im to be on the registry. Im confused about something though, when murderers or thiefs or drug dealers do their time and are off supervision, why do they get to go about their lives ? . when us sex offenders are required by law to publicize where we live, work, vehicle info, and etc ? I don’t get where that is constitutionally accurate or fair. I seen on the news the other day, this teacher who had a sexual encounter with a student of his, but he didn’t have to register and was only given jail time and a smack on the wrist, where is this fair ?. not just for me , but for all those who are on the registry as well… people can kill, steal, do drugs, vandalize and so much more, yea they have a record but no public humiliating site showing their whole life , where they are living and such… God help our country. I thank God for others who stand up to laws and bills and laws and more laws that are passed by human beings , cause just because a law is being passed doesn’t make it pure or right, its made by a man a human being… What ever happened to the laws passed by God ?.. oh that’s right, we can put a man on a pedestal and bow to him and obey his command, but lets just throw God and his Word and his ways into the gutter…. God have mercy on us, as a whole.. on those who pass laws when they too are sinning behind closed doors and scoff at others for the mistakes others make… Jesus come , come soon we need you more now than ever. We are in a dangerous place, because our society has abandoned God to only lift up themselves. Registry or no registry , my wife and myself are on Gods side. Mans ways will perish, will eventually fail. God never will fail. .. With all this being said, I pray for lawmakers in our country, I pray for those who are in authority or not, they are still humans and even though they may present themselves as perfect people and who do no wrong when others aren’t looking, they are being lied to, because last time I checked there was only ONE perfect person, Jesus Christ is his name. So the people who present themselves as holy and mistakeless, remember you too will be held accountable for your actions, if its not by people it will be by the one who made you…. Thank you for those who step up in defense to us who struggle with the humiliation of the registry, and the humiliation of the misuse of the rights given to us when this country was founded. Thank you, its because God and people like you that makes each day worth living.. thank you.

  15. Hi there my name is Eric, I am a tier three sex offender. I live in Ohio and I’m trying to find a legal way to get off of registry list I never WAAF in prison only county jail for three months and was only supposed to register for ten years but after Adam Walsh act they told me I am locked in for life! I was 20 then I am thirty eight now. I just need some help to get this accomplished if possible. I haven’t been in trouble since and I know what I did was wrong and I know that God is a loving and forgiving God he had blessed me with a good job and loving people in my life but I’m backwards when it comes to being in a relationship with a woman because I don’t want to put anyone through the stigma of being in a relationship with a sex offender but I pray about it and put my problems and cares in God’s hands and I truly believe that he will answer my prayers by someone reading this that can help me legally. Thank you for this blog and your time God bless!

  16. This registry is destroying peoples lives it has to end!! people wake up!! first of all most Public defenders are paid by the Da, which means that the public defenders have to do what they are told or they will no longer be! also The Prosecutors are using the open flle system to convict. They get to choose what evidence they want and what evidence that might hurt there case then decide weather to keep or discard. they shouldnt have this option at all!!!! All they care about is moving up to the next step of the ladder. Not weather or not truth is the real factor! nor whether or not the person who filed charges has made up a story just to ruin a persons life because they have an axe to grind against them. Lets put it this way if you are charged with a crime . You are screwed . because there is no defense against a crime that the majority of people will only hear and reject. Because its best to convict then to doubt!! this has to end!! new laws have to be created!!! or we are all doomed. afather wont be able to walk dowm a street holding his daughters hand without someone saying something that never should have been said!!! Just like a witchhunt Stop this registry it is ruining peoples live along with all these laws that dont any make sence in the firt place!!!

  17. I have been on the register for 16 years now. I am not a sex offender. I was falsely accused and then locked up in the Cumberland County jail for 13 months waiting to go to court. While there I took and passed two polygraphs, was denied contact with my public defender, denied a speedy trial, wrote the NC. state bar, 20/20, 60 minutes, Dateline NBC, the local TV station’s and newspapers and anyone else I could think of to try to bring attention to my case. After 13 months in that county jail, which at the time allowed no access to a law library nor any access to the outdoors, I was told by the District Attorney that if I pleaded guilty to a lesser charge I could go home that day. He told me if I fought the charge, he would push for the maximum sentence and I would spend life without parole in prison. I was blackmailed and bullied into a plea. Today,16 years later,I was asked by my 16 Y/O niece (she was born while I was in that jail) if she should be talking to me on Facebook because of my”history”. I am so tired of this. I want it to be over. How can I get off the registry? I am a tier one offender, my conviction is over 15 years ago. I have been convicted of felonies since that time but nothing of a sexual or person on person crime.

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