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How does Maryland's sexual offender registry work?

offenert.JPGSex offense convictions are punished in a uniquely painful and shaming way. You are required to register in a sex offender. In addition to prison time or probation, you must submit to the public shaming of being on a list of dangerous persons. Anyone who wants to can obtain this list.

If you move or change jobs, you must let people know about the change. You cannot move to another state and disappear. Wherever you go, you go on the local registry.

Think about it

We do not punish murderers, kidnappers, or drug dealers this way. It makes the category of sexual offenses, no matter how minor, the most punished. And there is no "give" in the law - if you are convicted, you go on the list, with very few exceptions. Judges may not exempt you from this punishment.

In Maryland there are three tiers of registrants:

  • You go on Tier I, which lasts 15 years, if you are convicted for fourth degree offenses, such as possessing certain kinds of pornography or peeping.
  • Tier II lasts 25 years, and is reserved for distributing pornography and any other third degree sex offense.
  • Tier III, which is lifelong, is for convictions for the very serious crimes of incest, kidnapping, the sale of a minor, and murder of assault with the intention of raping.

Convicted offenders must register at different intervals. Tier I and Tier II offenders report to authorities every six months. Tier III registrants must report every three months.

What this tells you is that you do not want to be convicted of a sex offense in Maryland. Heavy penalties for sex offenses are a proven vote-getter, and legislatures in every state have shown little mercy or compassion for offenders.

Therefore it is critical that you work with an experienced sex offense lawyer from the moment you are arrested.

Can you be removed from the registration list?

Yes, but only for a limited set of reasons:

  • You have died.
  • You have been pardoned.
  • You have had the record of conviction expunged from your criminal record.
  • You have moved to a different location. (Note that your name will be forwarded to the new location.)

You obviously don't want to be convicted of any offense. But Tier I is better than Tier II, and Tier II is not as awful as Tier III. A good lawyer can often negotiate a lighter sentence, and assignment to a lower tier.

It is a painful thing to be accused of a sex crime, and many of our clients come to us discouraged and depressed. We understand this and we sympathize. But it is still important to stand up for yourself and work for the most positive outcome possible. At MacDonald Law Offices, in Salisbury, that is always our goal.

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