Federal sex crimes are some of most serious offenses in the United States. These types of federal crimes are associated with the most severe penalties, typically involving a significant imprisonment term, fines and sex offender registration which may negatively influence other aspects of life following imprisonment. When the sex crime involves a child or minor, the prison term and fines may be twice as much when compared to adult sex crimes. When the sex crime is sadistic in nature, violent, or results in death, the harshest penalties are likely to apply. The majority of sex crimes fall within the jurisdiction of state law, with the exception of the federal duty to maintain current in the Sex Offender Registry. Under Title 18 of the United States Code, federal law applies for numerous sex offenses. The most common criminal sexual abuse violations that may fall under federal jurisdiction are listed below.
Aggravated Sexual Abuse or Rape
Aggravated sexual abuse may be categorized in one of the following areas- by inducing threat or force upon an individual to participate in sexual activity or by other means, such as, sexual activity with an individual who does not have the capacity to choose due to intoxication from drugs or alcohol, as well as, sexual activity with those that do not have the capacity to choose for other reasons and sexual activity involving minors under the age of 16.
Sex Crimes Involving Children and Minors
Federal sex crimes involving children and minors may involve any of the following.
- Production, distribution, receipt and possession of child pornography or nudity, such as, sexual exploitation of a child or minor in visual depictions of nudity or sexual conduct in filming or recording sessions, advertisements, books, magazines, and videotapes.
- Transmission of the above depictions over the Internet, in interstate facilities or across state lines.
- Soliciting a minor for sexual activities across state or federal lines.
- Crossing state or federal lines and/or bringing a minor across such lines with the intent to have sex with the minor and/or having sex thereafter.
- Kidnapping or trafficking of a minor or child for the purpose of sex or prostitution.
- Selling or buying a child or minor for the purpose of sex or prostitution.
Abusive Sexual Contact Crimes
Abusive sexual contact crimes refer to any intentional touching or contact to another’s buttocks, genitals, inner thighs, and/or breasts who does not have the capacity to make a well-educated decision (ie. child) or who does not desire sexual contact. In most cases, defendants may be prosecuted at the local or State level, but the majority have the federal duty to maintain current in the Sex Offender Registry.
Sexual Slavery or Human Trafficking
Sexual slavery or human trafficking typically involves buying, selling, as well as, psychologically and/or physically enslaving a person for the purpose of unwanted sex.
Sex Abuse Involving Death
Sex abuse involving death refers to any form of sexual abuse, coupled with inflicting death upon the affected individual.
Federal Crime Pornography Violations
Federal sex crimes may also involve engaging in the business of mailing, transporting, selling, and/or distributing obscene or sexual activity material across states lines, via cable or T.V., Internet, sent to foreign countries or any other sexual activity relating to such on federal property.
Repeat Sex Offender Crimes
Repeat sex offender crimes may include any of the above mentioned sex crimes following a previous conviction for a sex crime. The most common repeat sex offender crimes involve aggravated sexual abuse (rape); sex with a minor; and human trafficking for the purpose of sex or prostitution.
Federal Sex Registry Failure to Notify Crime
A sex offender that fails to register; fails to update; and/or improperly updates sex registry information when required to do so may be exposed to significant fines and up to 10 years in prison. If a registry offender commits a violent crime during this time period, he or she may be imprisoned for up to 30 years under the SORNA Act.
Federal Sex Offender Requirements
Federal sex offender requirements have been strengthened and reinforced since the adoption of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) in 2006. SORNA is a federal standard for improving the monitoring and tracking system for sex offenders in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and federally recognized Indian tribal lands.
The National Sex Offender Registration and Notification System requires that all sex offenders released into U.S. communities register and maintain current sex offender registration information by denoting residence location; school attendance data; employment status data and other personal information. State Registries are linked into the national system. Updated information is automatically sent to authorities at the appropriate jurisdiction level at the appropriate time. SORNA Registration requirements serve as an adjunct to state/federal requirements and may vary in several ways, as follows.
- Geographic area
- Sex offense Tier level
- Specific restrictions outlined in a sex offender’s written notification.
Prior to release from jail, prison, a mental hospital, or on probation, sex offenders are notified of their federal duty to register and update accordingly. Barring specific restrictions in the terms of release and imprisonment, sex offenders must commit to maintain current registration data for the following time periods.
- Tier I sex offenders must maintain a current registration for 15 years.
- Tier II sex offenders must maintain a current registration for 25 years.
- Tier III sex offenders must maintain a current registration for a lifetime.
Sex offender registration may also restrict where you reside and where you can be outside. For example, restrictions may be placed on how close you may go to a public park or school campus.
Current Registration Status vs. Federal Sex Crime
Sex Offender Registration violations are associated with very serious consequences. Should a criminal sex offender knowingly fail to register, improperly register, or fail to update his or her registration as required by SORNA, he or she will be charged with a federal crime. It is important to keep in mind that State convicted sex offenders may also be prosecuted under this Act. Registration information must also be updated when engaging in interstate travel, foreign travel, or entering, leaving, and if residing on federal Indian land.
Under SORNA, a sex offender may be exposed to significant fines and up to 10 years in prison if the following applies.
- Failure to register
- Failure to update status
- Improper entry of registry information
A sex offender in one of the above mentioned categories that commits a violent crime may be exposed to up to 30 years in prison.
The Record of Sex Offender Registration
Sex offenders must maintain current registration information for the entire duration of their registration period. This includes maintaining accurate and sometimes expansive information to prevent a federal crime. The National Registry system requires disclosure of the following information.
- Sex offender’s name and any aliases
- Social Security number
- Employer’s name and address
- If attending school, the school’s name and address
- Vehicle license plate number and description
State Registries are required to provide the following information about a sex offender; all of which may be easily accessible to the public in local and regional communities.
- Current photo and physical description of the sex offender
- DNA sample, fingerprints and palm prints
- Valid State driver’s license or identification card photocopy
- Legal definition of the criminal violation of the offender
- Parole status, such as, probation or supervised release
- Criminal history, such as, the date(s) of arrest(s) and conviction(s), if applicable
- Registration status
- Outstanding arrest warrants, if applicable
The State Registry information is passed down to local jurisdictions, as follows.
- All local authority jurisdictions where the sex offender lives, works and goes to school, if applicable. This includes local jurisdiction notice for residence, employment and/or school status changes.
- All schools and public housing agencies surrounding the offender’s residence, place of employment and school, if applicable.
- All Employment Background Check Agencies.
- All social service and volunteer organizations serving the protection of minors in the welfare system and those who are otherwise vulnerable.
- Special jurisdiction requirements, such as, the right to notification for companies, organizations, and individuals.
Federal Medical Center Requirements
Convicted federal sex criminals may also be required to enroll in a residential Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP-R) or Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP) at a Federal Medical Center. This would be a Federal Medical Center that is a Federal Bureau of Prisons Facility.
Federal Sex Criminal International Travel Restrictions
Federal sex criminals may be subject to reporting requirements prior to international travel or the secretary of state may revoke the passport of a criminal sex offender.