How Long Will I Have to Register as a Sex Offender?

For people who have been accused of a sex crime, one of the primary concerns is not how long they will have to go to prison if convicted, but how long they will have to register as a sex offender afterwards. Often, the sex offender registration requirement is much more difficult than any other aspect of the sentence. As a convicted sex offender, a person has significant residency restrictions, and once the person does have suitable housing, the neighbors and the general public may be notified of his or her address. He or she may not be allowed contact with minors and will likely be prohibited from visiting parks, playgrounds, or schools. A person convicted of a sex crime may also have computer and internet restrictions, employment restrictions. A registered sex offender may have to obtain permission from church leaders to attend worship, and may have the words SEX OFFENDER emblazoned across his or her license.

So if you are convicted of a sex crime in Oklahoma--or if you are convicted out of state and move to Oklahoma--how long will you be required to register as an Oklahoma Sex Offender?

It depends upon the specific offense of which you were convicted.

Under federal sex offender registration laws, each state must designate a system that classifies convicted sex offenders based upon the severity of the crime and the likelihood of re-offense. Under this 3-tier system, Level One sex offenders are considered the least likely to re-offend; Level Three sex offenders are considered the greatest risk.

In some states, determining a sex offender's status requires analysis of not only the specific crime, but also the details of that case, including mitigating factors such as the offender's age, the victim's age, presence or lack of apparent consent, and whether the act was a first offense or the person is a repeat offender.

In Oklahoma, the process of determining sex offender level is much more simple, but it is often unfair and fails to distinguish between crimes that are much, much different in actuality.

Oklahoma sex offender level assignment is strictly offense-based. No mitigating factors are considered in assigning a risk level to a sex offender in this state.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections sex offender level tool assigns offenses as Level 1, 2, or 3 as follows:

Level 1
  • 21 O.S. 681 - Assault with Intent to Commit a Felony (if the offense involved sexual assault)
  • 21 O.S. 843.1 - Caretaker Abuse or Neglect (when sexual abuse or sexual exploitation is involved)
  • 21 O.S. 852.1 - Child Endangerment (if the offense involved sexual abuse of a child) 
  • 21 O.S. 886 - Crime Against Nature/Sodomy
  • 21 O.S. 1021 - Indecent Exposure/Indecent Exhibitions
  • 21 O.S. 1024.2 - Purchase, Procurement, or Possession of Child Pornography
  • 21 O.S. § 1040.8 - Publication, Distribution, or Participation of Child Pornography
  • 21 O.S. 1040.12a - Aggravated Possession of Child Pornography
  • 21 O.S. 1040.13 - Importing or Distributing Obscene Material or Child Pornography
Level 2
  • 21 O.S. 1021 - Obscene or Indecent Writings, Pictures, etc./Solicitation of minors in any crime under this section
  • 21 O.S. 1021.2 - To Procure or Cause Minors to Participate in Obscene or Indecent Writings, Pictures, etc.
  • 21 O.S. 1021.3 - Guardian-Parents-Custodians Consent to Participation of Minor in Obscene Writings, Pictures
  • 21 O.S. 1040.13a - Soliciting Sexual Conduct or Communication with a Minor by use of Technology
  • 21 O.S. 1087 - Procuring a Child under 18 years of age for Prostitution, Lewdness, or Other Indecent Acts
  • 21 O.S. 1088 - Inducing, Keeping, Detaining, or Restraining for Prostitution a Child under 18 years of age
Level 3
  • 21 O.S. 843.5 - Abuse or Neglect of Child/Child Beating (when sexual abuse or sexual exploitation is involved)
  • 21 O.S. 885 - Incest
  • 21 O.S. 888 - Forcible Sodomy
  • 21 O.S. 1114 - Rape in the First Degree/Rape by Instrumentation
  • 21 O.S. 1123 - Lewd or Indecent Proposals or Acts to a Child Under 16/Sexual Battery to a Person Over 16
  • 21 O.S. 741 - Kidnapping (if the offense involved sexual abuse or sexual exploitation)
  • 21 O.S. 865 -Trafficking in Children (if the offense involved sexual abuse or sexual exploitation)
  • 21 O.S. 891 - Child Stealing (if the offense involved sexual abuse or sexual exploitation)
  • 21 O.S. 1116 - Rape in the Second Degree
  • Second and Subsequent Sex Offense Conviction
To determine how long a person will have to register as a sex offender, determine the level of offense as indicated above: 
  • Level 1 sex offenders must register with local law enforcement annually for 15 years.
  • Level 2 sex offenders must register with local law enforcement every 6 months for 25 years.
  • Level 3 sex offenders must register with local law enforcement every 90 days for life.

Certainly, few people would see statutory rape as an equally egregious crime as forcible rape, yet these two offenses are classified equally. Similarly, most people would see child prostitution (Level 2) as more serious than an unwanted slap on the behind (sexual battery - Level 3), yet these crimes are classified in the opposite manner--although it should be noted that "child prostitution" will more likely be prosecuted as trafficking in children, which is a Level 3 sex offense.

The penalties for sex crime conviction are severe and long-lasting. If you are accused of a sex offense, do not speak to anyone except your lawyer about your case. Call (405) 418-8888 for help.  

Image Credit: West Midlands Police

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