Will I Have to Register as a Sex Offender?

Being charged with a sex crime can be a scary and overwhelming event. The person charged knows that he or she likely faces prison time if convicted, but incarceration is only one fear. For many, there is the understanding that a sex crime conviction can have penalties that last for years beyond the prison sentence--often, for the rest of his or her life. "Will I have to register as a sex offender?" is one of the most common questions sex crime defendants have for their attorneys.

Federal law requires states to keep sex offender registries. The primary federal legislation governing sex offender registration and notification are the  The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), the Jacob Wetterling Act, and Megan's Law.

In addition to requiring sex offender registration and allowing public notification, federal law requires states to assign each sex offender a risk level, which is theoretically intended to label each offender with his or her risk of re-offending. In some states, the risk level (I, II, or III) is assigned through use of assessment tools which look at factors including the severity of the crime, characteristics of the victim(s), and the offender's history. In Oklahoma, however, these risk levels are strictly offense-based, which allows for some offenders to be labeled as high-risk (Level 3), even when there is virtually no chance of recidivism.

Any person convicted of a felony sex crime in Oklahoma must register as a sex offender for a period of 15 years (Level 1), 25 years (Level 2), or life (Level 3). The sex crimes requiring sex offender registration (and their associated risk level) follow:

Level I

  • Assault with Intent to Commit a Felony (if the offense involved sexual assault)
  • Caretaker Abuse or Neglect (when sexual abuse or sexual exploitation is involved)
  • Child Endangerment (if the offense involved sexual abuse of a child)
  • Crime Against Nature/Sodomy
  • Indecent Exposure/Indecent Exhibitions
  • Purchase, Procurement, or Possession of Child Pornography
  • Publication, Distribution, or Participation of Child Pornography
  • Aggravated Possession of Child Pornography
  • Importing or Distributing Obscene Material or Child Pornography
Level 2
  • Obscene or Indecent Writings, Pictures, etc./Solicitation of minors in any crime under this section
  • To Procure or Cause Minors to Participate in Obscene or Indecent Writings, Pictures, etc.
  • Guardian-Parents-Custodians Consent to Participation of Minor in Obscene Writings, Pictures
  • Soliciting Sexual Conduct or Communication with a Minor by use of Technology
  • Procuring a Child under 18 years of age for Prostitution, Lewdness, or Other Indecent Acts
  • Inducing, Keeping, Detaining, or Restraining for Prostitution a Child under 18 years of age
Level 3
  • Abuse or Neglect of Child/Child Beating (when sexual abuse or sexual exploitation is involved)
  • Incest
  • Forcible Sodomy
  • First Degree Rape/Rape by Instrumentation
  • Second Degree Rape (statutory rape)
  • Lewd or Indecent Proposals or Acts to a Child Under 16/Sexual Battery to a Person Over 16Kidnapping (if the offense involved sexual abuse or sexual exploitation)
  • Trafficking in Children (if the offense involved sexual abuse or sexual exploitation)
  • Child Stealing (if the offense involved sexual abuse or sexual exploitation)
  • Habitual offender (second or subsequent offense)

If someone is required to register as a sex offender in Oklahoma, there may be limited conditions under which he or she may petition for sex offender registry removal. These include the following conditions:

  • A "Romeo and Juliet" provision, in which a person was convicted of second degree rape or rape by instrumentation of a person aged 14 to 17 who is no more than four years younger than the convicted person.
  • An out-of-state conviction prior to 1989, the year the state enacted the sex offender registration act. A court ruling in Hendricks v. Jones finds that it is unconstitutional to unfairly apply SORA to people moving into Oklahoma from other states whose convictions occurred prior to the enactment of the law.
  • The retroactive application of risk levels to convictions prior to 2007, when the offense-based levels were enacted. In Starkey v. Oklahoma, the court ruled that the retroactive application of the risk level assignment is a violation of ex post facto clause in Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution.

To learn more about Oklahoma sex offender registration laws, click here, or call (405) 418-8888 to speak with an attorney about your case.