UPDATED: 50-State Chart on Relief from Sex Offender Registration

We have completed an overhaul of our 50-State chart on relief from sex offender registration obligations, to bring it up to date and ensure that it is thorough and accurate.  This chart documents the duration of sex offender registration requirements, as well as legal mechanisms for early termination from such requirements.

In conducting this review, we have identified a handful of states that have, since the chart was last revised in November 2017, expanded the availability of relief from sex offender registration requirements, including for people who have successfully completed diversionary dispositions, people with serious disabilities, and people who are registered based on out-of-state offenses.  These recent changes in the law, incorporated in the chart, are summarized below.

In 2018, Missouri enacted SB 655, substantially revising its sex offender registration scheme in a manner expected to reduce the number of people who are required to register.  Previously, all sex offender registrants were required to register for life, and the only mechanisms for relief were either: 1) a petition to the court 10 years after registration for people with certain non-violent offenses, or 2) a petition 2 years after a guilty finding for certain consensual youthful sex offenses.  Under the new scheme, which follows federal guidance, registrants are classified as tier I, II, or III, with Tier I requiring 15 years of registration, Tier II requiring 25 years, and Tier III requiring life.  Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 589.400, .401.  Tier I registrants may petition for a 5-year reduction of their 15-year registration obligation after 10 years with a “clean record,” and Tier III registrants for a juvenile adjudication may petition for removal after 25 years with a “clean record.”  Id.  One reason the new law is seen as likely to reduce the number of registrants in the state is that Tier I registrants under the new scheme comprise a substantially larger number of offenses than those authorized to petition for 10-year removal under the old law.  (One puzzling provision of the new § 589.401 is one that authorizes Tier II registrants to petition for relief after 25 years, the point at which their registration obligation would otherwise expire automatically.  §§ 589.400(4)(2), 589.401(4)(2).  We must assume this is a drafting error.)

In 2019, Tennessee enacted HB 624, which allows a person who is required to register due to a diversionary plea, to obtain termination of registration requirements upon successful completion of the term of judicial diversion and dismissal of the charges.  §§ 40-39-207(a)(1) and (c).

Also in 2019, Utah enacted HB 298, which adds a new provision authorizing people who are currently required to register for a period of 10 years after termination of sentence to petition the court for an order to be removed from the registry as early as 10 years after being sentenced to probation or committed to a community-based residential program, or 10 years after release from incarceration to parole, as long as the person commits no further serious offense, completes treatment, pays restitution, and otherwise complies with the terms of registration.  Compare § 77-41-105(3)(a) with § 77-41-112(1)(b).  This law, effective in May 2019, is likely to result in earlier termination of a registration obligation for people convicted of less serious offenses.

In 2018, Colorado enacted SB 26, which allows a registrant who suffers from a severe disability that is permanently incapacitating, to petition to discontinue registration.  § 16-22-113(2.5).  Georgia and Virginia have similar laws.  SB 26 also authorizes Colorado residents who are required to register because of an out of state conviction (which requires registration in the jurisdiction of conviction), to petition a Colorado court to discontinue the registration requirement if the person would not be required to register had the conviction occurred in Colorado.  § 16-22-103(3).