In 2005, the federal government launched the National Sex Offender Public website as a way to connect the disparate lists maintained by state, tribal and territorial governments. The program was launched in response to sex offenders that travel between state lines and commit crimes. This article will go over this national registry and how it operates with the various state websites.
Each of these governments maintains their own registries, so your name remains on the state lists, and the participating states can choose to link to this national registry. If the list you are present on is linked to this national registry, then anyone can search for you. Once the search is complete, the searcher is sent to the applicable state registry website. This website acts as an aggregate of information rather than as a registry in its own right.
People can search under a variety of criteria from ZIP codes, cities and counties for complete lists of sex offenders to specific individuals. How a person is able to search depends on the parameters set down by the relevant jurisdiction. Regardless of how searchable the database may be, if your name is on a registry that is linked to this website then anyone can run a national search, and they will be directed to the state registry that contains your name.
Sex crimes carry steeper consequences than jail time, community service or fines. There is an intense stigma that is associated with sex offenders, even if the underlying crime is relatively harmless, like public urination. All it takes is an overzealous district attorney to insist that your name is placed on the registry list, and your information is searchable for the whole country. If you are charged with a sex crime, even a minor one, then you need to take it seriously and consult with an attorney as soon as possible. These crimes can carry steep consequences for your reputation and professional life.