In the sixteen years since my release, I have lived in three different states, have been homeless, and have been forced to register in states where I do not reside. As a registrant moving from Alabama, with lifetime reporting requirements, to Ohio, a state which had a Tiered registry, I found myself being erroneously classified as a “sexual predator” whereas my state of conviction did not classify me as a sexual predator. As an activist, I have also taken numerous calls from people who have received Failure To Register (FTR) charges or forced to register in one state after being removed from another state’s registry. I have been amazed at the amount of people who have contacted me in the past decade who moved from one state to another and who also ran into complications due to the complexity of confliction federal, state, and even local laws. Many registered citizens and their loved ones are confused by the complex web of registry laws and seek out advice, but sadly, many seek this advice only after complications. As activists, we should go beyond laws to educate those about to live under these rules, including the laws regarding moving from state to state.

Stated bluntly, moving to a new state comes with a different set of conditions and burdens for Registered Citizens, and there is no simple guideline to follow.

Federal inmates and registrants residing in the 17 states (AL, CO, FL, KS, LA, MD, MI, MS, MO, NV, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, WY), 4 US Territories (Guam, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, & N. Mariana Islands), and 133 Indian tribes that have “substantially implemented SORNA”, the registry provisions of the federal Adam Walsh Act (AWA) passed in 2006, are generally classified according to the suggested federal guidelines. (Oddly, Washington DC, a federal territory, is NOT AWA compliant.) This means you are given a Tier level that corresponds to the number of years you will have to register; Tier 1 registrants register for 15 years, Tier 2 registrants register for 25 years, and Tier 3 registrants register for life. However, how you will be classified by the state of your residence may vary drastically, EVEN IN AN AWA STATE! In addition number of states (AL, CA, CO, FL, GA, HI, OR, SC, WY) maintain lifetime reporting requirements for ALL registrants, though California (2021) and Oregon (est. 2021) are currently converting to a tier system. Missouri converted to a 3 tiered system in 2018. Arkansas has a four-tier system in place. Most states have a 3 tiered system.

The main difference between an AWA compliant state and one that is not compliant is how registrants are classified assuming a tier system even exists. Many non-AWA states utilize a risk-based classification scheme. This means you would undergo a barrage of psychological tests & actuarial tests like the Static-99 to determine under which tier you’ll be forced to register. Under the AWA, tier systems are based upon your official charges; any registrant with a hands-on offense. Below is the suggested tier system breakdown adopted by the AWA:

Tier I Offenses — Convictions that have an element involving a sexual act or sexual contact with another, that are not included in either Tier II or Tier III, including: False Imprisonment of a Minor; Video Voyeurism of a Minor; Possession or Receipt of Child Pornography; The following Federal Offenses: Video Voyeurism of a Minor, 18 U.S.C. Receipt or Possession of Child Pornography, Receipt or Possession of Child Pornography, Misleading Domain Name, Misleading Words or Digital Images, Coercion to Engage in Prostitution, Travel with the Intent to Engage in Illicit Conduct Engaging in Illicit Conduct in Foreign Places; Arranging, inducing, procuring, or facilitating the travel in interstate commerce of an adult for the purpose of engaging in illicit conduct for financial gain); Filing Factual Statement about Alien Individual, Transmitting Information about a Minor to further Criminal Sexual Conduct; Any comparable military offense specified by the Secretary of Defense under section 115(a)(8)
(C)(i) of Public Law 105-119 (10 U.S.C. §951 note)

Tier II Offenses — Convictions that involve: A person previously convicted of a tier I offense whose current sex offense conviction is punishable by more than one year imprisonment: The use of minors in prostitution (to include solicitations); Enticing a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity; A non-forcible Sexual Act with a minor 16 or 17 years old; Sexual contact with a minor 13 or older; The use of a minor in a sexual performance; The production or distribution of child pornography; The following Federal Offenses: Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud, or Coercion; arranging, inducing, procuring, or facilitating the travel in interstate commerce of an adult for the purpose of engaging in illicit conduct for financial gain; Abusive Sexual Contact, Victim 13 or Older; Sexual Exploitation of Children; Selling or Buying of Children; Sale or Distribution of Child Pornography; Sale or Distribution of Child Pornography; Producing Child Pornography for Import; Transportation for Prostitution; Coercing a Minor to Engage in Prostitution, Transporting a Minor to Engage in Illicit Conduct; Any comparable military offense specified by the Secretary of Defense under section 115(a)(8)(C)(i) of Public Law 105-119 (10 U.S.C. §951 note)

Tier III Offenses — Convictions that involve: A person previously convicted of a tier II offense whose current sex offense conviction is punishable by more than one year imprisonment; Non-parental kidnapping of a minor; Sexual contact with a minor under 13; The following Federal Offenses: Aggravated Sexual Abuse; Sexual Abuse; Sexual Abuse of a Minor or Ward; Abusive Sexual Contact, victim under 13; Any comparable military offense specified by the Secretary of Defense under section 115(a)(8)(C)(i) of Public Law 105-119 (10 U.S.C. §951 note)

The AWA is a set of minimum standards rather than a universal standard. AWA states can have more stringent requirements, like AL and FL, which require lifetime registration with no tier system in place, and still considered AWA compliant.

This system is very complicated and can cause major problems when moving from state to state. One common problem with moving state-to-state is that registry status often defies the law of gravity, meaning your status can go up but rarely comes down, even if you return to the state that originally classified you as a lower tier registrant! For example, a Tier 1 registrant no longer required to register in Ohio because he timed out of his Tier 1 registry status moved to Florida, where everyone registers for life, & now the Ohio registrant is a lifetime Florida registrant and will be on the Florida list even after he dies. Another caller moved from Wisconsin, which classified him as a Tier 1, moved to another state which classified him as a Tier 3, and when he tried to move back to Wisconsin, he was told he’d be classified as a Tier 3 if he moved back. Some states keep you on their registries even if you don’t live in that state. Many, but not all, states try to pigeonhole out-of-state RCs into a corresponding tier, but it may cause a person to be improperly labeled as a “predator.”

If you have been removed from the registry in one state but are forced to register in another state, it is possible to be removed from the registry via court order if you are willing to fight registration. A couple of recent cases, one in North Carolina, the other in Florida, give hope for removal from the registry upon moving to a new state under specific circumstances:

• Meredith v Stein, No. 5:17-CV-528-BO (E.D.N.C., 7 Nov 2018): Ruled the state’s process for adding people to the NC registry who had been convicted out of state deprived Plaintiff of a cognizable liberty interest and the procedures protecting that interest were constitutionally inadequate. The Plaintiff moved from Washington state; NC officials initially told him he would not have to register, but forced him to register anyways upon arrival.
• In the May 10, 2017edition of The Islander (A weekly newspaper in Holmes Beach FL), it was reported that The 12th Circuit State Attorney Office had dropped a case against a man accused of FTR because his crime predated the registry in Indiana, where the man had been convicted. The defense provided the state with a 2011 court order from Indiana, which “specifically states that the defendant is not required to register because his conviction predated the registry,” Assistant State Attorney Shanna Sue Hourihan wrote in the memo.

The most common misperception that has led to numerous criminal charges for FTR is the assumption that an RC moving from one state to another only has to notify one state of the move. A registrant moving from Ohio to Florida has to notify BOTH states within the timeframe the state gives; for Ohio that’s within 72 hours of a move, and within 48 hours of the move for Florida. Another problem moving to a new state is that states that may not have statewide residency or presence restrictions may allow counties & municipalities to adopt such laws. In states with residency laws, not all states contain provisions within the law that allows registrants to keep their homes & apartments if they resided in the property before a prohibited place moves close to them. Even if you no longer have to register in one state due to timing out or obtaining relief from registration requirements (such as from a pardon or relief through the courts), some states may force you to register.

No matter which type of court convicted you – state, federal, military, territorial, or even the court of a different nation—EVERYONE forced to register will experience these difficulties. Therefore, my best advice for any SO moving to a new state, whether currently forced to register or not, is contact the registration office before you plan on moving to find out what restrictions and/or tier you may land on long before you finalize a move. You must research each state’s laws. There is no worse feeling than buying a new home or moving into that new apartment only to be forced to move because someone opened a new daycare down the street. Be sure to give sufficient time to the registry officers in both the state you are leaving and the state you are moving to of your intent to move. A little headache today can save you a lot of headaches down the road.

Derek W. Logue, Reform Advocate

7 comments for “MOVING TO A NEW STATE

  1. Thomas Darby
    May 11, 2019 at 5:48 am

    The mixed-up policies of every State almost beg for a Federalization of all such laws (oh God, not another Federal bureaucracy, the Sex Offender Administration!). Before I’d left California few years ago, they had made a change in the Megan’s Law reporting such that my 1997 conviction for L & L with a victim under 14 was no longer on the site, based on “no penetration” of the alleged victim. It was a minor thing, but it was a start. This was before the tiered registry was a thing. In Tennessee, now, they used all my old charges, I’m considered “violent against children,” and must register quarterly for life. And pay for the privilege.

  2. Flossy73
    May 14, 2019 at 4:47 pm

    This should be required reading for anyone facing a plea “deal” that will result in registration.

  3. California Resident
    May 14, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    Amazingly enough and despite all odds, California passed the Tiered registry bill offering relief to many once lifetime registrants, including myself. Contacting the new state ahead of time to ask questions is not going to be enough as I learned from experience. Getting a letter in writing with the help of an attorney might be the best course of action. The use of a qualified attorney from your home state as well as a qualified attorney in the new state would be recommended for clarity on the matter. The new state registration office told me I would be classified solely based on my charges which may or may not have been an outright lie. Upon my arrival and a few months later however, I was sent a letter that revealed that I was designated for lifetime registration requirements due to my last state being a lifetime required State I was also told that until I was classified, I would be required to follow the requirements of a Tier 3 lifetime registrant which had stricter reporting requirements. Until 2021 and a motion for relieve being filed in court, my travel plans are limited primarily to the Golden State. I make no plans to permanently leave the state until after I find relief from the registry.

    If for some reason a new law or amendment passes to re-require lifetime registration after the current law takes effect, but before I find relief, I believe the state would be forced to give due process to ratchet me back up to a lifetime requirement. This is about the only concern I have at the moment. (Keeping in mind new requirements were placed on me for about 20 years without due process)

    RECAP: So in effect, contacting the registering office for legal advice is not recommended unless it’s for the purpose of getting something in writing which I doubt most people will get. The use of attorneys are highly recommended to be certain of what to expect. Also, consider communicating with others with experience registering in a new State.

    And be aware of pending laws in a new state as well. You don’t want to find yourself jumping from a bad situation to one that is far worse, or about to get far worse.

    SIDE NOTE: We are not as free as our Constitution guarantees. Nearly all democrats vying for power don’t care about our Constitution so keep in mind who you vote for as well, because Obama signed into law, the International Megan’s Law which effectively banished us from traveling freely outside the country. This is why I am now a registered republican. So far, i haven’t seen Republicans or conservatives trying to strip us of our rights afforded to us by our constitution. My new home state will be a red state, which certainly limits my options.

    • Tim from WI
      May 15, 2019 at 9:02 am

      I tend to agree with your perception the Rs are slightly better as they truly own yee plantation and grow tired of them that run the plantation Ds. Keep in mind the huge database in Utah, the one that site next to the Project Angel Watch is firmly in the hands of those that own that particular state of the union. Keep in mind the denominational make up of the Rehnquist court in the DOE decisions! As a result that bunch sitting atop the evangelical moral heap holding the electronic surveillance cache. Having exposed their main competitor, the Catholics who dominate the court historically, and it’s implications upon cannons of maintained sexual abstinence versus the reality of abuse occurring regularly among the flock.

      As far as moving into other states that option chilled dramatically as on spends more time dealing with regulations. Better to stand and fight in FTR.

    • May 15, 2019 at 10:37 am

      “California Registrant”,

      You have written a lot of stuff here, and quite frankly, some of your advice is bad advice.

      First, Not everyone has access to a lawyer, and even if they did, a sheet of paper pinky swearing they are telling you the truth isn’t going to change anything. Even you admit getting that would be difficult. It is easy to say things like “get an attorney” but a lot of folks don’t have a few hundred bucks to pay to get an attorney to get a sheet of paper. Calling the registration office is the best way of knowing how they will classify you. But laws change, local rules change, and just because one state or US Circuit makes a ruling against a certain law doesn’t mean the next state/ jurisdiction will come to the same conclusion. A state might rule it violates ex post facto but the next state over says the opposite.

      Also, smaller states lack an activist presence so who would they call? A random guy on the registry? And I can assure you, even the most dedicated activist doesn’t know every local ordinance. Even within a city like Cincinnati are suburbs with their own ordinances. About a year or so ago, the village of Golf Manor, a small independent town in Cincy, passed a residency law far exceeding the state’s laws, and it flew under the radar because if you Google Golf Manor, it is easy to see why.

      Here is the ordinance:

      Under state law, violating residency laws are civil penalties rather than criminal. The Golf Manor ordinance is a misdemeanor crime.

      I made NO guarantees that even after they do their research, they will have a smooth transition. But they key problem here is that each municipality has THEIR OWN local rules. Moving to a new state comes with risks. You are going by one person’s experience– YOUR OWN. My article is the result of HUNDREDS, if not THOUSANDS, of inquiries made by numerous registrants and their loved ones over the years, many of which moved and suffered negative consequences before doing their research.

      Based on your own comment, it seems you were one of the ones who moved to a new state before doing your research. Maybe you should have called and asked questions and perhaps you wouldn’t have been surprised by what you were told. Many states that aren’t AWA states do offense-based classifications. Why does that shock you?

      Basing all experiences based on one state is insufficient to have a discussion on all 50 states. While Cali & Oregon are moving to a 3 tiered system , NY is moving slowly the other way. Many states have lifetime requirements. I stated in the article many states simply pigeonhole you into whatever equivalent registration tier thy have. If you are a lifetime registrant in one state, there’s a huge chance you’ll be a lifetime registrant in the next state. You mileage may vary, but it helps to gather info beforehand.

      Never assume anything about reclassification. The act of registration IN ITSELF is entirely constitutional per Smith v Doe, and don’t expect a conservative court to undo this. If you get re-classified under California law to a lower status and then get bumped back up to a higher legislation, you better be thankful you live in a liberal state because that means liberal courts.

      Speaking of liberals and conservatives, you can’t honestly be serious about the Republican Party or conservatives not trying to strip us of our rights. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Who signed the Adam Walsh act? George W. Bush. Who introduced it? Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner. Most bad bills I post in the Shiitake Awards are Republican-sponsored. But, if you want to want to move to a “Red State”, try Florida. Try Alabama. Try North Carolina. Try Oklahoma. Try Louisiana. Try Georgia. Try Tennessee. I can tell you as bad as Cali has been, there is no “Liberal” state that could be compared to the reddest states.

      There isn’t that much difference between the DEMOCRAT and REPUBLICAN party, admittedly. Unlike other topics like a balanced budget, where Dems and Repubs have the same goal but different means to achieve them, with sex offender laws, Dems get their “justice for victims” and protection of women and children, while Repubs get their “tough on crime” and their “Moral Majority” regulations on sexuality. Thus, sex crime laws are “win-win” for both parties.

      Don’t confuse Political parties with political alignment. The American Democratic Party is still rather conservative in political alignment, while the Republican Party is reactionary on the political spectrum. We have few true liberals in America, generally conjured up as political bogeymen, much like those on the registry. This makes the biggest difference in our court system. Are you aware of the political alignment of SCOTUS? Are you aware that in the Smith v Doe (a 6-3 decision), the three justices that voted against the registry were all liberal justices? Ginsburg, Breyer, and Stevens all voted against the registry. Roberts, a conservative justice, represented the state of Alaska in that case.

      • caring
        May 15, 2019 at 3:52 pm

        Derek ~ I have never met you, but I am glad you are back on these boards as I know you had a recent scare. I know you are very busy, but I am hoping you could give me some pointers. We are in California, and my fiancee will be a Tier 1 with the new Tiered Registry, so he could get off in 2023. I know, its not automatic (it should be), but we are hopeful. So, let’s say, we want to move to Arizona, where is offense of Indecent Exposure is not subject to registration, could we move now and just get de-registered in CA, or do we have to wait for him to be removed and then move to AZ? We would like to move sooner rather than later, but we also don’t want to encounter harsher conditions by moving. He is not on the public website in CA, and his offense is not child related. Whenever you get a chance, please respond as you have so much more knowledge in the area than we ever will.

  4. Jim
    June 10, 2019 at 11:24 am

    My state, which is red, southern, and deeply religious ( or at least the politicians all claim to be) make life for offenders a suffocating and merciless existence, a life sentence in a fenceless prison. I would give anything to live in one of the greatly liberal states, where there could at least be hope for future improvement.

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