U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Sex Offender Registration and Notification in the United States: Current Case Law and Issues, March 2018

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2018
32 pages

This reference book provides updated and accurate information as of March 2018 on the statutes, regulations, and laws that address sex offender registration and notification in the United States, including current case law and issues.


An overview of U.S. sex offender registration notes that sex offender registration is conducted at the local level. Generally, sex offenders in the United States are required to register with law enforcement in each state, locality, territory, or tribe where they live, work, or attend school. Every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, the five principal U.S; territories, and just over 125 federally recognized Indian tribes have their own sex offender registration and notification system. Each one of these systems has its own distinct features. The U.S. Congress has enacted various measures that set "minimum standards" for jurisdictions to implement in their sex offender registration or notification systems. The current set of standards - the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) - was enacted in 2006. Jurisdictions connect their public sex offender registries to the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW), which is administered by the federal Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART Office). Federal databases are used by law enforcement agencies across the country to access accurate information about registered sex offenders, which is provided by registering agencies and other law enforcement entities. Other major sections of this reference material provide information on who is required to register, the registration of juvenile offenders, military registration, retroactive application and ex post facto considerations, other constitutional issues, sex offender registration and notification in Indian Country, failure to register, and residency restrictions.

Date Published: March 1, 2018