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This information can be downloaded from this page in PDF format. Single printed copies are also available by request via e-mail: oag@oag.state.md.us or telephone: (410) 576-6300 or 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free in Maryland

   

UNDERSTANDING AND USING THE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY

A. WHAT IS THE REGISTRY?

Maryland law requires that sex offenders, if they are going to live, work, or attend school in the State, must register with state or local authorities upon their release from incarceration, once a year thereafter, and when they change their place of residence. The registry classifies sex offenders into four categories:

  1. sexually violent predators,
  2. sexually violent offenders,
  3. child sexual offenders; and
  4. offenders. The most serious offenders, which are the majority of offenders in the first three categories, must register for life, and the rest must do so for ten years.

An offender’s registration statement includes his name and address; photograph and fingerprints; a description of his crime; where and when he committed the crime, was convicted, and was released; his social security number; and for non-resident offenders, where he works or attends school.

B. HOW CAN I USE IT?

The most efficient way to find out about sex offenders in your area is to access the registry online at www.dpscs.state.md.us, and then click on “Sex Offender Registry” under “Online Services.” The online registry allows you to search by offender name or by zip code. It does not provide all of the information available from an offender’s registration statement, but it provides an offender’s name, address, photograph, the crime for which he was charged, his offender category, and the number of the local law enforcement unit you may call to provide any information you may have about the offender.

For more information or if you do not have access to a computer, you may also request a copy of the registration statement from the State Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Sex Offender Registry Unit. You may send your written request by mail, email or fax. You must state your full name, mailing address, your reason for wanting the information, and the registrant’s name, address and/or date of birth.

The mailing address is Sexual Offender Registry Unit, P.O. Box 5743, Pikesville, MD 21282-5473. The fax number is 410-653-5690, and the email address is sor@dpscs.state.md.us. Specific instructions on how to make a request are on the Sex Offender Registry website under “Registration Statements.”


C. WHAT DO THE OFFENDERS’ CRIMES MEAN IN PLAIN LANGUAGE?

The registry lists the offender’s crime and offender category. The crimes are most often described in legal language which may leave you confused about what an offender actually did. The following is a glossary of terms translated loosely into plain language:

Sexual predator: offender who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense and has been deemed by a court likely to do it again.

Sexually violent offender: offender who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense.

Sexually violent offense: 1st or 2nd degree rape or attempted rape; 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree sexual offense.

1st degree rape: Vaginal intercourse by force or threat of force, along with an aggravating factor, like causing or putting in fear of serious physical injury or disfigurement, suffocating, kidnapping, etc.

2nd degree rape: Vaginal intercourse by force or threat of force, or with mentally disabled victim, or with victim under 14 and perpetrator 4 years older.

1st degree sexual offense: Sexual act by force or threat of force, along with an aggravating factor, like causing or putting in fear of serious physical injury or disfigurement, suffocating, kidnapping, etc. Sexual act is oral sex, anal sex, or penetration by an object, but does not include vaginal intercourse.

2nd degree sexual offense: Sexual act by force or threat of force, or with mentally disabled victim, or with victim under 14 and perpetrator 4 years older. Sexual act is oral sex, anal sex, or penetration by an object, but does not include vaginal intercourse.

3rd degree sexual offense: Sexual contact without the consent of the victim, along with an aggravating factor, like causing or putting in fear of serious physical injury or disfigurement, suffocating, kidnapping, etc. Sexual contact is intentionally touching genitalia, the anus or other intimate area. It includes penetration by a part of the body except the penis or mouth.

Also includes sexual contact with mentally disabled victim, victim under age 14 and perpetrator 4 years older, a sexual act with victim 14 or 15 and perpetrator 21, vaginal intercourse with victim 14 or 15 and perpetrator 21.

4th degree sexual offense: Not considered a sexually violent offense. Sexual contact without consent of victim, sexual act with victim 14 or 15 and perpetrator 4 years older; vaginal intercourse with victim 14 or 15 and perpetrator 4 years older. Sexual contact is intentionally touching genitalia, the anus or other intimate area. It includes penetration by a part of the body except the penis or mouth.

Child Sexual Offender: An offender who has been convicted of any of the above offenses with a victim less than 15 years old, i.e., any sexually violent offense (1st or 2nd degree rape; 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree sexual offense), or a 4th degree sexual offense. Also includes offenders convicted of sexual abuse of a minor who is a family member or living in the household.

Offender: An offender who has been convicted of certain other offenses related to sexual offending, like kidnapping or false imprisonment of a minor, violations of the child pornography and prostitution laws, etc.

D. USING THE REGISTRY TO ASSIST IN THE SUPERVISION OF CONVICTED OFFENDERS, AND WHAT NOT TO DO - THE DANGERS OF HARASSMENT AND OSTRACISM

Except for the most dangerous offenders, the vast majority of convicted sex offenders eventually leave prison and return to live in our communities. Given that inescapable fact, it is in the best interest of community safety that they become successful, integrated members of their communities. Those offenders who are able to find and maintain adequate housing, become gainfully employed, and establish connections to others in the community are far less likely to reoffend, and everyone is safer as a result.

Thus, while everyone should take care to protect themselves and their children from vulnerable situations involving known offenders, no one should try to harass, ostracize, shame or brand them. Harassment is against the law, and these kinds of activities also decrease the likelihood that an offender will become an integrated and productive member of the community.

At the same time, as members of your community, you can help make sure an offender does not engage in activities that could lead to his reoffending. People who live and work around an offender are in a better position to know if he is exhibiting troubling behavior than are law enforcement and parole agents who can only check in with offenders periodically. Thus, if you see a child sex offender engaging in any behavior which concerns you, like loitering around playgrounds or befriending neighborhood teens, you should report the activity to the local law enforcement authority listed on the registry. Community supervision is an important component of successful sex offender management.

 

 

Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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