What Happens if I Fail to Register as a Sex Offender?


Registration as a Sex Offender

If you have been convicted of a crime requiring Sex Offender Registration, then you will need to register as a Sex Offender pursuant to North Carolina Law. Registration can be required for a period of 30 years all the way to a lifetime. Registrants must remain on the registry for at least 10 years before they can petition the court for removal. Registration is with the sheriff of the county where the person resides.

For out-of-state residents, they must register either 1) within three days of establishing residency in NC or 2) within 15 days of arrival in NC, whichever comes first.

For in-state residents, registration is required within three business days of release from jail or prison, or immediately upon conviction if no imprisonment was imposed. Anyone required to register due to a conviction in another state is also required to maintain registration with the sheriff of the NC county in which they reside for work or for school.

At least 10 days before release from imprisonment, an official at the facility must inform a registrant of their duty to register and have them sign a written statement that they were informed. They must also obtain the address where the person intends to reside and send that information to the county sheriff.

All registrants must verify their information every year on the anniversary of their registration date and again 6 months after that. Verification forms will be sent to the last reported address of the registrant. The form must be returned in person to the sheriff within three business days after receipt of the form. The verification form will indicate any changes in the registrants information and if the registrant intends to reside at the current address. The sheriff must make reasonable attempts to verify that the person is living at the registered address.

Sheriffs use forms for registering persons required by law. Those forms include the following information about the registrant:

  • Identifying information such as full name, date of birth, sex, race, height, weight, eye color, hair color, driver’s license number, and address
  • The offense for which the person was convicted, the date of the conviction, and the sentence imposed
  • A current photograph taken by the sheriff at the time of registration
  • Fingerprints taken by the sheriff at the time of registration
  • If the registrant is a student then the name and address of the educational institution that they attend or plan to attend is required
  • If the registrant is employed at an institution of higher education then the name and address of the educational institution they work at is required
  • Any online identifier that the person uses or intends to use

The sheriff will hold on to the registration records and provide written proof of registration to any registrant. To register requires that the registrant report in person to the appropriate sheriff’s office to comply with the requirements.

How Can I Fail to Register?

Any person who willfully does the following things is guilty of a Class F felony:

  • Failing to register with the sheriff of the county in which the person lives as described above
  • Failing to notify the last registering sheriff of a change in address
  • Failing to return a verification notice
  • Forges or submits information under false pretenses
  • Fails to inform the registering sheriff of enrollment or termination as a student
  • Fails to inform the registering sheriff of employment or termination as an employee at an institution of higher education
  • Fails to report in person to the sheriff’s office when required for registration or verification
  • Reports the intent to reside in another state but remains in NC without reporting to the sheriff
  • Fails to notify the sheriff of out-of-county employment
  • Fails to inform the sheriff of any online identifiers

Any violation of these terms is non-negotiable, law enforcement shall arrest the offender immediately. However, anyone charged with failing to register who is incarcerated, who notifies the facility holding them that they are required to register, and who does so within 10 days of release would be in full compliance.

A class F felony is fairly serious. Every registrant on the sex offender list has a criminal history. Probation for a class F felony is reserved for those with lower record levels. That means someone who has a serious sex offense conviction or habitual felon status is usually facing an automatic sentence of imprisonment. For an F felony, that can mean up to 2 years behind bars. That is why it is essential that registrants do everything they can to comply.

What Can I Do if I Get Charged with Failing to Register?

If you have been charged with Failing to Register as a Sex Offender, our attorneys can help you fight the charge. While prosecutors and law enforcement often see these types of charges as open and shut, they usually fail to see all of the issues involved in prosecuting them. Proving someone failed to register is not as easy as just testifying that they failed to return a form. In most cases, the sheriff needs to make reasonable efforts to ascertain whether the registrant is living on the property. That may involve several visits to speak with other people who live there. Those people may never come to court, giving your attorney room to argue against your charges. There are similar proof-related issues when it comes to the forms that the sheriff sends to each registrant.

Are you or someone you love charged with Failing to Register as a Sex Offender? Our experienced attorneys can help them fight these charges. Call (704) 931-5535 today!