U.S. flag

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

Case Law Summary

Sex Offender Registration and Notification in the United States
Download Case Law Summary

II. Locally Enacted Sex Offender Requirements

A. Residency Restrictions / Public Park Bans

SORNA does not place limitations on where sex offenders may live, locations they may visit or congregate, or on activities they may do; however, jurisdictions are free to do so and many such restrictions exist.[145] Typically, these restrictions prohibit sex offenders from loitering or living within a certain distance of schools, day care centers, public parks, and/or other areas where children frequently visit. Although primarily passed and enforced at the local level, these restrictions have also been passed at the state level.[146] Many of the same challenges that are raised with respect to other aspects of sex offender registration and notification laws have also been raised with respect to residency restrictions,[147] including alleged violations of the First Amendment,[148] Fifth Amendment,[149] Sixth Amendment,[150] Eighth Amendment,[151] due process,[152] equal protection,[153] Bill of Attainder Clause,[154] and ex post facto laws.[155] Residency restrictions have also been challenged for being too vague,[156] for conflicting with state law,[157] and for violating state constitutional provisions,[158] among other things.[159]

B. Employment Restrictions

SORNA does not limit where, or in what profession, sex offenders may work.[160] However, many jurisdictions have enacted laws that prohibit sex offenders from working in certain professions or at certain locations.[161] Additionally, there may be other ramifications on an offender’s employment when he or she is convicted of a sex offense or required to register as a sex offender.[162]

C. Risk Assessment

SORNA does not address the use of risk assessment for registration or notification purposes. However, many jurisdictions use risk assessment processes for a variety of purposes, including determining whether offenders have a duty to register and/or the duration and reporting frequency of sex offenders’ registration requirements,[163] establishing supervision intensity,[164] and determining the level and method of community notification for registered sex offenders.[165] SORNA does not preclude the use of risk assessment to enhance registration requirements or for community notification, supervision, or treatment purposes.