Sex Offender Search: Frequently Asked Questions

In this day and age, it seems that even the most trusted individual can be charged and convicted of sexual abuse of children. Whether it’s Coach Sandusky from Penn State or Jared “The Subway Guy” Fogle, parents must remain vigilant.  Thankfully, federal law has required sex offender registries to be created and made available to the public.  In this post, we address many frequently asked questions regarding sex offender searches.

Q. Why Should I Conduct A Sex Offender Search Before I Hire a Nanny/Caregiver?
A.
Hiring a nanny or a caregiver is equivalent to giving a stranger access to your personal property, assets, and most importantly your loved ones. Thus, conducting a sex offender search is a simple act to prevent putting your loved ones in danger.

Q. How Do I Conduct A Sex Offender Database Search?
A. You can conduct your own search by visiting the National Sex Offender Public Registry, which is run by the US Department of Justice.

Q. Is a Sex Offender Search Enough to Keep My Loved Ones Safe?
A. Unfortunately, no single method is full proof and it is best to use multiple approaches.  While the national sex offender registry is a great tool, the information is furnished by individual states /jurisdictions.  Each state will have their own laws that determine how sex offender information is collected, maintained, and displayed.  For example, some states provider offenders the ability to petition to be removed from the registry, such as California where you can be removed even though you may have been convicted of Penal Code 647.6 Annoying or Molesting a Child.

And while sexual abuse is clearly an important tragedy to avoid, caregivers can be convicted of other offenses that can endanger your loved ones, such as fraud, assault, or animal cruelty.  While many of these would show up on a criminal background check report, an individual would generally not show up on a sex offender registry unless it is a crime that is sexual in nature.  In fact, the Association of Premier Nanny Associations (“APNA”) recommends a number of critical components be included in a background check beyond a sex offender search which can be found here.  Caregivercheck.com’s Standard Package meets the APNA criteria and the package details can be found here.

Finally, education for both the parent and the child is critical. We recommend visiting our Resources Page, which has numerous websites and resources on both Child Safety and Elder Abuse.

Q. How Long Is Someone On the Registry?
A. Since each state/jurisdiction has its own laws, the length of time someone must remain on the registry can vary.  Illinois generally has a registration period of 10 years.  In NY, Level 1 offenders (low risk) must register for 20 years, unless they have a designation (e.g. sexual predator or sexually violent offender) in which case they must register for life.  You will need to check with each state’s registry.  Most have their own FAQs to help you navigate.

Q. What Happens if an Offender Move From State to State?
A. Generally, he or she must provide written notice of relocation to local police within a narrow window of time.  In Maine, it’s just 24 hours after moving to notify law enforcement of your relocation and new address while in other states it may be 3-7 days.  And since not all offenders will comply, it’s important to check prior states’ registries.

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