SORNA: An Abridged Legal Analysis of 18 U.S.C. § 2250 (Failure to Register as a Sex Offender) [Updated November 5, 2021]   [open pdf - 1MB]

From the Introduction: "Federal law punishes convicted sex offenders if they fail to register or to update their registration as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) demands. The basic offense under Section 2250(a) consists of three elements: (1) a continuing obligation to report to the authorities in any jurisdiction in which the individual resides, works, or attends school; (2) the knowing failure to comply with registration requirements; and (3) a jurisdictional element, i.e., (a) an obligation to register as a consequence of a prior qualifying federal conviction or (b)(i) travel in interstate or foreign commerce, or (ii) travel into or out of Indian Country, or (c) residence in Indian Country. Violators face imprisonment for not more than 10 years. The registration offense carries an additional penalty of imprisonment for not more than 30 years, but not less than 5 years, if the offender is also guilty of a federal crime of violence. Federal law also punishes overseas travel coupled with a failure to register that intent. The elements of this shadow or supplemental offense, Section 2250(b), are: (1) an obligation to register; (2) a knowing failure to report an intent to travel internationally; and (3) engaging in or attempting to engage in international travel. The affirmative defense and sentencing provisions are the same as those that apply to the original offense. The Justice Department indicates that 18 states, 4 territories, and numerous tribes are now in substantial compliance with the 2006 legislation."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R42691
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html
Media Type:
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