SORNA: Clarification of Registration Jurisdictional Issues | Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART)
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SORNA: Clarification of Registration Jurisdictional Issues

Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), requires that sex offenders register in any jurisdiction where they live, work or go to school (see 34 U.S.C. § 20913 (a)).

There are a number of Indian tribes that are SORNA registration jurisdictions and, in some instances, the geographical apportionment of tribal lands has raised questions about where an offender must register. For example, some tribal lands are arranged in a patchwork with state or county land. In such instances, a tribe is responsible for registration functions on land subject to its law enforcement jurisdiction, and a state is responsible for registration functions on land subject to its law enforcement jurisdiction.

Sex offenders must initially register in the jurisdiction of conviction. Thereafter, they must register where they live, work or go to school. It is possible that a sex offender will have to register in multiple registration jurisdictions. For example, if a sex offender lives in Washington, D.C., works in Virginia and goes to school in Maryland, he or she will have to register with officials in each of these jurisdictions and keep his or her registration current in each. Similarly, a sex offender may work in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and live in the Pueblo of Laguna. He or she would thus have to register with officials in both New Mexico and the Pueblo of Laguna. In this instance, if the offender stops working in Albuquerque and takes up employment at the Pueblo of Laguna, he or she will have to notify the New Mexico authorities of the termination of his or her employment in Albuquerque and notify the Pueblo of Laguna that he or she now works in the Pueblo of Laguna.

A sex offender may also reside, be employed and go to school exclusively in a tribal jurisdiction. If so, SORNA only requires that the offender register with the tribal jurisdiction. However, there is no requirement that a state/tribe where the offender previously was registered must remove this offender from the registry once he or she is no longer required to register in that particular jurisdiction. This is true for all jurisdictions; thus, a tribal jurisdiction may keep on its tribal registry an offender who was originally registered with the tribe, but now resides, works and goes to school exclusively in a state jurisdiction.

Jurisdictions should contact the SMART Office with any questions about where an offender should be registered.

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