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Bill may lessen sex offender registry law

All people convicted of a sexual offense in Arizona must register with the state's sex offender registry. A bill was recently introduced that may grant eligibility for more people convicted of sex crimes to have their names removed from the registry. But, some criminal justice reform advocates claim that it may present obstacles for removal.

Now, the law contains almost no exclusions. Anyone convicted of sexual contact with a minor who is at least 15-years-old can ask a court for removal from the registry if they meet certain requirements. The contact had to be consensual, the offender could not be over 22-years-old when the offense occurred and the offender could not violate probation or commit another sex-related felony offense.

The proposal, House Bill 2613, would slightly expand eligibility for removal. The offender would need to be at least 35-years-old and could not be convicted of more than one offense involving more than one victim. Offenders may be eligible if they did not commit a sex crime for at least 10 years.

Numerous offenses would make offenders ineligible for removal. These include: sexual assault, child molestation, child prostitution, child sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of minors. Offenders who are deemed by a court as being sexual violent would continue to be ineligible for removal.

Reform advocates claim that the age requirement of 35-years-old is a problem because they must be no older than 22-years-old at the time of the offense. Many times, the offenders were 18 or 19-years-old when they were charged for offenses when they were minors.

Additionally, the bill adds few people to the list of offenders who can be removed from the registry. Offenders may be ineligible because of how their crime was charged. For example, the bill applies to offenders convicted of crimes involving law enforcement or falsely posing as teenagers. However, these offenders may be charged under child trafficking laws, which would make them ineligible for removal. Teenagers engaged in texting would be ineligible if they are charged with sexual exploitation of minors.

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