Missouri Sex Offender Laws

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Missouri Sex Offender Laws have many facets including sex offender tiers and registration, and they cover many crimes from sexting to rape. Read our complete guide to Missouri Sex Offender Laws here.


Missouri Sex Offender Laws

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The state of Missouri does not take sex offenses lightly. Missouri sex offender laws are designed to premanently affect the life of those convicted, and being designated as a sex offender in Missouri carries serious social stigmas and legal burdens which are certain to negatively impact the offender's life.

Most sex offender laws in the United States, including Missouri sex offender laws, were created in the 1980s and 1990s in response to a number of federal and state laws, including:

  • The Jacob Wetterling Act, which mandated a sex offender registry in every state

  • Megan's Law, which allowed states to make publicly available its sex offender registry

  • The Pam Lynchner Sexual Offender Tracking Law, which required sex offenders to remain on the registry for life and allowed law enforcement officials to track offenders

  • The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which enhanced national standards regarding state sex offender registries

If you have been charged with or accused of committing a sex offense, the stakes are high. Your best course of action would be to immediately contact a Missouri attorney who is highly experienced with sex offender cases, such as those at The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center.


Missouri Sex Offender Registration Crimes

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Under Missouri sex offender laws, all persons convicted of specific sex crime are required to register as sex offenders. Missouri Law Offenses Requiring Registration (589.400) lists the below stated offenses:

  • Sexual exploitation of a child

  • Promoting child pornography in the first and second degrees

  • Publicly displaying explicit sexual material

  • Coercion of others to accept obscene material

  • Possession of child pornography

  • Promoting prostitution offenses in the first, second, and third degrees

  • Promotion of obscenity in the first degree

  • Promotion of pornography for underage persons or second degree obscenity

  • Incest

  • Using children in a sexual performance

  • Promotion of a sexual performance by a child

  • Kidnapping a child by a non-parent or guardian under Section 565.110, RSMo

  • Sexually endangering child welfare

  • Felony restraint of a child by a non-parent or guardian

  • Sexual relations or sexual contact with a nursing home resident

  • Genital mutilation of a female child

  • Furnishing pornographic material to minors


Missouri Sex Offender Registration: Rights and Responsibilities

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Under Missouri sex offender laws, sex crimes, like other violent crimes, carry serious penalties. Anyone who is convicted of a sex crime could face incarceration, substantial fines, and/or probation. Furthermore, some defendants who are convicted of sex crimes are also required to register as sex offenders.

Here's what you need to know about sex offender registration in Missouri:

Who is Required to Register?

Registration as a sex offender is required for anyone who has pled guilty to or been convicted of a number of crimes, including rape, child molestation, sexual misconduct, kidnapping a child, sexual exploitation of a minor, possession of child pornography, sexual abuse of a child, and many more. Those who pled guilty or no contest to these crimes are also required to register as sex offenders.

When Must Sex Offenders Register?

If you are required to register as a sex offender, it's important to do so right away. Missouri sex offender laws require sex offenders to register within three days following a conviction or release from jail or prison. Additionally, sex offenders who are from out-of-state must register in Missouri within three days of moving here.

What Information Do Sex Offenders Need to Submit?

Sex offenders cannot register over the phone or online. They must meet face-to-face with the county sheriff department where they live. The deputy sheriff will ask for basic information such as the offender's name, Social Security number, nature of the offenses, home address, and birthdate. A physical description of each sex offender is also noted along with your photograph, which will be added to the website of sex offenders managed by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Under Missouri sex offender laws, sex offenders also need to provide a palm print, photograph, and DNA sample that law enforcement can keep on file. The deputy sheriff will need to see a driver's license and proof of residency as well. Finally, the deputy sheriff will ask each sex offender for identifying information used online, such as usernames or screen names. All of the information collected by the deputy sheriff is available to the public.

Are There Specific Rules That Sex Offenders Must Follow?

There are countless rules that sex offenders in Missouri must follow in order to avoid legal consequences. For example, some offenders are ordered to stay at least 500 feet away from school grounds. Sex offenders are also prohibited from engaging in many Halloween-related activities, such as handing out candy to trick-or-treaters.

Anyone who is a sex offender is also required to update the information listed on the registry as needed. In addition, the court can order sex offenders to make contact with the deputy sheriff and provide updated information every 90 days or six months. If nothing has changed, the sex offender will simply need to provide an up-to-date photograph.


Missouri Sex Offender Registry Removal

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A Missouri sex offender law was recently passed that allows certain sex offenders to remove their names from the state's sex offender registry. As a result of this Missouri sex offender law, many sex offenders are now eligible for removal from the registry for the first time. If you meet the criteria outlined in the new Missouri sex offender laws, it's important to begin the process of taking your name off of the list as soon as possible. Here's how to remove your name from the sex offender registry:

1. File A Petition: Work with an attorney to file a petition for removal in the division of the circuit court in the appropriate county or city. The court will immediately dismiss the petition if it does not contain the appropriate information, including your name, sex, race, date of birth, Social Security number, address, place of employment, offenses committed, date of registration, and case number. The petition must also include your fingerprints placed on a special card provided by the court.

2. Pay Fees: You will need to pay several fees during the process of petitioning for removal from the sex offender registry. This includes court fees for filing the petition in addition to fees related to the fingerprint-based criminal background check.

3. Give the Prosecuting Attorney Notice: It is your responsibility to notify the prosecuting attorney in the circuit court that you have filed a petition for removal from the sex offender registry. The court will automatically reject your petition if you fail to take this step. The attorney needs to be notified in case he would like to fight your removal from the registry. Prosecuting attorneys are allowed to present evidence to the court in an effort to convince the judge to deny your request. The attorney will also attempt to notify the victims of the crime, who are allowed to attend your hearings.

4. Wait For the Court's Decision: At this point, the court will need to review your petition and criminal records to determine if you qualify for removal. The court will also need to take the prosecution's argument-if one was presented-into consideration. If your petition is granted, the court will enter a judgment to remove your name and you will no longer be classified as a registered sex offender.

Are you a registered sex offender in Missouri? If so, contact The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center at the Benjamin Law Firm, LLC at once. Our experienced attorneys can help eligible offenders remove their names from the registry so they can finally get the fresh start they deserve.


Missouri Sexting Laws

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Most teenagers have cell phones, which has taken flirtation and dating to an entirely new level that is often illegal. Sexting, or sending and receiving nude or sexually explicit photographs via electronic means, can constitute child pornography. Engaging in sexting can cause teenagers to become subject to criminal prosecution for very serious charges. The consequences of a sex offense conviction can follow these young individuals around for the rest of their lives.

Under Missouri sex offender laws, any nude or sexually explicit picture of a child under the age of 18 constitutes child pornography. As a result, in certain circumstances, teenagers can be prosecuted on child pornography charges as a result of what they may consider to be innocent sexting. There are different statutes under both state and federal law that may lead to criminal charges for sexting.

For example, pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. § 573.037, it is illegal to knowingly or recklessly possess child pornography involving a minor under the age of 18 or obscene material portraying what appears to be a minor under the age of 18. Possessing one still image of child pornography is a Class D felony, but the offense becomes a Class B felony if the person:

  • Possesses more than 20 still images of child pornography or obscene still images,

  • Possesses one motion picture, film, videotape, or other moving image that is obscene or constitutes child pornography, or

  • Has a prior conviction for an offense under this section

A Class D felony conviction can result in up to seven years in prison, although a judge has the discretion to order less than one year in jail upon conviction, along with a maximum of $10,000 fine. A Class B felony conviction can result in a prison sentence ranging from five to 15 years.

Additionally, under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 573.040, if an individual possesses or distributes pornography to a minor to another and it is a first offense, it is a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in up to one year in jail, as well as a fine. For a second offense, the offense becomes a Class E felony, which can result in up to four years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.

However, once an individual reaches the age of 18 or older and they possess or distribute sexually explicit images of minors, the offense may become far more severe. These individuals are at risk for significant terms of incarceration if convicted, as well as mandatory sex offender registration. The penalties for this offense become even more severe if the adult persuades the minor to participate in the creation of sexually explicit images.

As a result, older teenagers easily can be at risk of prosecution for sexting with younger teenagers under Missouri sex offender laws. A 17-year-old can be prosecuted as an adult, and once he or she turns 18, possessing sexually explicit images of a 15- or 16-year-old can be construed as child pornography. This can lead to felony charges and mandatory sex offender registration in the event of a conviction, which can permanently alter the course of a young person's life. All sex-related criminal offenses can result in serious consequences.


Missouri Sex Offender Tier Levels

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Mandatory sex offender registration can place a heavy burden on those who already have served their sentences for certain sex-related offenses. Placement on the registry can impact your ability to get and maintain employment, as well as subject you to constant scrutiny by the public. Sex offender registration can make your life more difficult in countless ways, so the ability to be removed from the registry can be a big step toward improving your life.

Recent revisions to Missouri sex offender laws now provide for three different tiers of sex offender registration. Tier 1 offenders must report to their local law enforcement agency on an annual basis, and they can request removal from the list after a ten-year period has elapsed. Tier II offenders must report to local police every six months, and they can ask for removal after 25 years, and Tier III offenders remain on the list for life, with reporting required on a quarterly basis. To have their names removed from the sex offender registry, individuals must file a petition with the court in the jurisdiction in which their conviction occurred.

Prior to the recent revisions to Missouri's sex offender registry law, all individuals were required to register for life. The previous Missouri sex offender laws made no distinctions made between individuals who were convicted of public urination while intoxicated and those who committed rape; all offenders were placed into a single category that required them to report to their local police stations on a quarterly basis. It was also very rare that anyone was ever able to be removed from the registry, regardless of the circumstances. This draconian approach to the sex offender registry seriously penalized those who had committed only low-level, relatively minor offenses that caused no harm to others.

If you have questions about your registration requirements and whether you can seek removal from the sex offender registry, you will greatly benefit from the legal advice that you only can get from an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The criminal defense team at The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center has the skills and knowledge that will benefit you in handling your criminal charge. When you need clear answers to your legal questions, don't hesitate to contact our office.