Sex Offender Registration FAQ
What is Sex Offender Registration?
In 2000, the District of Columbia City Council passed the Sex Offender Registration [PDF] law. This law requires a person convicted, or found not guilty by reason of insanity, of a registration-required offense to register with the District of Columbia, provided the individual lives, works, or attends school here. Generally speaking, an offense requiring registration is a felony sexual assault (regardless of the age of the victim); an offense involving sexual abuse or exploitation of minors; or sexual abuse of wards, patients, or clients. The Court Services and Offender Supervisory Agency (CSOSA) will complete the initial registration. Other District agencies also have the responsibility to notify either CSOSA or MPD about sex offenders. These agencies include the Department of Corrections, Forensic and Mental Health Unit of St. Elizabeth's Hospital, and the District of Columbia SuperiorCourt.
What does the Sex Offender Registry do?
With the passing of the Sex Offender Registration [PDF] law, the Metropolitan Police Department now has the opportunity to share information regarding a sex offender's residence, business, or school address. We can also share information relating to the offense of conviction(s) that required his/her registration. This information is provided to you in accordance with District of Columbia law in cooperation with the various criminal justice agencies responsible for the monitoring of registered sex offenders.
What is community notification all about?
Community notification is providing information to the community about convicted sex offenders who have been placed on probation or parole or released from jail or prison and are now living, working, or attending school in the community. This information will enable you to make appropriate decisions about whether you want to associate with them or entrust your children to them.
How can I learn if a person is listed in the Sex Offender Registry?
Sex offenders will be classified as an A, B or C offender. In addition to this site, community members can visit any police station and inspect a public registry that will contain current information on all registered sex offenders in the District of Columbia (list of locations that have a complete list of Class A, B and C offenders). Our website lists Class A and B offenders only.
How can I learn if a sex offender has moved into my neighborhood?
By attending the regular PSA, CAC, and ANC meetings at your district, you can learn updated information on new registrants. In addition, you can stop by any DC Police District and check the open Sex Offender Registry for the latest information on neighborhood sex offenders. We will also update our website when we learn of new or additional information.
Why is the sex offender moving into my area?
Most sex offenders will return to the area in which they lived in before being convicted of the sex offense. Sometimes, sex offenders are released to another jurisdiction to obtain treatment, to beclose to a family support network, or to work in the area.
The Metropolitan Police Department does not have the authority to direct where a sex offender may live, work, or attend school. Unless the Courts have placed specific restrictions on the offender's release, he/she has a right to live wherever he/she chooses.
If the sex offender is so dangerous, why are you letting him/her out in the first place?
Not all sex offenders are sentenced to jail or prison. Almost all sex offenders who are sentenced to jail or prison are released. The availability of "life without parole" is relatively recent and applies only to first degree sexual abuse and first degree child sexual abuse when there are aggravating circumstances. This means that sex offenders—like other offenders—on probation or parole or who have finished their sentence will be living, working, and attending school in this community.
The District of Columbia's sex offender registration and community notification system provides factual information on convicted sex offenders in this community. The purpose of this information is not to punish or stigmatize sex offenders, but rather to provide factual information that will allow adults in this community to make more informed decisions about whom they associate with or entrust their children to. Consequently, this website includes information about people who have been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of the most serious sex offenses, of more than one sex offense, of a sex offense against a minor (someone under 18 years of age), or of a sex offense against a ward or patient, as well as people who have been determined to be sexual psychopaths. Information on people who have committed other sex offenses for which they are required to register is available at police stations.
Convicted sex offenders who had finished their sentences and were completely out of the criminal justice system when the Sex Offender Registration Act went into effect are generally NOT required to register. Of course, persons who have committed a sex offense but who have not been caught or convicted are also not required to register. The names of, and other information on, these unregistered sex offenders are NOT available on this website or at police stations.
Can we chase the sex offender out of the community?
No. You should not confront or harass a sex offender living in your neighborhood. The Sex Offender Registration [PDF] law emphasizes that anyone who uses the information in the sex offender registry to commit a crime against a sex offender will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
What limits are imposed on a person who obtains information about an offender?
MPD presumes that information from the Registry will be used responsibly to promote public safety. Persons or organizations receiving information may disseminate it to others at their discretion. The information may not be used to commit a crime against a person listed in the Registry or to engage in illegal discrimination or harassment against such a person.
What happens if a sex offender fails to register?
Failure to register is a crime. The first violation conviction is a misdemeanor offense. A conviction of a second violation is a felony offense.
Now that I know a sex offender lives in my neighborhood, what should I do to protect my family and myself?
Open communications between parents and children are vital components of family safety. If you decide that you do not want your children to associate with someone in this registry, you can tell your children that this person has hurt someone before. Explain to them that they must stay away from this individual. Review safety tips with your children and be aware of common lures. Remember, the purpose of community notification is to reduce the chance of future victimization of persons by this offender. Knowledge of the sex offender should assist you and your family in avoiding the sex offender and becoming a victim. See safety tips.
What do I tell my children about this offender?
Avoid scary details about the offense committed by the sex offender. Your children do not need to know as much as you know about the offender. Keep the information general so that your children will avoid anyone who may try to harm them. Explain to them the importance of avoiding dangerous situations in general rather than trying to teach them how to be safe from just one person.
What are some basic Do's and Don'ts for children?
You may want to advise your children about a sex offender in the neighborhood, or any stranger, for that matter, using the following guidelines:
- Don't accept a ride from this person (the sex offender) or any strangers.
- Don't go into the home or yard of this person.
- Don't help the person look for a puppy or kitten.
- Do tell your parents if this person offers you toys, money, gifts, rides, or other stuff.
- Do try to use the buddy system when you play outdoors.
- Do call 911 immediately if this person approaches you and your parents are not home.
Whom do I contact if I have more questions?
If you have additional questions about a sex offender in your neighborhood, or sex offenders in general, you may contact the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency or the Metropolitan Police Department, Sex Offender Registration Unit (SORU):
Metropolitan Police Department
Sex Offender Registry Unit (SORU)
300 Indiana Avenue, NW
Phone: (202) 727-4407
Fax: (202) 727-9292
In accordance with enactment of the Sex Offender Registration Act of 1999, this information is being provided to the community.
Unlawful use of this information to threaten, intimidate, harass, or injure a registered sex offender is prohibited and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Funding for this program was provided through a grant from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice. The title of this grant is the National Sex Offender Registry Project (98-NR-CX-K002).