Sex Offender Registration in Connecticut

By Cody N. Guarnieri, Esq.

The sex offender registration laws in Connecticut are often shrouded in mystery for those who are facing criminal prosecution. Will I have to register? For how long? How will registration affect my life? How much weight should sex offender registration requirements be given in making a decision whether to accept a plea offer or go to trial? Is it part of an actual sentence? Is it negotiable with the State's Attorney? This brief article endeavors to answer some of these common questions by taking a look at the sex offender registration laws in Connecticut.

"Sex offender registration" means providing personal and identifying information (including an address, email, internet identifiers, photograph, and fingerprints, among others information) to the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (i.e. the Connecticut State Police) for a certain period of time. Registration only applies to individuals released into the community; those who are incarcerated need to register until their release.

In Connecticut, there are three categories of individuals who, if convicted (or acquitted by reason of mental disease or defect) would face sex offender registration. Those categories are:

  1. Those convicted of criminal offense(s) against a minor, which requires a ten (10) year period of registration for a first offenses and lifetime for a subsequent offense;
  2. Those convicted of nonviolent sexual offenses, which requires a ten (10) year period of registration for a first offenses and lifetime for a subsequent offense;
  3. Those convicted of sexually violent offenses, which require lifetime registration.

In addition to these required registration provisions, there is an additional fourth category of individuals for whom the court has the discretion whether to impose a period of registration for ten (10) years:

  • 4. Those convicted of a felony which the court finds was committed for a sexual purpose (meaning with the purpose to engage in sexual contact or sexual intercourse with another person without that person's consent).

Thus, an important take-away is that the crime accused itself, the specific violation of the Connecticut General Statutes, is not always necessarily determinative of the need to register or length of the same. It is the conduct that is determinative, and that is why there may be room for experienced criminal defense counsel to negotiate with the State when circumstances merit it.

Notwithstanding, there are a number of criminal violations that would be considered determinative of the need to register under the first three categories above. For example, a conviction for Risk of Injury to a Minor by contact with the intimate parts of someone under the age of 16, in violation of Connecticut General Statutes, Section 53-21(a)(1), will always be a crime against a minor for registration purposes. First degree sexual assault will always be a violent sexual offense for registration periods. That is because the conduct that supports the conviction must be similarly qualifying under the registration statute by its very nature.

Where the statutes above require registration for your conviction, the court has no authority to remove or release someone from the obligation early. Therefore, it is important that anyone who faces the possibility of sex offender registration be fully aware of that collateral consequence and work with competent counsel to decide how that fact impacts your overall defense strategy. At Brown, Paindiris & Scott, LLP, we have a long history of working with individuals accused of sexual offenses and crimes against minors. Let us help you find the most favorable possible resolution that is available for you.