What Are the Three Risk Category Classifications of Sexual Offenders?


When most people hear the term "sex offender," their immediate thought goes to the violent rapist or the pedophile, but the truth of sex crimes is that they run the gamut from the man who urinates in public or masturbates in a porn theater to the cannibalistic serial child rapist. Punishing them equally would be unjust. As such, sex offenders in most states have been classified into three felony categories, which require most offenders to register their addresses and workplace information on statewide or nationwide sex offender registrars.

Class 1 Sex Offender

  • While each state decides for itself which sexual offenses constitute levels 1, 2 and 3 sex offenses, Level 1 sex offenses tend to be nondangerous offenses such as urinating in public, flashing breasts in a bar or sporting event, hiring a prostitute and masturbation in a porn theater. These tend to be semi-victimless crimes that the state deems as disturbing the peace in a sexual way. Additionally, this level of sex offense can include crimes of intent such as kidnapping with intent to molest or burglary with the intent to commit a sexual offense. This class might also include peeping Toms, and possession of unlawful pornography. In some, but not all cases, Level 1 offenders may be required to register as sex offenders, but generally Level 1 offenses come with a time limit on registration.

Class 2 Sex Offender

  • Class 2 sex offenders tend to be nonviolent offenders, but are considered likely to repeat their behavior when released. As such, upon release, most Level 2 offenders are required to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. These sorts of offenses tend to include crimes such as enticing a child older than 12, sodomy or sexual contact with a child older than 12, incest, bestiality and prostitution. Level 2 sex offenders are the most common sorts of sex offenders. These tend to include the trusted friend who entices his victims into sexual activity as opposed to the burglar who sneaks into a home, steals a child and rapes her.

Class 3 Sex Offender

  • The most feared sex offender is the Level 3 offender. This is a violent offender who uses strength rather than coercion to victimize their prey. This is the sort of offender who kidnaps, rapes and kills his victims. This is the serial rapist, the rapist who rapes a child under the age of 12, the murderer, and the criminal who uses weapons to enforce his will. In most cases, such offenders are sentenced to long prison terms, and those released are given the most stringent conditions of release, including a lifetime on the sex offender registry no matter their location.

Other Classifications

  • Some municipalities use a lettered system rather than a numbered system for classifying sexual offenses. Such municipalities classify the worst offenders as class A. and the so-called minor offenses as class C. Washington, D.C., is among municipalities using the letter system.

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