What Types of Crimes Are Put on a Sex Offender List?


Sex offenses are classified as misdemeanors and felonies and are required to be registered under Megan's Law in every state and U.S. territory. Exact definition of the crimes vary slightly by state; however, the same registration requirements remain intact. Convicted sex offenders must register their home residences and work locations and keep the information updated with each change.


  • Sexual misconduct, forcible touching and indecent exposure are considered misdemeanor offenses in some states where children are not involved. Though the nature of the crimes may not be severe, offenders must register due to the sexual nature of the crime. Misdemeanor sex crimes are only applicable where an adult is the victim. In cases where a child is the victim, the crime will be considered a felony.


  • Crimes involving possessing, advertising, sending or selling of obscene materials depicting minors must be registered. Promoting or advocating a sexual performance by a child is also considered a felony obscenity offense, and the convicted criminal must be registered. In some states the obscenity laws are divided based on the age of the victim as well as by what the criminal was doing in relation to the offense.


  • Luring a child into a vehicle or structure, kidnapping with the intent to commit sexual acts and holding an individual against his will for the purpose of obtaining sexual acts from the victim are all offenses that must be registered. These offenses are typically further defined by victim age, whether or not ransom was asked for and whether or not the victim was lured via phone or Internet.

Forced Sexual Acts

  • Forcing a victim to commit oral sex, penetration or other sexual acts are considered felonies, and the convicted criminal must register with the state's sex offender registry. Forced sexual acts include using fear, coercion, threats or drugs and alcohol to obtain the sexual acts from the victim. If the victim is not conscious or incapable of giving consent while the acts are performed, they are still considered forcible, and registration is required. These crimes may further be broken down into the degree of the offense and by the type of penetration.

Violent Sexual Crimes

  • Sexual battery, forced penetration with foreign objects, incest and continuous abuse of the victim are all violent offenses that must be registered. Offenses may be listed as aggravated, ritualized, sadomasochistic or by first through third degree. In most instances, violent sexual crimes are stacked with other offenses due to the nature of the crimes. In order to commit the violence, the offender must commit other crimes, such as restraining the victim.

Other Offenses

  • Traveling to meet a minor child for the purpose of sexual acts, exploitation of children, trafficking sex or prostitution-related offenses must also be registered. Possession or dissemination of child pornography via electronic sources including cell phones, email or the Internet are punishable offenses that must be registered. Offenders who have been convicted in any state and then move to another state must register under the new state's laws for the same time period as required by their original sentence.


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