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Notifying about change of address crucial step for sex offenders

While the following story did not occur here in Ocean County, New Jersey, the circumstances of it merit some discussion.

A 39-year-old man, who is a registered sex offender, was arrested recently for not updating his current address and for residing in an "unlivable" trailer home that "wasn't up to code." Sex offenders have to register their address with the proper authorities within a certain amount of time of a move -- otherwise, they are in violation of the law. This step is often forgotten, merely by mistake, by some people who are on the registry -- people who are really trying to turn their lives around. The resulting consequences of failing to notify a change of address can be devastating.

There are some other crucial criminal defense aspects to consider here, and the first is that the 39-year-old was likely in a situation that many sex offenders all across the country face: they can't find a place to live. Obviously, not many people are going to sympathize with their plight. But many registered sex offenders are decent people who are trying to turn their lives around. They are working hard to be better people -- and in most cases, they are ostracizied by neighborhoods and communities. Combine this with the guarded areas that sex offenders are barred from approaching (parks and schools, for example), and finding a suitable living situation is very difficult for these people.

Another important criminal defense element to this story is the standard of living that sex offenders must maintain. Again, this can difficult to uphold, given the prejudice (fairly or unfairly) that they face.

Source: Watertown Daily Times, "Lisbon sex offender charged for failure to register address," W.T. Eckert, July 25, 2013

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