The Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART) tracks state and federal case law about sex offender registration and notification. This summary is current through July 2022 and addresses the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), including SORNA’s requirements, and provides information about case law impacting state and federal sex offender registration and notification laws across the country. It is provided as an overview and identifies areas of law that impact sex offender registration and notification and that have been subject to litigation.
Section I of this overview summarizes the requirements under SORNA, including who is required to register, what registration requires, where registration is required, and when registration is required. Section I also covers public registry website requirements and community notification, registration in Indian Country, and federal incarceration. This section also covers reduction of registration periods and failure to register.
Section II of this overview summarizes locally enacted sex offender requirements, including residency restrictions, employment restrictions, and risk assessment practices.
Section III summarizes legal challenges, including challenges under the U.S. and state constitutions, and under federal law.
Disclaimer: This summary is for informational purposes and is not intended to provide legal advice to any individual or entity. The U.S. Department of Justice makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the contents of this summary nor is this information intended to provide legal advice or purport to represent the legal position and/or argument(s) of the U.S. Department of Justice on these cases, or any related matter. The U.S. Department of Justice expressly disclaims liability for any errors and omissions in the contents of this summary. Practitioners are advised to conduct their own research to confirm that they are using the most current information available and applicable in their jurisdiction.
 SORNA was enacted as part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, Pub. L. 109-248, 120 Stat. 587 (codified as amended at 34 U.S.C. §§ 20901-20991) (hereinafter Adam Walsh Act). Since 2006, several bills have added to SORNA’s provisions, including the Keeping the Internet Devoid of Predators Act of 2008 (KIDS Act), Pub. L. 110-400, 122 Stat. 4224; the Military Sex Offender Reporting Act of 2015, Pub. L. 114-22, 129 Stat. 258 (hereinafter MSORA); and International Megan’s Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders, Pub. L. 114-119, 130 Stat. 15 (2016) (hereinafter IML). Additionally, the Department of Justice has issued three sets of guidelines and two rules to assist with the interpretation and implementation of SORNA. For more information on SORNA and other related legislation, see SMART's SORNA, Current Law page.
Access previous case law updates and summaries below:
- March 2019: Sex Offender Registration and Notification in the United States: Current Case Law and Issues, March 2019
- March 2018: Sex Offender Registration and Notification in the United States: Current Case Law and Issues, March 2018
- December 2016: Sex Offender Registration and Notification in the United States: Current Case Law and Issues, December 2016
- December 2015: Sex Offender Registration and Notification in the United States: Current Case Law and Issues, December 2015
- August 2013: Sex Offender Registration and Notification in the United States: Current Case Law and Issues, August 2013
- July 2012: Sex Offender Registration and Notification in the United States: Current Case Law and Issues, July 2012
- July 2009: Sex Offender Registration and Notification Case Law Summary, January 2008 - July 2009