An overview at what constitutes a sex offender and the different levels and types of offenses

“A sex offender is defined as anyone who has committed a sexual offense that is listed in the Sex Offender Registration Act of his state”

The definition of a sex offender will vary from state to state. You can go to the National Sex Offender Public Website to see the exact definition for your state. Although the exact definition changes, they all have the same basic idea. Thus, a sex offender is defined as anyone who has committed a sexual offense that is listed in the Sex Offender Registration Act for that state. That is the general definition and some states will get more specific. For example, in Massachusetts, a sex offender is someone who committed a sexual offense that lives, works, or attends school in the state. Hence, it is a sexually dangerous person who is on parole or probation.

Each Sex Offender has a Level

A lot of states have assigned a number of levels that the different types of sexual offenses are relegated to. Most, if not all states have a system in place with three levels. Level 1 sex offenders are the least dangerous, while Level 3 sex offenders are the most dangerous. Furthermore, Level 1 sex offenders do not have to register with their state’s database. The reason for this is the offense they committed does not make them a threat to society. For example, they may have been charged with urinating in public. Plus, they tend to be individuals who have a low probability of committing another offense. That is why there information is not made available to the public.

However, their information is still kept on file in certain state agencies, but it is available for law enforcement purposes only. Meanwhile, Level 2 sex offenders are deemed to be a moderate risk when it comes to committing another offense. Plus, they pose some threat to society. One step further are the Level 3 sex offenders. They pose the highest threat of committing another offense, and they are the most dangerous a sex offender could be without them having to be monitored 24 hours a day.

Some states add to the three levels of risk by adding designations to help further classify the sex offenders. Not all individual who have committed an offense will have a designation, but if they do they will be considered either a sexual predator, a violent offender or a predicate offender. A predator is an individual who committed a violent offense. They also are deemed to have a mental abnormality or disorder. Their disorder will make them more likely to commit another offense. A violent offender is the same as a predator, except they do not have a mental abnormality or a disorder. Then, a predicate offender is someone who has already committed more than one offense.

Types of Sex Offenses

Their are many different acts that can lead to an individual being deemed a sex offender. The exact act they commit and how many times they commit acts will affect their risk level too. Each state rules differently, but here is a list of the types of acts a sex offender may be charged. They are organized by being a misdemeanor or a felony.


  • sexual misconduct
  • forcible touching
  • sexual abuse in the second and third degree
  • patronizing a prostitute


  • luring a child
  • rape
  • sodomy
  • criminal sexual act
  • persistent sexual abuse
  • sexual abuse in the first degree
  • aggravated sexual abuse
  • sexual conduct against a child
  • predatory sexual assault
  • sex trafficking
  • promoting prostitution
  • unlawful surveillance
  • distributing unlawful material to minors
  • incest


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Sam Hadfield

Sam Hadfield is a retired LAPD officer with over 30 years of experience practicing in the states of Florida and California. Today he runs to help families assess the safety of their neighborhoods by tracking sex offenders, child molesters and other criminals. Sam recommends that families keep track of sex offenders in their neighborhoods by using tools like Kids Live Safe or local Sex Offender Registries.
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