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Alabama Sex Offenses and Why They are Different

Sex offenses are unlawful, inappropriate, and non-consensual sexual acts. Sex offenses are considered violent crimes and often attract severe penalties. There are several Alabama state and federal laws against sex offenses. There are different categories of sex offenses in Alabama, and the criminal justice system administers legal penalties according to the severity of each crime. Alabama state laws categorize sex offenses as a misdemeanor or felony crimes. As provided by the state Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Act, offenders must register in the Sex Offender Registry.

What is an Alabama Sex Crime?

In Alabama, sex crimes involve unlawful sexual contact or inappropriate sexual behavior committed to gratify the offender or the victim. Sex offenses may include the use of force, threats, restraint, coercion, or any other form of violence, or the threat of any such act. According to state laws (AL Code § 13A–6–60),, when determining implied threats, the courts will consider the ages and physical sizes of the parties involved, the setting where the alleged event took place, the mental and physical states of the parties involved, and the authority of the accused relative to the victim.

Sex crimes may also involve incapacitation, which is when the victim cannot consent due to age, disability, unconsciousness, the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substance, and any other limitation. In Alabama, minors cannot consent to sexual activity. Therefore, any sexual act with or against a minor or a child by an adult is a sex crime. A child is less than 12 years old, while a minor is between 12 and 18 years old. However, the age of consent to sexual activity in Alabama is 16.

What are the Different Types of Sex Offenses?

Sex offenses in Alabama include:

  • Rape: This offense has first-degree and second-degree categories. When a person has sexual intercourse with a child, an incapacitated person, or a person otherwise unable to consent, or intercourse with the use of force, this is first-degree rape. Second-degree rape involves sexual intercourse with a minor (12 years or older, but less than 16) by a person 16 years old or older provided that the offender is at least two years older than the victim. First-degree rape is a Class A felony, bringing fines of up to $60,000 and imprisonment terms of up ten (10) to 99 years. Second-degree rape is a Class B felony, which is punishable by imprisonment for two to 20 years and fines of up to $30,000.
  • Sodomy: If an adult commits sodomy forcibly with another person, with a person incapable of consent, or with a child, such an adult is guilty of first-degree sodomy, which is a Class A felony. Second-degree sodomy involves a person who is 16 years or older and a minor who is age 12 or older but below 16. Second-degree sodomy is a Class B felony.
  • Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse occurs when a person subjects another person to forced sexual contact. Alabama laws define sexual contact as touching another person’s intimate or sexual parts for either party’s sexual gratification. As defined by state laws, sexual abuse does not require skin-to-skin contact. Sexual abuse against an incapacitated person and unable to consent is first-degree sexual abuse, a Class C felony. Sexual abuse involving a minor or any person otherwise unable to consent to sexual contact is second-degree sexual abuse, a Class A misdemeanor. However, if the perpetrator is 15 years older than the victim, second-degree sexual abuse is a Class C felony.

Additionally, repeated sex offenses within one year of a first offense constitute a Class C felony. Class C felonies are punishable by imprisonment for between one to ten years and fines of up to $15,000. Class A misdemeanors are punishable by imprisonment for no more than one year and fines of up to $6,000. Other sex offenses in Alabama are:

  • Sexual abuse of a child
  • Enticing a child
  • Sexual abuse by a foster parent
  • Sex offenses by school employees involving students
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Sexual torture
  • Indecent exposure
  • Sex offenses by computer use involving a child
  • Soliciting a child by electronic means
  • Additional sex offenses:
    • Disseminating a intimate image with the intent to harass, coerce, threaten, or intimidate the person in the image;
    • Sexual extortion
    • Assault with bodily fluids
    • Directing a child to engage in sexual activity
  • Public lewdness

Sex Offender Levels of Classification in Alabama

The state of Alabama does not have a tier system for sex offenders. However, Alabama sex offenders may be classified as follows:

  • Juvenile sex offender: A person less than 18 years old at the time of offense or delinquency.
  • Youthful offender sex offender: A sex offender who is less than 21 years old at the time of the offense and whom the court judges a youthful offender.
  • Adult sex offender: An adult sex offender is anyone above the age of majority who commits a sex crime, provided that the court does not judge the person delinquent or a youthful offender.
  • Registration-only sex offender: These are offenders that the law only requires to register as sex offenders. Offenders in this category are not subject to community notification requirements.
  • Sexually violent predator: This is an adult sex offender convicted of a violent sex crime who will likely commit repeated sexually predatory or violent offenses.

How Do I Find A Sex Offender Near Me in Alabama?

Alabama’s Sex Offenders Registration and Community Notification Act (SORNA) requires sex offenders to register in the communities where the offenders reside. The Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency makes the state sex offender registry available publicly.

In each county or municipality, the chief of police or Sherrif must notify everyone living within 1,000 - 5,000 feet of a sex offender’s residence. SORNA also allows sex offender information to be made available on any community notification flyer. Available information includes the sex offender’s name, address, telephone number, email address, school, place of employment, current photo, physical description, and status.

Third-party websites also offer information on sex offenders in different communities. Some of these websites send email alerts with updates to registered users.

Alabama Sex Offender Registry

As provided by the Sex Offenders Registration and Community Notification Act (SORNA) of Alabama, persons convicted of certain sex crimes must register in the state’s sex offender registry upon release or sentence completion. The sex offender registry is publicly available and updated in real-time with information. Offenders excluded from the registry include:

  • Persons convicted of indecent exposure (first offense)
  • Juvenile sex offenders (excluding high-risk offenders)
  • Youthful sex offenders

Sex offenders must submit all required information to local law enforcement and update the record every three months. If a sex offender changes residences or employment places, the offender must notify law enforcement to update publicly available information. Any violation of the registration requirement is a criminal offense. Users may search the Sex Offender Registry using the offenders’:

  • Work or home address
  • Name
  • Email address or internet name

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What are the Sex Offender Restrictions in Alabama?

Some of the sex offender restrictions in Alabama are as follows. In Alabama, sex offenders may not:

  • Live within 2,000 feet of a child care facility, school, or camp.
  • Live within 2,000 feet of the victim or the victim’s immediate family members.
    • If properties within 2,000 feet of the offender’s residence change to include any of the above after the offender has established residency, the offender is not in violation.
  • Work in a childcare facility, school, or business that provides services to children
  • Work or volunteer within 2,000 feet of a childcare facility, school, or business that provides services to children
  • Work or volunteer within 500 feet of any park, playground, field, or facility that caters to or entertains children
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