Requirement to Register: Adam Walsh Act

A recent federal law, the Adam Walsh Act, requires that certain juveniles register as a sex offender. The Act is also known as the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). As a federal law, it establishes guidelines for all states to follow or risk losing certain federal funding. Each state, however, can establish stricter guidelines than are prescribed by the law. SORNA requires any juvenile who commits a sex crime against a child under the age of 12 to register as a sex offender. Additionally, any juvenile who is 14 years old or older and has committed any crime that is similar to or more serious than aggravated sexual assault, as defined by the federal law, is required to register as well. The only exception to these guidelines is a "Romeo and Juliet" clause, which includes instances in which the victim is at least 13 years old and no more than four years younger than the offender (discussed in greater detail in Chapter 11). SORNA essentially limits the discretion of judges and mandates juveniles who commit the offenses noted above to register as a sex offender for possibly the rest of their lives (McPherson, 2007).

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