New Updates to Mississippi’s Sex Offender Registration Law

New Updates to Mississippi’s Sex Offenders Registration Law

On July 1, 2011, new updates to Mississippi’s Sex Offender Registration Law went into effect.  These laws were passed earlier this year by the Mississippi Legislature.  I have posted about Mississippi’s registration requirements here, Crimes Requiring Registration as a Sex Offender, and I have some frequently-asked questions about this law posted on my main website here, Questions Regarding Mississippi’s Sexual Offender Registration Laws.

Summary of Changes

The list of sex offenses requiring registration has been expanded to include:

  • Obscene Electronic Communication under Section 97-29-45 of the Mississippi Code Annotated;
  • Sexual Activity Between Law Enforcement, Correctional or Custodial Personnel and Prisoners under Section 97-3-104 of the Mississippi Code Annotated;
  • Condoning by the Parent, Legal Guardian, or Caretaker of Continuing Sexual Abuse of a Child under Section 97-5-39(1)(c) of the Mississippi Code Annotated.

The new law also expands the duty to register to include offenders from other states and jurisdictions who are temporarily employed or attending school in Mississippi.  In addition to registering with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, you must register with the sheriff of every county where you are working, living, or attending school.  Offenders will also now be required to report volunteer service and unpaid internships, and virtually any type of temporary work.  Offenders must also report all:

  • temporary residences
  • telephone numbers
  • passport and immigration document information
  • professional licenses held

Any changes in registration information must be reported within three days.  The timeframe in which the initial registration duty attaches, as well as any updates, has been decreased from ten to three days.  In addition, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety is required to post all new information filed by residents online within three days of receiving any reported changes.  Mississippi’s online registration database may be found here.

New Requirements in Time of Emergency or Natural Disaster

Newly-created Section 45-33-28 of the Mississippi Code Annotated, based on post-Katrina Louisiana law, states:

(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of the law to the contrary, during a declaration of emergency, any person who has been required to register as a sex offender as provided in this chapter who enters an emergency shelter, within the first twenty-four (24) hours of admittance, shall notify the management of the facility, the sheriff of the county in which the shelter is located and the chief of police of the municipality, if the shelter is located in a municipality, of the person’s sex offender status. The sex offender shall provide his full name, date of birth, social security number, and last address of registration prior to the declaration of emergency. Within seventy-two (72) hours of receiving the notification required by the provisions of this subsection, the sheriff and chief of police shall forward that information to the department.

(2) The manager or director of the emergency shelter shall make a reasonable effort to notify the chief law enforcement officer of the county or municipality in which the shelter is located of the presence of the sex offender in the emergency shelter. No person associated with a nonprofit organization that operates an emergency shelter shall be liable for any injury or claim arising out of the failure of the manager or operator to communicate the presence of a sex offender in the shelter to the appropriate law enforcement official.

Ability to Petition for Relief From Duty to Register Extensively Revised

Although it is possible to petition for relief from the duty to register, this section of the Mississippi Code was extensively revised, and set up ”tiers” regarding the length of time that must pass before your petition will even be accepted for consideration.  The minimum time for a few offenses is 15 years, a few more is 25 years, and most offenses require lifetime registration.  You will absolutely need the assistance of a criminal lawyer to get this done if you would like to pursue it.

In my experience, the requirement to register as a sex offender is one of the most troubling aspects for my clients that are accused of sex crimes.  The registration requirements are difficult and arduous, and the penalties are stiff for failure to comply. 

If you are accused of a sex crime in Mississippi, or you are relocating to Mississippi and you need proper advice on registration requirements, give us a call.  We are here to help.