Oregon Legislation Relating to Sex Offender Registration
History. Oregon adopted its first sex offender registry in 1989, requiring the Oregon Department of Corrections to maintain a registry of all individuals convicted of sex crimes who were released to parole or post-prison supervision. The registration period was five years. Just two years later, lifetime registration replaced the five-year term and the Oregon State Police was put in charge of the registry. In 1993, the Legislature created the “predatory” classification, along with a system of public notification for registrants in this category. While the original Oregon legislation gave registrants 30 days after a registrable event to complete their registration after an event (such as a birthday), in 1995 this shrank to just 10 days. The types of crimes requiring registration expanded in almost every regular session, which ultimately resulted in today’s registry of approximately 30,000 individuals.
Sex Crimes. Since the Oregon registry was created in 1989, the list of “sex crimes” that require registration has never decreased in scope–it has only increased, as new sex crimes were created and existing crimes were included in the crimes that trigger a registration obligation. Today, 26 separate sex crimes, including (for adults) both misdemeanors and felonies, are registrable offenses.
ORS 163A.005 defines a “sex crime” for purposes of Oregon sex offender registration. These are (a) rape in any degree; (b) sodomy in any degree; (c) unlawful sexual penetration in any degree; (d) sexual abuse in any degree; (e) Incest with a child victim; (f) using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct; (g) encouraging child sexual abuse in any degree; (h) transporting child pornography into Oregon; (i) paying for viewing a child’s sexually explicit conduct; (j) compelling prostitution; (k) promoting prostitution; (l) kidnapping in the first degree if the victim was under 18 years of age; (m) contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor; (n) sexual misconduct if the offender is at least 18 years of age; (o) possession of materials depicting sexually explicit conduct of a child in the first degree; (p) kidnapping in the second degree if the victim was under 18 years of age, except by a parent or by a person found to be within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court; (q) online sexual corruption of a child in any degree if the offender reasonably believed the child to be more than five years younger than the offender; (r) under certain circumstances, “luring a minor”; (s) sexual assault of an animal; (t) public indecency or private indecency, if the person has a prior conviction for a sex crime; (u) trafficking in persons as described in ORS 163.266 (1)(b) or (c); (v) under certain circumstances, purchasing sex with a minor; (w) invasion of personal privacy in the first degree, if the court designates the offense as a sex crime pursuant to ORS 163.701(3); (x) any attempt to commit a sex crime; (y) burglary, when committed with intent to commit a sex crime; and (z) criminal conspiracy if the offender agrees with one or more persons to engage in or cause the performance of sex crime.
Registration. The Oregon statutes use the word “reporting” when they mean what we think of as “registration” – periodically giving the required information to the police.
ORS 163A.010 requires a person who was convicted of a sex crime and discharged, paroled or released from a correctional facility in Oregon or another state to report (register). ORS 163A.015 requires a person convicted of a sex crime and discharged, released or placed on probation by a court in Oregon or in another state to report (register). Finally, ORS 163A.020 requires a person who has been convicted of a sex crime in another jurisdiction to report (register) in Oregon upon moving into Oregon and requires reporting (registration) by certain nonresidents and certain residents in specialized cases. Reporting (registration) events include:
- The registrant’s birthday;
- Any address change (including moving out of state);
- Starting employment or vocation at an institute of higher education;
- Stopping/changing employment or vocation at an institute of higher education;
- Starting enrollment/attendance at an institute of higher education; and
- Stopping/changing enrollment/attendance at an institute of higher education.
In 2019, the Oregon Legislature enacted HB 2045, which imposed two new registration requirements effective January 1, 2021. First, registrants must now report any legal name change within 10 days of the change. Second, a registrant must report any planned international travel to the Oregon State Police at least 21 days in advance of travel. This is Oregon’s response to the federal International Megan’s Law.
Penalties for Failure to Report. Under ORS 163A.040(3), most failures to report are Class C felonies. A Class C felony is punishable by up to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $125,000. Failure to return an address verification notice from the State Police is a violation (like a speeding ticket), not a felony or misdemeanor.
Public Notification. In Oregon, unlike some other states, there is no public internet posting of all registrants. However, under ORS 163A.215(1), the Oregon State Police or an agency supervising an individual may respond to inquiries about individuals on the registry or registrants in a particular location as necessary to protect the public. These agencies can also release information to other law enforcement agencies if it is in the public interest.
The Oregon State Police does maintain a website, however, on which it posts certain individuals. As illustrated under the Registration tab of the website, Oregon has implemented a classification system for registrants. Level 1 individuals are considered low-risk; Level 2 are medium-risk; Level 3 are high risk. The public notification rules are different for each Level.
Level 3: Under ORS 163A.215(2), the Oregon State Police places Level 3 individuals on its public website. In addition, information about Level 3 individuals may be released to anyone who resides with him or her, or with whom the Level 3 individual has a significant relationship, and to neighbors, churches, community parks, schools and child care centers, convenience stores, businesses and other places that children or other potential victims may frequent. Such information about a Level 3 individual may also be released to long term care facilities and residential care facilities if the individual is seeking admission to such a facility. Most troubling, such information can be released to local or regional media sources.
Level 2: Under ORS 163A.215(4), the Oregon State Police does not place Level 2 individuals on its public website. However, information about Level 2 individuals may be released to the same people to whom information about Level 3 individuals, except that such information cannot be released to local or regional media sources.
Level 1: Under ORS 163A.215(5), the Oregon State Policy does not place Level 1 individuals on its public website. However, information about Level 1 individuals may be released, but only to individuals who reside with the Level 1 individual.
Relief from Reporting (Registration). Originally, there was no opportunity for a registrant to exit the registry. In 2009, the Oregon Legislature created the opportunity for some registrants to seek relief by seeking a court order that the individual had been rehabilitated and did not pose a threat to the safety of the public. Former ORS 181.820, renumbered as ORS 163A.120. This pathway is available until December 31, 2022.
In 2013, however, in response to the burgeoning registry, the Legislature enacted a new process to classify registrants. Certain low-risk individuals are allowed a pathway off the registry, which is discussed in more detail on the Registration page of this website.
In Oregon, juvenile offenders are subject to similar rules, although misdemeanants need not register and the process for relief from registration is a juvenile court procedure rather than a procedure with the Parole Board. For an explanation of the juvenile registration and relief procedures, see the CLiF Project website.