Depending on jurisdiction, offenses requiring registration range in their severity from public urination or adolescent sexual experimentation with peers, to violent rape and murder of children.In a few states non-sexual offenses such as unlawful imprisonment requires sex offender registration.
Those restrictions, many victims’ families argue, are necessary to prevent sex offenders from engaging in further criminal activity. A more pressing difficulty, however, is often finding a place to live.
The offenders are photographed and fingerprinted by law enforcement, and in some cases DNA information is also collected.
Registrants are often subject to restrictions that bar them from working or living within a defined distance of schools, parks, and the like; these restrictions can vary from county to county and from one municipality to another.
The majority of states and the federal government apply systems based on conviction offenses only, where the requirement to register as a sex offender is a consequence of conviction of or guilty plea to a "sex offense" that triggers a mandatory registration requirement.
The trial judge typically can not exercise judicial discretion, and is barred from considering mitigating factors with respect to registration.