How does Wisconsin’s sex offender registry work?

Wisconsin residents who have been charged with a sex crime can face many serious consequences including the requirement to register as a sexual offender.

Most states around the country have their own program which requires people convicted of sex crimes to register for some period of time. The stated purpose of these programs is to allow people to be tracked and to improve public safety. A sex offender registry can be an extra hurdle to overcome for people wishing to re-establish their lives after a sex crime conviction. Understanding what is required with this program is important for anyone facing these types of charges.

Who has access to sex offender registry information?

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections explains that the state's Sex Offender Registration Program collects a variety of information from registrants including the street address where a person lives.

Various entities can obtain details on a registrant including law enforcement officials, neighborhood groups, victims and even the general public. However, exactly what details are provided will vary based upon the type of person seeking it. The general public, for example, may not see all of the same information that a police unit member may obtain.

How can registry information be obtained?

Details on a registered sex offender can be retrieved online. The City of Delafield even has a link on its website to the Family Watchdog from where searches can be initiated. People can search by specific address, person's name or the name of a daycare or school. They can also sign up to receive notifications if a registered sex offender moves in or out of a specific area.

What information is collected by the program?

The Wisconsin State Legislature notes that among the details that must be provided to the program are the following:

  • Personal identification data such as height, weight, date of birth, eye color, gender and race.
  • Details about the offense for which the person was convicted.
  • Registrant status information such as when probation begins and ends as well as release dates from prison.
  • Electronic identifiers including email addresses, online user names and IP addresses.
  • Names of any employers or schools to be attended.

Names should include any known aliases as well as formal legal names. Supervising officers or others can also be included in an offender's registrant profile.

What happens if a registration is not completed or updated?

Registration should occur every year or within 10 days of any change of residence or other pertinent details. Failure to comply with these orders can result in charges as a Class H felony. Defendants can be forced to serve additional time in prison and to pay fines.

How can defendants get help?

As soon as an arrest for a sex crime is made, it is important to seek the proper help. Contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney is recommended.