Failure to Register as a Sex Offender: A Legal Analysis of 18 U.S.C. 2250 Page: 2 of 22
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Failure to Register as a Sex Offender A Legal Analysis of 18 U. S. C. 2250
Section 2250 outlaws an individual's failure to comply with federal Sex Offender Registration
and Notification Act (SORNA) requirements. SORNA demands that an individual-previously
convicted of a qualifying federal, state, or foreign sex offense-register with state, territorial, or
tribal authorities. Individuals must register in every jurisdiction in which they live, work, or
attend school. They must also update the information whenever they move, or change their
employment or educational status. Section 2250 applies only under one of several jurisdictional
circumstances: the individual was previously convicted of a qualifying federal sex offense; the
individual travels in interstate or foreign commerce; or the individual enters, leaves, or resides in
Individuals charged with a violation of 2250 may be subject to preventive detention or to a
series of pre-trial release conditions. If convicted, they face imprisonment for not more than 10
years and/or a fine of not more than $250,000 as well as the prospect of a post-imprisonment term
of supervised release of not less than 5 years. An offender guilty of a 2250 offense, who also
commits a federal crime of violence, is subject to an additional penalty of imprisonment for up to
30 years and not less than 5 years for the violent crime.
The Attorney General has exercised his statutory authority to make SORNA applicable to
qualifying convictions occurring prior to its enactment. The Supreme Court rejected the
suggestion of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that Congress lacks the
constitutional authority to make 2250 applicable, on the basis of a prior federal offense and
intrastate noncompliance, to individuals who had served their sentence and been released from
federal supervision prior to SORNA's enactment, United States a. Kebodeaux, 134 S.Ct. 2496
The Fifth Circuit's Kebodeaux opinion aside, the lower federal appellate courts have almost
uniformly rejected challenges to 2250's constitutional validity. Those challenges have included
arguments under the Constitution's Ex Post Facto, Due Process, Cruel and Unusual Punishment,
Commerce, Necessary and Proper, and Spending Clauses.
This report is available in an abridged version, without the footnotes or the attribution or citations
to authority found here, as CRS Report R4269 1, Failure to Register as a Sex Offender: An
Abridged Legal Analysis of]18 U.S. C. 2250.
Congressional Research Service
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Failure to Register as a Sex Offender: A Legal Analysis of 18 U.S.C. 2250, report, July 25, 2013; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc811471/m1/2/: accessed March 18, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.