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Hurricane forces many to evacuate, including sex offenders

Some individuals who have been convicted of crimes in Louisiana will have to jump one more hurdle before evacuating to avoid the effects of Hurricane Isaac. If found guilty of a sex crime and required to register on the sex offenders registry, any evacuating resident of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, will have to report the move to a law enforcement agency. According to authorities, it is a state-mandated requirement that any sex offender report any change in residence.

If such a person plans to be gone from their recorded residence for more than seven days, they have to report it, no matter where it may be. This means that individuals seeking shelter from Isaac, be it in another state or in a shelter, must tell authorities. In fact, if sex offenders want to head to a shelter, they must report to the authorities that they are on the registry and want to stay in a shelter. Law enforcement will then inform the inquiring individual of which shelter she or he may stay at.

If a convicted sex offender heads out of state, he or she must report to a local law enforcement agency in order to determine the reporting requirements in that area. This is to ensure the safety of what authorities perceive as potential victims in any new locations. This is just one of the many consequences of having a conviction of a sex crime on your criminal record. If the whereabouts of a convicted sex offender are unknown, the authorities will act on it and you could be facing additional charges or extended probation.

According to Louisiana's Attorney General, the simplest way to inform the authorities is to use the law enforcement notification service found on the Internet. This gives offenders an easy system to keep law enforcement agencies informed and aware of their whereabouts. If access to the Internet is not possible it is still the individual's responsibility to contact a law enforcement agency to inform them of his or her whereabouts.

Many states have similar requirements to Louisiana, but the appearance of Hurricane Isaac and the damage it has already done has led to the evacuation and a highlighting of the laws related to the sex offender registry. Just one more reason that if you or someone you know has been accused of a sex crime to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who may be able to mitigate the potential consequences of a conviction or failure to notify authorities of relocation in a timely manner.

Source: Shreveport Times, "Sex offenders must register after evacuation," Aug. 28, 2012

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