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Tue, Oct. 15

How AZ law pertains to sex offenders

PRESCOTT - Arizona law requires a lifetime registration for all sex offenders regardless of their level.

Failure to register as a sex offender is a Class 4 felony and failure to update address and photograph every year is a Class 6 felony.

Police agencies have been tracking down sex offenders since the enactment of the registration law in 1996.

The most recent law directs the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division to provide daily address updates of registered sex offenders to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the agency that is responsible for tracking down and collecting information regarding sex offenders in Arizona. This agency also maintains a Web site (Check Link #1 below) with the names and mug shots of registered sex offenders in the state, among other information.

The new law's other major changes include the ability to electronically transfer fingerprints to DPS; requiring an automatic submission of DNA samples from sex offenders who relocate to Arizona; and, if a sex offender fails to register, law enforcement in the county of the offender's last known address must conduct an investigation and submit a report.

Sex offenders have to register with the Sheriff's office, no matter which county they live in.

A sex offender who is just released from prison, or a sex offender who is moving from one county to another, has 10 working days to register in the state of Arizona and 72 hours to notify the Sheriff's office if they have moved from one address to another, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.

Law enforcement responsible for a jurisdiction, in which a sex offender resides or has relocated, must notify immediate neighbors, schools, appropriate community groups and prospective employers. Notification includes a flier with a photograph, the exact address of an offender and a summary of an offender's status and criminal background.

In 2005, as part of the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office's reorganization program, Sheriff Steve Waugh moved the sex offender registration department under the Criminal Investigations Bureau supervision.

"Unregistered sex offenders are located and charged accordingly," the YCSO says.

In addition, the YCSO sex offender compliance unit reviews the individual sex offender files regularly and investigates them when necessary. It also works with the Yavapai County Adult Probation Department to assure sex offenders are in compliance. The unit comprises a full-time detective and the necessary personnel to stay abreast of the community's needs.

For the past two years, the Sheriff's Office, in conjunction with the Adult Probation Department, has conducted the Halloween "No Tricks or Treats" effort to ensure that sex offenders are complying with rules, laws and guidelines; that their residences are not decorated for Halloween or in anyway attractive to children who are trick-or-treating on that night.

About 350 registered sex offenders live in Yavapai County and 11,000 in Arizona. They fall into low, moderate and high-risk categories. Of the total number, 95 are moderate and high-risk sex offenders.

Authorities determine Risk Level by evaluating 19 criteria that are considered as significant factors contributing to sex offender recidivism. Each criterion is given a score, using the Arizona Risk Assessment. The scores' total indicates a specific risk level.

Occasionally, law enforcement discovers information, which can affect an offender's risk level, and because of it, that agency can either accept the recommended risk level or complete another risk assessment. Arizona enacted this evaluation process in 2002, according to the Sheriff's Office.

For further information regarding the YCSO Sex Offender Compliance Unit call detective Wendy Parkinson at 928-771-3260.

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