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Can a Minor Be a Sex Offender? 

Wolfe & Mote Law Group, LLC Nov. 11, 2022

In this world of social media and overly explicit videos, many children are exposed to sexual content and sexual activities at a very young age. Unfortunately, this also results in an increase in juveniles facing charges for sexual offenses. But can a minor be a sex offender?  

Sex offender registration can be incredibly damaging both professionally and personally. If you, as a juvenile, or your child under the age of 18 is facing charges for a sex offense, contact a skilled and compassionate criminal defense attorney. With an office in Columbus, Ohio, the attorneys at Wolfe & Mote Law Group, LLC, have extensive experience representing both adults and juveniles facing sex-related charges throughout the state of Ohio, including Lancaster, Delaware, Newark, Granville, and surrounding counties.  

Age as a Factor in Sex Offender Registration  

Under Ohio law for sex offender registration, not all juveniles are required to register as sex offenders. Whether or not registration is mandatory depends on the juvenile’s age and the prior offense history. According to the Ohio Public Defender Commission, juveniles are subject to sex offender registration if: 

  • They were 16 to 17 at the time of the offense; or 

  • They were 14 to 15 at the time of the offense and also had prior adjudications for a sex-related offense.  

Ohio law recognizes three levels of sex offender registration for juveniles with slightly different durations and tier requirements compared to adult tiers. Tier I requires the juvenile to register as a sex offender once per year for 10 years. Tier II requires juveniles to register every half a year (180 days) for 20 years. Tier III requires juveniles to register every 90 days for the rest of their lives. Depending on the severity of the offense, Tier III offenders may also be subject to mandatory community notification requirements.  

Does the Severity of the Crime Matter?  

For registration purposes, the severity of the offense does not matter as much for juvenile offenders as it does for their adult counterparts. Ohio’s three-tier system for adults is based on offense designations. For juveniles, it is up to the judge to determine their tier level.  

Being accused of a sex offense is a serious matter that must not be taken lightly, regardless of whether you are an adult or juvenile. But what to do if you’re being accused of being a sex offender?  

  1. Contact an attorney. First of all, it is critical to have a skilled attorney fighting for your rights and representing your best interests as soon as possible.  

  1. Refrain from making any statements. Second of all, it is not a good idea to make any statements to the police before you consult with an attorney.  

  1. Gather evidence. If you want to prove that you did not commit the offense you are accused of, you need evidence to back your claims.  

  1. Avoid any contact with the alleged victim. If you are considering contacting the alleged victim in an attempt to convince them to take their accusations back, stop immediately. Any attempts to reach out to the alleged victim can make things worse.   

Do not worry about your next steps if you still haven’t made the first one. You can schedule a free consultation with the knowledgeable defense attorneys at Wolfe & Mote Law Group, LLC, to discuss your case.  

Penalties for Failure to Register  

If a juvenile or adult is required by the court to register as a sex offender, they must comply with the registration requirement. Failure to comply can result in unintended repercussions that could haunt the registrant for the rest of their life. Sex offender registration can be complicated, which is why some people make mistakes. Seek legal counsel from an experienced attorney to help you understand your rights and options.  

Can Youths Get the Sex Offender Title Expunged?  

Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible for individuals who registered as sex offenders to be reclassified to a lower tier or be removed from the registry altogether (declassification). As a rule of thumb, declassification is possible for juveniles classified as Tier I offenders.  

Fight for Your Rights With a Columbus Attorney  

The consequences of being convicted of a sex offense and subsequent registration as a sex offender can be devastating and lasting, regardless of whether the offender is an adult or minor. The attorneys at Wolfe & Mote Law Group, LLC understand that facing sexual-related charges is a serious matter regardless of age. From their office in Columbus, Ohio, their criminal defense attorneys work diligently to help clients fight back against the charges and move on with their lives.