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Sex Offender Registration in Arizona: What You Need to Know

Posted on November 9, 2023 in
Sex Offender Registration Overview

If you are convicted of a sex crime in Arizona, you will likely be required to register as a sex offender. In Arizona, with one exception, registration as a sex offender is for the rest of your life. The issues you are facing are substantial. The one, best move, you can take right now is to contact a Board Certified Expert in Criminal Law.

The stigma of a felony conviction and possibly long-term probation or probation for life often don’t sting as much as the required  sex offender registration. In many ways, this administrative remedy often feels likes the most punitive part of being convicted of a sex crime because it can devastate your entire life, leaving you unable to find work or a place to live. The registration likely will prevent you from participating in events with your own children (think school-related and youth athletics).

The conviction for a sex offense and/or the registration as a sex offender will likely cost you the ability to receive fingerprint clearance. In today’s world, that means you likely will not be permitted to coach, teach, or be a mentor to minors in any meaningful way

The Arizona sex offender registration requirements began with the state began in 1996 when Arizona enacted laws creating a community notification system to keep residents safe by keeping track of offenders after they were released into the community. Failure to register is a felony all by itself.

You must register your current address every year and, depending upon which of the three levels of a sex offender is assigned to you, your neighbors might be notified about your criminal past.

Which Sex Crimes Require Lifetime Registration?

The short answer to this question is, “just about all of them.” A few are discretionary with the Court at the time of sentencing. But most sex crimes require mandatory registration as a sex offender. There is an extensive list of sex crimes that require registration. You can see a complete list of sex offenses here.

Some of the common sex offenses that require registration as a sex offender include:

  • Unlawful imprisonment of a victim less than 18 years of age committed by someone other than the victim’s parent
  • Kidnapping if the victim is less than 18 years of age and the person committing the crime is not the victim’s parent
  • Sexual abuse of a child less than 18 years of age
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual conduct with a minor
  • Second offense of indecent exposure directed at a child less than 15 years of age
  • Third or subsequent indecent exposure violation

However, you should be aware that judges have wide discretion to require registration for crimes besides the charges listed under the sex offender registration law. Even if not a “sex crime,” a judge may order you to register as a sex offender for any crime that involved some element of sexual motivation.

The one exception noted above concerns a juvenile offender who is adjudicated as a juvenile delinquent for committing an act that, if committed by an adult, would be on the list of offenses requiring registration may be ordered to register as a sex offender.

They are still required to register. But, juveniles ordered to register are only required to do so until they are 25 years of age. At that time, Courts have the discretion to end the registration requirement upon the individual’s successful completion of a sentence of probation.  But note, it is still discretionary with the Court.

Termination by court order is limited to those situations in which the offender was less than 18 years of age when the offense was committed.


If convicted in another state of a crime that requires registration in Arizona, Arizona can mandate registration even it the other state did not require it.  Think twice before moving to Arizona.

Screening Risk Levels

If you are convicted of a sex crime in Arizona, you will go through the sex offender risk screening to determine how likely it is for you to re-offend.

The three levels and the requirement of each are as follows:

Level 3: Offenders in this group are at the highest risk of becoming repeat offenders. Police must notify residents of the surrounding neighborhoods near where the offender resides that a sex offender is living in the area. Flyers that include the offender’s name, address, photograph, and a summary of the individual’s criminal record are distributed door to door to residences, schools, and community groups. Press releases are also issued to local television stations and newspapers. A notice is also given to the offender’s employer.

Level 2: This group is at risk to re-offend, but its members are not as high risk as level 3. Police will notify only homes and residences in the offender’s immediate neighborhood, schools, community groups, and the offender’s employer. A press release is not a requirement for level 2 offenders.

Level 1: This is the lowest risk group. Police are only required to maintain a record of the offender, and notice is only given to those living in the same home as the offender.

The sex offender risk assessment is performed by the local sheriff’s department when the offender reports to register. However, if your conviction includes a jail or prison sentence, the Department of Corrections will conduct the sex offender risk assessment before you are released from confinement.  You must understand that changing your assigned risk level is near impossible.  There is an administrative process, but such applications are rarely granted.

The Sex Offender Registration Process

Once you have been released from jail or prison in Arizona, you have just 10 days to register with the county sheriff in the county where you live. Your registration information becomes available to the public, and it is shared will other law enforcement agencies including the police department in the city where you reside.

After your initial sex offender registration, you must update your registration information once a year with the county sheriff. If you move or you will not be staying at your registered home address, you must update your registration information with the county sheriff within 72 hours.

Even if you are homeless, you must comply with all sex offender registration requirements. Someone who does not have a permanent residence address must register every three months with the sheriff’s department. Instead of a traditional house number and street, a homeless person must provide a description of the physical location at which they are living even if it is an empty lot or a bench.

Sex Offenders Visiting Arizona from Other States

Sex offenders from other states who visit Arizona must register with the county sheriff if they will be in the state for more than 10 days.

Special Driver’s License for Sex Offenders

Even if you are at the lowest risk level, if you are a convicted sex offender in Arizona, the law imposes additional requirements on you. For starters, you must surrender your old Arizona driver’s license for a new, special license for convicted sex offenders. The sex offender driver’s license may look the same as a regular Arizona driver’s license, but, it is specially encoded so that law enforcement officers are alerted that you are sex offender.

Even though it is not supposed to change how you are treated by police officers, many registered sex offenders in Arizona will tell you that they receive “special treatment” from the police: not the good kind! You are required to renew your special Arizona sex offender driver’s license every year. You must take a new photo for the license and provide your current address.

If you fail to surrender your old driver’s license, fail to obtain the special sex offender driver’s license, or fail to renew the special license, could be subjecting yourself to new felony charges and potential prison time.

Penalties for Violating Arizona Sex Offender Registration Laws

Arizona sex offender law makes it clear; it is your responsibility to ensure that you have complied with all the Arizona sex offender registration requirements. Here, there is not much wiggle room. If you fail to comply with any aspect of the registration law, you are subjecting yourself to felony charges and imprisonment. You should always consult with a criminal defense attorney who is experienced with sex offender registration cases to make sure that you comply with all the laws.

How To Avoid Sex Offender Registration in Arizona

If you are convicted of a sex crime in Arizona, having to register as a sex offender is almost guaranteed. You will eventually get past any incarceration in jail or prison. You will eventually clear all fines and other penalties for a sex crime in Arizona.  But, the lifetime sex offender registration and the stigma that comes with it never ends.

The best way to avoid the sex registration requirements is to obtain an outcome that doesn’t mandate it in the first place.  If you want the best shot at avoiding sex offender registration, please start by consulting a Board-Certified Criminal Defense Attorney like Howard Snader.

If you are facing charges for a sex crime, call us today for a free consultation.