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What is Wisconsin's sex offender registry?

  • Birdsall Obear

Conviction of sex crimes has unforeseen penalties in Wisconsin. The state keeps a sex offender registry with listings that can have lifetime consequences and which illustrates the need to mount a strong legal defense against sex offenses.


The state's department of corrections operates this registry which allows the public to monitor and track persons convicted of sex crimes. Individuals must continue to register for placement on the registry and undergo monitoring in the community even after they serve their prison sentence or legal supervision. Sex crime victims, law enforcement officials, interested individuals and the public have access but some data, such as certain information on minors, is not available to all groups.

An exhaustive list sets forth who is placed in the registry. This includes a person convicted of a Wisconsin sex crime, found not guilty of this offense because of a mental disease or defect or who was found guilty of another crime that was sexually motivated and registration is necessary for public protection. Conviction of a federal crime, military offense or crime in another state that is like a Wisconsin sex crime requires placement in the registry.

The list includes individuals who were found to be sexual predators in the state. Registration is also required for individuals who are in a sexual offender registry in another state but are living, working or studying in Wisconsin. Courts may also require registration for video voyeurism crimes if a person committed the offenses of invasion of privacy or representations depicting nudity and their conduct was sexually motivated. 

There are over 30 offenses that meet the definition of a sex crime in Wisconsin. These include 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree sexual assault and sexual assault of a child. Other felonies also meet this definition for the registry. 

Most individuals, including juveniles, must register for 15 years after discharge from parole or supervision or after completing their prison sentence. Registration for life is required for individuals in lifetime supervision, repeat offenders, sex predators, repeat offenders of child sexual assault, those convicted of 1st or 2nd degree sexual assault and people convicted of 1st or 2nd degree sexual assault of a child.

Sexual offenses can have serious long-term financial, personal and professional consequences in addition to the registry. An attorney can help a person protect their rights.

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