Juvenile Sex Offender
Registration In Delaware


Juvenile Sex Offender registration is a topic that has been highly debated. In most circles juvenile sex offender registration is a controversial topic which pits the benefits of community and victim protection against the severe consequences juvenile sex offender registration has on the future opportunities of a registered child. 11 Del.C. Section 4123 outlines the juvenile sex offender registration requirements.

Unfortunately, even minor sex offenses that may have in previous generations been viewed as childhood curiosity, can result in sex offender registration. In addition, because of Delaware’s mandatory reporting laws, any parent who has a child who has acted in a sexual or curious way towards another child may have their hands tied if they decide to get a professional opinion regarding their child. 16 Del C. Section 903 requires any person who knows or suspects child sex abuse to make a report, even if it is a minor or one time offense. Mandatory reporting is a topic for another day, but it certainly creates a chilling effect on any parent seeking professional help and even requires the parent themselves to make the report.

When it comes to juvenile sex offender registration, the initial public response is often that registration is necessary to protect the public and victims of sex crimes. However, this concern is would appear to be diminished when one considers that registration of juveniles does little to protect children or the public because of the low risk of recidivism of juvenile offenders. Fortunately, a Juvenile Sex offender does have hope of being relieved from the onerous consequences of sex offender registration. 11 Del.C section 4123(c)(2) permits a child who is found guilty or pleads guilty to a sex offense to file a motion with the sentencing court asking to be relieved of the requirement to register as a sex offender or to be registered at a lower tier than that required by the offense.

Because the Family Court can give great weight to what is in the best interest of a defendant juvenile, the Court is can consider the adverse impact registration has on a child and weigh it against the public benefit that would be served through registration. The Delaware courts appear to be taking this matter very seriously and have recognized that juvenile sex offender registration has a negative impact on a child’s educational, vocational, social and extra-curricular activities and that certainly interferes with the Court’s desired outcome of a child who has been rehabilitated and has the opportunity to become a positive and productive adult.

It is generally acknowledged that sex offender registration can result in discrimination and ostracism that last far longer and has a more significant impact on a juvenile than the actual criminal sentence imposed. Although there are certainly times where a child would need to be registered as a sex offender, considering the severity of the consequences of registration, the low likelihood of recidivism and the amount of change that a child defendant goes through during adolescence, juvenile sex offender registration should be exercised carefully and with great concern care.


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