Violating a state law in New Jersey does not, normally, expose someone to the possibility of federal criminal penalties. This is not, however, the situation if the state crime is a sex offense requiring that a convicted person register as a sex offender.

The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act is a national sex offender registry that was enacted into law to bring uniformity to federal and state laws designed to keep track of convicted sex offenders. The law applies to the 50 states and the District of Columbia as well as to U.S. territories and Indian tribes that are recognized by the federal government.

Failure to register or update information as a sex offender in each jurisdiction where a person lives, works or attends school is a federal crime if the individual travels to another state or to another country. The penalties for a conviction of this federal crime could include a prison sentence of up to 10 years and substantial fines. If prosecutors can also prove that the individual was guilty of committing violent federal charges, the prison sentence can increase to 30 years.

The goal of SORNA is to provide the public and state and federal officials with accurate and up-to-date information about sex offenders registered under local sex offender registration statutes. To this end, the national sex offender registry allows individuals to access the registries in all jurisdictions to which SORNA applies through a single website.

Because of the severe long-term consequences of a conviction of federal charges SORNA, a person under investigation for violating its provisions should seek the advice of an attorney skilled and knowledgeable in the area of federal criminal defense. Although this post provides information about this area of the law, it is only an overview of the subject matter. It is neither offered, nor is it intended to be relied upon, as legal advice.