What crimes will make you a sex offender?

What crimes will make you a sex offender? »Play Video
TRI-CITIES, Was. -- KEPR took a closer look at the broad list of crimes that can force someone to register as a sex offender. We learned there are thousands. There might be some that surprise you. KEPR also spoke with a young woman about what got her on on the list and how it's change her life.

We'll just call her Jane. She's 23 now, with a husband and a son. But Jane has restrictions with her son. And she can't live with her husband.

"I have to register as a level 1 sex offender because when I was 18 and 18 years old, I was charged with prostitution with minors," said Jane.

Jane plead guilty to a felony: promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor. She was pimping out teenagers for sex. Part of her punishment is that Jane must register as a sex offender.

"It's something more that adds on to life in general. Just having to check in to someone, just not having that freedom to be able to do what you want to do," she said.

She lost her house and her car.

"I thought it was just me and my friends that were younger than me having fun, and just money, you know," she said.

Jane didn't rape anyone. She didn't touch anyone, for that matter.
But she still has the stigma.

"I don't think there's any better label to destroy a life, I mean ex-con does not destroy a life, sexual registrant is a terrible thing, people don't want anything to do with it and don't want them in the neighborhoods and so forth," said Criminal Defense Attorney, Jim Egan.

Jim Egan is a longtime Criminal Defense Attorney. He thinks Washington has gotten too aggressive in incriminating thousands of people as sex offenders. Egan feels far too many people fall into this category unnecessarily.

"I'm not saying that there should not be a sexual registration. It's a good tool to use for people who are predators or people who cannot control themselves in a sexual way, but there's a whole raft of people that are registering as sex offenders," he said.

Yet JoDee Garretson would disagreed. She heads up the Support Advocacy and Resource Center, known as SARC. JoDee is glad to see potential crimes have been added to the list since the registry began in 1990.

"In my experience here at SARC, I have no seen situations where I have felt someone's been labeled as a sex offender, where as it wasn't appropriate," said Garretson.

Along with Jane's crime, many are also on the list for speaking suggestively to a minor or someone who claims to be a minor. Jodi deals with sex assault victims every day. She believes any form of sexual manipulation is a crime.

"While someone might look at an act and not understand why it's considered so heinous or so serious, it's that impact that the victim is left with and the self-doubt and the shame that that person has," said Garretson.

Jane admits to making a bad decision. But feels her punishment doesn't fit the crime.

"I've lost the first year of my son's life and I don't want anyone else to go through that," said Jane.

A registered sex offender, on the expanding list of hundreds in the Tri-Cities.

The way the law is written, the judge has no discretion on whether someone is named a sex offender.