|Frequently Asked Questions & Topics Concerning Megan's Law
Who must register as a sex offender?
Where does an offender register?
How do I find out if there are any sex offenders and what type of information is available?
How long does an offender have to register if they move?
What are the punishments for not registering?
Who must register as a sex offender?
In Missouri, sex offenders are required to register with the Sheriff in the county of residence or the Sheriff of the City of St. Louis. Section 589.400, RSMo, states the following individuals have to register:
- Any one who has since July 1, 1979, has been or is hereafter convicted of, been found guilty of, or pled guilty or nolo contendere to committing, or attempting to commit, a felony offense of chapter 566, RSMo, or any offense of chapter 566, RSMo, where the victim is a minor; or
- Any person who, since July1, 1979, has been or is hereafter convicted of, been found guilty of, or pled guilty or nolo contendere to committing or attempting to commit one or more of the following offenses if done against a victim under 18 years of age:
- kidnapping under §565.110, RSMo.
- felonious restraint
- promoting prostitution in the first, second, or third degree
- sexual exploitation of a minor
- promoting child pornography in the first or second degree
- possession of child pornography
- furnishing pornographic materials to minors
- public display of sexually explicit materials
- coercing acceptance of obscene materials
- promoting obscenity in the first degree
- promoting pornography for minors or obscenity in the second degree
- abuse of a child pursuant to §568.060
- use of a child in a sexual performance
- promoting sexual performance of a child
- Any person since July 1, 1979 who has been committed to the department of health as a criminal sexual psychopath; or
- Any person since July 1, 1979, who has been found not guilty as a result of a mental disease or defect of any offense listed in subdivision (1) or (2) of this subsection; or
- Any person since July 1, 1979, who has ever been convicted of, been found guilty of, or pled guilty to, or nolo contendere to any charge if done if Missouri would violate Chapter 566, RSMo or any offense under (2), from
- any other state
- foreign country, or
- under federal or military jurisdiction
- has been required to register in another state, or
- has been required to register under federal or military law
(6)Any person who has been or is required to register in another state or has been required to register under federal or military law and who works or attends school or training on a full time or on a part-time basis in Missouri. Part-time means for training for 14 day period in twelve month time frame.
The registration as a sex offender is a lifetime requirement unless a conviction is reversed, vacated or set aside, or the governor as to the registration type offense pardons the suspect.
Where does an offender register?
An individual who is required to register with the Sheriff in the county where he or she resides within 10 days of moving into the county or within 10 days from conviction for the offense, release from incarceration, or placement on probation. After registration, the Sheriff will forward a copy of the registration to the city, township, or campus law enforcement agency located within the county. Additionally, the sex offender will have his or her picture on a web site or other public information system that will readily provide the identity and history of the offender to the public.
How do I find out if there are any sex offenders and what type of information is available?
You may contact your local Sheriff's office that should maintain a database for convicted sex offenders in this county. In 2005, sheriffs may maintain a database with a picture of the registered sex offender.
The purpose of this information is to permit you to protect the children in your care from potential harm. Any actions taken by an individual against the registered sex offender, including vandalism of property, verbal or written threats of harm or physical assault against the person or their family, may result in your arrest and prosecution for criminal acts. Click on the link below for additional information.
Link for Scott County Sheriff's web page
Link for Missouri Highway Patrol web page
Many people get discuss the rights of defendant's in the criminal justice system. Those rights are important to insure as humanly possible a fair and just process for suspects of a crime. However, the rights of the victim are no less meaningful.
- To be treated with dignity and compassion by the criminal justice system;
- To be informed about the criminal justice process;
- To be free from intimidation;
- To have inconveniences associated with participation in the criminal justice process minimized to the fullest extent possible;
- To make at least one telephone call provided the call is reasonable in both length and location called;
- To medical assistance if, in the judgment of the law enforcement agency, medical assistance appears necessary;
- To be notified if presence in court is not needed;
- To be informed about available remedies, financial assistance, and social services;
- To be compensated for their loss whenever possible;
- To be provided with a secure waiting area during court proceedings;
- To be advised of case progress and final disposition;
- To the prompt return of property when no longer needed as evidence;
- To submit a written impact statement prior to a decision being made concerning whether formal criminal charges will be filed;
- To make an in-person impact statement directly to the sentencing court;
- To be informed of any release on bond, probation or parole, or escape with in 24 hours.
See §595.209, RSMo (1996), for more information as to victim and witness rights.
Domestic Violence is a serious crime. In order to help victims of domestic violence get the help they need and deserve, the Scott County Prosecutor's Office has created this web page. This web page provides information to victims about the legal process and organizations whose mission is to assist victims of domestic violence. The Scott County Prosecutor's Office recognizes that women and men may be the victims of domestic violence. For convenience, we have referred to the victim as a female and the abuser/defendant as a male.
Frequently Asked Questions and Topics Concerning Domestic Violence
Who may apply for an order of protection?
Any person 18 years of age or older or otherwise emancipated who fits into one of the following categories as related to the suspect:
- former spouse;
- adult related by blood or marriage;
- adults currently living together or have resided together in the past;
- an adult who has been in a continuing social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature;
- adult who has a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have resided together at any time.
One may apply for an order of protection with Division 5 of the Scott County Circuit Court. Based on the information contained in your application, the court will make a determination as to whether one gets a temporary order of protection (Ex-parte order). If an ex-parte order is granted, a hearing will be held in the near future where the suspect is given notice to be present in court to determine if a full order of protection will be granted to the victim.
Definitions in Chapter 455, Abuse-Adults and Children-Shelters and Protective orders?
For purposes of Chapter 455, abuse is defined as the following acts:
- Assault – knowingly placing or attempt to place another in fear of physical harm;
- Battery – knowingly causing physical harm to another with or without a deadly weapon;
- Coercion – compelling another by force or threat of force to engage in conduct from which the latter has a right to abstain or to abstain from conduct in which the person has a right to engage;
- Harassment – engaging in a knowing course of conduct involving more than one incident that alarms or causes distress to another adult and serves no legitimate purpose. The course of conduct must be such as would cause a reasonable adult to suffer substantial emotional distress and must actually cause substantial emotional distress to the petitioner. Such conduct might include, but not limited to:
- following another about a public place or places:
- peering in the window or lingering outside the residence of another; but does not include constitutionally protected activity.
- Sexual assault – causing or attempting to cause another to engage involuntarily in any sexual act by force, threat of force, or duress;
- Unlawful imprisonment – holding, confining, detaining or abducting another person against that person's will.
Determining if you are the victim of domestic violence
A person is a victim of domestic violence if he or she has experienced one or more of the following:
- Beatings or physical attacks such as slapping, punching, biting, kicking, pinching, choking, shaking or hair pulling;
- Threats that make you fear injury to yourself or your children;
- Threats that make you fear for your life;
- Imprisonment within your home or another location;
- Forced sexual contact or rape under threats of harm to yourself or someone you care about;
- Embarrassment or alarm because of lewd or shocking behavior;
- Damage to your personal property;
- Forced entry into your home, with or without a weapon;
- Threats with a weapon such as a gun or knife;
- Repeated verbal humiliation and attacks inside or outside your home.
What should I do if I am a victim of domestic violence?
Report The Crime To The Police
Domestic Violence is a serious crime. The police must respond to your calls. If you are the victim of domestic abuse, you should call the police or dial 911. Make sure you tell the police all the details regarding the domestic violence incident and inform the police about any prior incidents of domestic violence, regardless of whether you reported the incident. If you are on welfare or your family is working with the Division of Child Services (DCS), tell your social worker what happened. You can also call your local domestic violence hotline for help and support.
Seek Medical Assistance
If you have physical injuries, you should seek treatment for those injuries. Tell the medical professional, your private doctor or someone in the hospital clinic or emergency room, how you received the injury or why you are emotionally upset. Ask the medical professional to document your injury, how it happened, and to include photographs of your injury in your medical record.
Document Your Injury
If you have been the victim of domestic violence it is helpful to law enforcement for you to document the injury. For instance, if you have physical injuries, the police should take photographs of your injuries. In many cases, an individual has bruising that does not show up for a couple of days. The appearance of bruising generally tells a judge or jury what degree of an assault the victim suffered even if there are no broken bones, lacerations, etc. Please provide your law enforcement agency with a medical records waiver so the investigating officer can obtain the evidence of the abuse noted in those records.
File a Report
If you are the victim of domestic violence, you may file a civil complaint, a criminal complaint/police report, or both. The main difference between a civil and criminal complaint is the remedy available to the victim.
Civil Complaint: Upon filing a civil complaint, the petitioner may receive an ex-parte or temporary order of protection. After the suspect has been given notice and an opportunity to be heard by the court, a full order of protection can be granted by the court if the court finds it is in the best interest of all parties involved. Further, a victim can contact a private attorney to seek a civil judgment against the offender where monetary damages may be available.
Criminal Complaint/Police Report: When a criminal complaint is filed, the court can punish the person who committed the act of domestic violence by requiring him to perform community service, be placed on probation, attend counseling, or serve time in jail. The court may also prohibit physical contact between the victim and the abuser. The victim usually initiates criminal investigations. However, police officers that observe evidence of domestic violence may initiate their own investigation for domestic violence. If the officer's investigation supports probable cause that domestic violence has occurred, the officer will fill out an affidavit setting out the facts supporting the filing of a warrant for the suspect with the prosecutor's office. Upon review of the affidavit, the prosecutor can either file a charge or decline to file the charge based on the circumstances and history reported by the officer.
What is a Protection Order?
A protection order is a legally enforceable document that limits, among other things, physical contact between the victim and abuser. The first stage order is called an ex-parte order of protection. This is a temporary order of protection received from the court without a hearing. The second stage order is the full order of protection granted after the suspect has notice a hearing and had an opportunity to be heard by the court. At the full order hearing, the court will make a determination as to granting or denying a full order of protection. A full order of protection can be granted for a period no less than 6 months and no longer than 1 year. A second protective order granting additional time from 6 months to 1 year can be requested from the same court without any new acts.
When filing for an order of protection, a victim may request one or more of the following provisions. This list is not exhaustive. These are the most common provisions that victims of domestic violence may request:
- Prohibit the defendant (abuser) from having contact with the victim, victim's children and relatives. The term "contact" includes physical, verbal (including telephone) and written contact between the defendant and victim. The defendant may also be prohibited from contacting a victim through a third party.
- Prohibit the defendant from harassing the victim, victim's children and relatives.
- Prohibit the defendant from entering the victim's residence, property, place of employment and/or school.
- Prohibit the defendant from following, stalking, or threatening to harm, stalk or follow the victim.
- Grant temporary custody of any children to the victim or provide that the victim will retain custody of any children.
- Set forth a visitation schedule with the children. The order may specify the day, time, and circumstances of visitation. The judge can also order that no visitation be granted.
- Provide for the defendant to pay temporary child support or support for the victim.
- Provide for the defendant to reimburse the victim for medical treatment or repairs because of the violence.
Once an ex-parte order of protection (temporary) has been issued, the defendant will be served with notice of that order. The victim will also get a copy of the ex-parte order of protection. The victim should keep a copy of the order of protection with her at all times. The ex-parte order of protection remains in effect until there is a hearing to determine if the temporary order should become a full order of protection. Once the suspect has been served with notice of the temporary order any violation of it may result in criminal charges against the violator.
A petitioner who has obtained an order of protection (temporary or full) may waive the effect of that order by allowing the suspect access to herself, her children, and any property requested to be protected in the order. It is not a violation of a protective order for the other party to contact the petitioner regarding child care/custody issues in a civil manner. It is also not a violation of a protective order for the petitioner to be contacted to try to salvage the relationship in a reasonable manner. If the phone calls or contact is harassing in nature (meaning the petitioner wants nothing to do with the offender and has made it clear to him), a violation of the protective may have occurred.
How do I obtain a Protection Order? A protection order may be issued by an associate or circuit judge. Normally, all applications for orders of protection go through Division 5 of the Scott County court. After an individual has filled out their application, the court will review the request and do one of two things. 1) issue a ten (10) day order of protection, or 2) deny the request. If the court issues a 10 day order of protection, the complainant will have to appear in court to obtain a full order of protection against the accused. In filling out the application for protection, remember to put in as much detail as you can of the recent events in your life causing you to file for an order of protection.
What should I do if a defendant does not obey the terms of the restraining order?
If the defendant does not obey the terms of the restraining order, the victim should immediately call the police. Victims should remember to document, record, and ,if possible, have witnesses available to confirm the unwanted contact. The victim should have her copy of the protection order ready to show the police. If the police determine that the defendant violated the order, he can be arrested and put in jail.
Organizations that help victims of domestic violence
There are many organizations that provide assistance to victims of domestic violence. Below is a list of some of those organizations. These organizations will help a victim access the legal system, find shelter and obtain counseling.
House of Refuge Hotline (Scott County)
Domestic Violence Hotline-Missouri
Network Against Sexual Violence (NASV)
Missouri Victims Assistance Network
Missouri Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Missouri Crime Victims Compensation Unit
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Missouri Coalition Against Sexual Assault
National Sexual Assault Hotline
Administration of Aging
Division of Child Services-Scott County
A Negative Trend – Victim Waffling
The enforcement of domestic violence cases becomes a revolving door in the criminal justice system. Time after time, law enforcement officers will investigate a case, the prosecutor's office will file a charge, and the victim will initially want to see the suspect prosecuted. Then, hours, days or weeks later, the victim will want to drop charges on the suspect or refuse to testify against the suspect. At that time, the system has worked for the victim spending county and municipal resources for the prosecution of the crime and jail board of the suspect. A short time later, the victim who did not want to testify against the defendant will call for help again. Thus, we have the revolving door.
We have heard many reasons for the victim dropping the charges such as:
"It was my fault he cut, hit, choked or shot me."
"I love him and forgive him."
"I need the paycheck to support my kids."
"I didn't want the cops to arrest him, just get him to leave."
"My kids really miss their dad, brother, sister, mother, etc."
"I can handle this. This is all I know. I know he loves me and he is a good man
when he is not drunk."
All these excuses or similar ones enable the suspect to get out to repeat the cycle of violence. This cycle of violence doesn't just affect the victim. It affects the whole family. Children growing up in turbulent households tend to gravitate toward similar roles as the adults who have raised them. The boys may tend to treat other women the same way dear old dad treated mom. The girls may be attracted to men who treat her like dear old dad or "Uncle Jimmy" treated mom. No one wants a child to suffer through a life of domestic violence or become an abuser later to some other person. The extended family also suffers. Parents, Grandparents, and cousins have to cover for the family member who is abused by taking care of the children, intervening in arguments, or getting the police involved. Everyone must remember it is the abusers fault and he must make amends for his actions. If he won't change, the family has to get away from him for everyone's sake.
If the partner, spouse, or family member wants to stop the cycle of violence, they must be willing to stand their ground so that the suspect will change or they leave the suspect before someone really gets hurt.
At a minimum, it is the intent of the Scott County Prosecutor's office to aid the victim in getting the suspect, or both the victim and the suspect, counseling or treatment for the issues causing the domestic violence. It should be everyone's interest to have a mother and a father, if at all possible, to be there to raise the children responsibly.
One of the ways to get the suspect's attention so they will fix their problem is by placing that suspect on probation so that his or her issues can be addressed and not be blatantly ignored so the door swings again. The issues that might be addressed could be alcohol use, illegal drug use, unemployment, anger management, or mental problems. In any event, the door will continue to swing until the issues are addressed, the victim severs the relationship, or something dreadful happens to the victim, the suspect or a child. We hope if victims will not prosecute for themselves they will do it for the kids.