The new federal SORNA law has two separate components. One set of provisions, which I discussed in my last blog post, sets standards for registration laws that states must comply with to be eligible to receive federal funds. Those provisions impose no obligations on individual registrants; they apply only to states. Oregon is not in compliance with those laws and thus forgoes some federal funding. It turns out the costs of compliance outweigh the cost of losing the funding, so I am less worried about Oregon changing it’s laws than I was at first.
It’s not all peaches and roses on the registration front, however. A separate set of statutory provisions creates federal registration obligations for individuals, who in principle violate federal criminal law if they do not comply with them, even if they have complied with the registration laws of their state. Can they actually get prosecuted? The Sex Offense Litigation and Policy Resource Center issues an “explainer” for attorneys addressing this very question. TL;DR: They agree that federal prosecutions of individuals who have complied with all state registration rules were have long been possible in principle but rare in practice. But if the feds do charge people, the Resource Center has lots of ideas on how to defend these cases.