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The National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR) is a Canadian legal device designed to monitor current sex offenders living in the country. It came into force on December 15, 2004, with the passing of the Sex Offender Information Registration Act (SOIR Act)
Since then, any offender who is convicted of a designated sexual offence may be ordered, at the time of sentencing or as soon as possible thereafter, by the court to register with the registration site that serves the area of their main residence. A person so ordered must register within 15 days, or if they are incarcerated for their crime, within 15 days from their release date. The information that is collected from the offender is confidential, and is not available to the public.
The main purpose of Canada's NSOR is to assist a police officer who is investigating a crime of a sexual nature. NSOR analysts can provide the most current information available about a suspect who is already a registered sex offender, or can search the NSOR database for possible suspects in sexual offence cases where the offender is unknown.
The NSOR database also contains details concerning many sex offenders who were convicted and sentenced prior to December 15, 2004, referred to as "retrospective" offenders, the criteria being that they must have still been serving an active portion of their sentence on the date that the SOIR Act came into force (eg. still incarcerated, on probation, or on parole). These retrospective offenders were tracked down by various law enforcement authorities, and were served with a Notice that they were required to register for the NSOR after a one-year grace period. The last day of that grace period was December 15, 2005.
Anyone required to register with Canada's National Sex Offender Registry is required to comply with the following obligations:
- to register with their registration site once a year. (The registration site is usually the police agency that serves the area where the offender's main residence is located, although this description varies somewhat by province or territory);
- to advise their registration site, within 15 days, of any change of name;
- to advise their registration site, within 15 days, of any change of address;
- to advise their registration site, within 15 days, of any absence from their main address that will be for at least 15 consecutive days. They must advise of their date of departure, their actual or estimated date of return, and of the address(es) where they will be while absent. In addition, the offender is required to advise the registration site, within 15 days of their return to their residence, of their actual date of return.
An Order or Notice requires an offender to comply with the SOIR Act for a term of either 10 years, 20 years, or life. The term is determined by the maximum possible penalty the offender could have received for the offence for which he/she was sentenced. Also, if the offender has a previous conviction for any sexual offence (it does not have to be the same sexual offence for which they're now being sentenced), or if they're already under a previously-issued Order or Notice, the minimum term that will apply, is Life.