Sex Offender Information is public to an extent. If I become aware of a sexual offender in an area and simply post a link to the registry with the intent to merely inform others and not harass nor hinder this person in any way. Is there any way my actions could be perceived as illegal? When I made the post I made it clear that my intent was to merely inform and nothing more, yet some users claim I could be sued for slander even though there is evidence to support my claims.


You can always be sued, but truth is an absolute defense to libel.

Your actions could be perceived in any way imaginable. What usually matters for legal purposes is how a "reasonable person" would perceive them.

As an example, Pennsylvania's Megan's Law Website warns:

Any person who uses the information contained herein to threaten, intimidate, or harass the registrant or their family, or who otherwise misuses this information, may be subject to criminal prosecution or civil liability.

It further clarifies:

Public access to information about registered sexual offenders is intended solely as a means of public protection, any other use prohibited.

  • The warnings you posted are exactly why I wanted to make my intentions clear. I merely wanted to inform for the protection of others and nothing more. – Jesse Elser Oct 24 '16 at 16:47
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    @JesseElser regardless of your real intentions, it's possible that your actions could be construed as harassment, intimidation, threatening, or "other" misuse. Unlike defamation, you can't defend against these by showing that the information is true. – phoog Oct 24 '16 at 16:51
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    @JesseElser - Fortunately you can buy insurance against civil liability (usually in the form of "umbrella" insurance policies). And crimes have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and almost always brought by the state, if that's any comfort. – feetwet Oct 24 '16 at 16:58
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    Excellent "you can always be sued" point, I have to make that distinction with clients at least a couple of times every single month and it isn't just pedantic. Most people who hear that are genuinely surprised by that fact, even though they quickly agree that it makes total sense. I suspect that "threaten, intimidate, or harass" would be interpreted pretty narrowly in this circumstance particularly if a clarification of purpose was posted together with the information. – ohwilleke Oct 24 '16 at 16:58
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    @MartinBonner – indeed, but I assume you mean jurisdictions outside the United States? (The question was not explicitly limited to the United States, but my answer is, in part because I'm not aware of other jurisdictions in which "sex offenders" per se are required by law to register their place of residence with the government.) – feetwet Oct 17 '17 at 14:14

It is public information so it is legal to let others know BUT you have to consider the risks still. Example, if you posted pics on telephone poles and get caught, you could get some form of charge for damaged to private property. Another one is if someone used that information to attack the offender and they learned it came from your source, you could also suffer some consequences for possibly being an assailant.

Now chances are people may turn a blind eye and allow whatever to happen to a sex offender because, well, if anyone should get their rights violated and be acceptable, it be them. However, the law just doesn't work that way.

  • Downvoters, please leave a comment to indicate what problem you found with this answer. – David Siegel Oct 30 '18 at 23:54

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