By Nathan Baca and Alex Brauer
LAS VEGAS - People may soon find out there are more sex offenders living in their neighborhood than they thought.
That is because a newly enforced state law is about to re-define who is considered a sex offender who must register.
Judges and child welfare advocates say that it is going to be more difficult to tell who is a sexual predator because the sex offender map is now going to flag anyone who has committed a sexual offense, even those who teenagers at the time. The starting point for being on the website is 14 years old.
Despite the sex offender map getting a lot more crowded, you can tell the severity of an offender's crime by looking at which tier they are in.
Coleman says there are long-overdue improvements that the law, which is called the Adam Walsh Law, has for tracking adult sex offenders.
"I think there are some things that have evolved because of technology. When they register, we're going to know what their Internet name, or any of these kind of handles that they have," child welfare advocate Donna Coleman said.
However, she is concerned that children who are in treatment for committing a sexual offense from the age of 14 on will also be on the sex offender website for everyone to see.
The majority of those juvenile sex offenses are not considered predatory and have a low risk of re-offense.
- Adults also have a low re-offense rate, if you look at the facts and not media sound bites.
One local family court judge says the new law could ruin juvenile offender's lives after successful treatment.
- The same can be said for adult offenders, but you apparently don't care if you ruin an adult offenders live, or their family as well?
"Now you've got them fixed. They're on their way in life. They're in college. They're in art school. They've got regular jobs now. Some are married and have kids themselves. Now, they're going to have to register? For something that happened when they were 14 years of age?" Family Court Judge William Voy said.
The new law also takes away local judges' ability to decide a juvenile offender's sentence.
Judge Voy says the law is arbitrary in picking 14 years old as the cutoff point for automatic registration as a sex offender.
The judge says he has 13-year-old offenders that fail treatment but won't be registered.
Once updated, sex offender labeled as tier three are considered the worst offenders.
The law took seven years to pass through legal challenges and a state supreme court decision.
It could take a few more months before the sex offender website is updated with thousands of new people.