Convicted for a sex offense in Virginia? Then you may have to register as a sex offender on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry. What happens when you do not register? Then it is best to get in touch with an experienced attorney to discuss how you can minimize the consequences of your failure to register.
Who needs to register in VA sex offenses registry?
According to Virginia Code §9.1-902, there is a list of offenses calling for registration. Some of the sex offenses requiring registration include:
- rape or attempted rape
- forcible sodomy
- object sexual penetration
- sexual battery
- sexual contact with a victim under 13
- possession of child pornography
- producing, distributing, or financing child pornography
The full list of offenses requiring registration is available on the Virginia State Police website.
If you are a non-resident of Virginia and had committed a sex offense that requires registration in your home state, you have to register in Virginia when you come into the state for an extended visit, employment, schooling, etc. This registration must be done within three days of entering the state.
In case you’re convicted of a crime not currently considered to be a sex crime in Virginia, there is a possibility that you will have to register if legislation is passed in the future that states that the crime is a sex crime.
How to Register?
You can find the complete registration procedures in Virginia Code §9.1-903. In general, anyone who is convicted of an offense requiring registration has to register within three days of being released from jail or prison by providing the police or sheriff’s department the address of residence along with registration information. The police or sheriff’s office sends the convict’s information to the Virginia State Police for inclusion in the state-wide registry.
When registering, the person must:
- Have the photo taken
- Give a DNA sample that goes into the DNA databank
- Provide an email address, instant message, chat or any other Internet communication name or user ID
- Have finger and palm prints taken
- Provide employment information
- Provide the registration for any car, boat, or aircraft owned
- Provide proof of residence
When moving within the state of Virginia, the person must register with the police or sheriff’s office in the new city or county within three days. When leaving Virginia, the police or sheriff’s office where the registration was done should be informed 10 days before the departure.
The sex registry should be updated within three days of getting a new job or changing the vehicle registration.
According to Virginia Code §9.1-903 even change in an email address, instant message or chat room name, or other Internet user name should be informed to the police within 30 minutes after the change.
Generally, sex offenders will have to register every year, but changes such as address or job, or new vehicle should be notified as per the time limit stipulated by the laws. In cases of a sexually violent offense or of murder the re-registration must be done every 90 days.
For those failing to register or re-register, or of providing false information, the annual registration is increased to every 180 days, and 90-day registration requirement is reduced to every 30 days.
What are the penalties for failure to register?
As per Virginia Code §18.2-472.1, failure to register or giving false information is a Class 1 misdemeanor when it is the first conviction and the offender committed a non-violent sex offense. The penalty for a Class 1 misdemeanor includes up to one year in jail and a maximum of a $2,500 fine.
A second or subsequent failure to register in the sex registry upon conviction for a non-violent offender is a Class 6 felony, which is punishable by one to five years in prison and up to a $2,500 fine, although a judge or jury may impose a sentence that can be less than a year.
For anyone convicted of a violent sex offense, failing to register or giving incorrect information is a Class 6 felony. A second or subsequent conviction is a Class 5 felony, for which statutory punishments range from one to 10 years in prison and a maximum $2,500 fine. Jail terms may be less than one year if a judge or jury feels that a lenient sentence is applicable to the case.
What happens on failure to register?
Failure to register as a sex offender can lead to several negative impacts; sometimes even worse than the conviction itself. Therefore, it becomes imperative to talk to an attorney who has ample experience defending these type of cases. The attorney will work out a strategy to defend the case in favor of the person failing to register.
Also, there are possibilities that the attorney may plan a defense to ensure that the person is taken off the sex registry altogether so that re-registration does not have to be done anymore.
Removal from the registry
It is allowed under Virginia Code §9.1-910 for some non-violent sex offenders to have their names taken off from the sex offender registry after 15 years. To be removed, the following conditions should be adhered to:
- Complete all court-ordered treatment, counseling, and payment of restitution
- Prove to the court that there is no longer a risk to public safety
This opportunity is not available to anyone convicted of a sexually violent offense, or anyone convicted of two or more offenses.
Offenders whose convictions were for carnal knowledge of a minor, communicating with a minor, or distributing child pornography need to wait 25 years to petition for deletion from the registry.
Petitioning for Less Frequent Registration Renewal
As per Virginia Code § 9.1-909, after three years, sexually violent offenders can petition to have the re-registration period altered from every 90 days to once a year.
If you have to re-register more often because of a previous conviction of failing to register or providing false information to the sex offender registry, you can petition after five years to have that frequency brought down.
Every sex offender will have to undergo an evaluation to find out if they have any mental abnormality or personality disorder that prevents from controlling sexual behavior or creates a public safety menace. Those certified by the three-person panel doing the evaluation may have the re-registration frequency minimized. But the registration needs to be done once a year for a lifetime.
Since there are myriad issues involved in petitioning a court to eliminate or alter the requirement to re-register as a sex offender, it is best to engage an experienced Virginia sex crimes attorney to deal with the petitioning.